We use cookies on all our websites to gather anonymous data to improve your experience of our websites and serve relevant ads that may be of interest to you. Please refer to the cookies policy to find out more.

By continuing, scrolling the page or clicking a link, you agree to the use of cookies.


Shirley Batten-Smith

Member since 1984.


What year did you join the industry?

I joined Williams & Glyn’s Bank in 1983 at the age of 28 and started studying for my banking exams straight away. I’d left school at 16 with only a few GCSEs and I enjoyed the first year induction course, because I didn’t have A-levels. 

How did you find the experience of study and working full-time?

After the first year I found it hard to find time to study. I took three subjects the next year – only to fail all of them. 

I was on a ‘relief team’ covering South Wales and the West. Working full time in the bank and travelling all over the place, I decided to try a different approach to get through eight papers.

I’d get up really early – about 4am – and study for two hours every weekday.  That left my evenings free to relax. On Saturdays, I’d go to the local library and find a quiet place to study uninterrupted for a few hours and Sunday was my free day.

 I also studied only two subjects at a time with the aim of passing at least one.  I found this regime worked and I took my last exam – ‘The practice of lending’ – a few months before I got married. 

Any special memories or stories about taking your banking exams?

After the exam, my fiancé picked me up from the College and we went for a celebratory meal.

As soon as I sat down in the restaurant the stress of all the studying and the wedding preparation overwhelmed me. I started crying, and I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I couldn’t eat or drink anything.  

All the way through the meal the waitress was horrified. She must have thought my fiancé was a real cad because he ate all his meal and just kept laughing.

All I could do was say sorry over and over again. In the end we gave up and came home. 

I did pass the final exam – with a distinction. And I went on to use this technique to pass several more professional exams. 

I have now been happily married for 28 years and we still laugh about that meal.