From San Francisco, CA — 11/03/2008
Union Bank of California is a good work environment for most levels of employee. The pay, as with any bank, is not far above average for your common titles, from Vice President down. For Senior Vice Presidents and up, pay is very high and there are many associated perks (like monthly car allowance!). Generally, work/life balance is respected and families are supported. Benefits are standard, but not stellar; this can be a challenge, especially with Silicon Valley just down the road from Union Bank's headquarters in San Francisco. Lots of people in this area are used to meals being brought in, gyms in the buildings, on-site daycare, 100% casual dress, just to name a few. Keep in mind, though, that banks get 10 holidays, Union Bank adds a floating holiday every year, and you are able to purchase an additional week of vacation every year through pre-tax payroll deduction. It's rare for ANYONE to be in the offices after 6PM, and many people don't even show up for work till 9AM most days.
I have interacted with people from all areas of the bank and generally found that they're competent, good to work with, and respectful of their coworkers. Job security is reliable because the executive management is committed to retaining hard workers who've proven their worth to the company (even after the company has been taken over by the Japanese parent bank). If you're a slacker or don't put forth a concerted effort, you won't be rewarded either monetarily or with loyalty from management. In terms of job advancement, the company has been lacking in providing a good career path for most employees. If you want to advance and work your way up, it's up to you to take the bull by the horns and go for it. You are able to, but you've got to make the first move - don't count on any of your managers to push you up or put you forth. Most of them don't stand in your way and will be supportive, but you have to make the effort.
Union Bank has headquarters in San Francisco, and major employment centers in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Monterey Park (IT). They're all good places to live and the facilities are generally neat, clean, and modern. Most of the bank is a cubicle environment, except (again!) for those SVPs and up. This can tend to be a negative: there is definitely a two-class system at work in Union Bank in terms of how the higher-ups are treated from the lower-downs. It's an unfortunate artifact of the "good old boy" way of banking. One thing that does not seem to happen at Union Bank that does happen at some other banks is that women are treated equally with men in all respects. There are just as many female SVPs as male ones, and women regularly advance their careers as frequently as men do.
The big negatives of working for Union Bank of California include the following:
1. Lack of communication from executive management. To their credit, they seem to be working on this but it's a top-down initiative from the CEO and COO. It's going to take time.
2. Lack of pay on parity with competitors, both in the same industry and in other industries for similar jobs. There doesn't seem to be any movement on this front recently, and it is unlikely to happen with the economy in the state it is in today (late 2008).
3. The occasional numskull employee you have to deal with. This is in every job I have ever had, and will be till the end of time. Banks can make havens for these kind of people, though, so you may run into one or two more, percentage wise, than you would at another workplace. Union Bank tries not to, but it happens.
Overall, it's a positive place to work with a lot of good qualities. It's a bank, after all, and offers the good things that banks traditionally do as an employer (decent benefits, good job security, non-stressful environment, etc.) and the bad things (though fewer in number) that banks traditionally do as an employer (average or slightly below average pay, non-cutting edge jobs, two-class environment that is fostered by a haves and have-nots scale of SVPs+ and VPs-). I recommend it.