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The Junior: I’m a graduate, I’ve done two contracts, I desperately want a full-time front-office job, but I can’t find one

Candidate with CV

With tightening headcounts in banks, contract work seems to be the norm nowadays. I graduated about a year ago and I haven’t got a permanent job yet. Instead, I’ve embarked on front-office banking contract work in order to gain work experience. I often ask myself if what I’ve done is worth it, and what makes me so different from my peers who got into proper graduate programmes. I haven’t reached any conclusions, but I certainly hope my decisions have been wise.

After my two contracts at well-known firms in Hong Kong, I’m convinced I want a career in front-office banking. Nonetheless, the finance industry is now in such a bad shape that hiring graduates isn’t a priority for most banks. Many of my friends who had previously coveted front-office jobs have now moved on. Some went into commodity trading firms (which are getting increasingly competitive nowadays), while others set up their own businesses (iPhone applications, tuition centres, dessert shops, electronics dealing etc).A minority chose to work for companies in the real estate and energy industries.

So here I am, trying to clock relevant front-office experience, hoping eventually to get a full-time offer from a bank. I’m giving myself until this summer, otherwise like many of my peers, I will choose to move to another sector, which shouldn’t be too difficult given my work experience in banking,

Back to front doesn’t work

I have encountered many graduates who couldn’t get a client-facing role, but then tried out the back office hoping to find a front-office job in the future. But this isn’t really a wise decision nowadays. Apart from the reality that transferring from back to front is close to impossible, investment banks are now even thinking of outsourcing their operations, finance and IT divisions to cheaper countries such as India, Philippines and Hungary. I have a friend who was told to travel to India to teach his new colleagues there about the job, but he doesn’t even know whether he still has a position with the bank after that.

I also know auditors who quit their jobs before one year was up. Some chose to be teachers, while others became trainees in other industries, taking lower salaries in return for a relatively more exciting job scope. Hearing such stories made me decide that the big four and back-office functions of a bank are off my shopping list.

The situation now in the finance industry is that hiring budgets are tight and headcount is frozen, but there is still a lot of work to be done, especially at a junior level. So by hiring contract workers or interns, like me, salaries are not recorded on the balance sheet, giving HR more flexibility. And of course, seniors get to unload all their unwanted work onto us. I’ve given one year of my life to investment banking and I really hope things turn around soon, so I can get the proper recognition that I deserve and become a full-time employee.

Comments (4)

Comments
  1. ‘ I’m giving myself until this summer, otherwise like many of my peers, I will choose to move to another sector, which shouldn’t be too difficult given my work experience in banking ‘

    with attitude like this, best of luck in your job hunt . You would require a lot of wishes to get a job anywhere.

  2. Whatever happened to working your way up from the bottom?

    “I’m giving myself until this summer, otherwise like many of my peers, I will choose to move to another sector, which shouldn’t be too difficult given my work experience in banking”

    Word to the wise, with so many redundancies recently what makes you think finding another job will be easy – in any sector? Way i look at it, you weren’t good enough to merit a permanent contract and have to look into other sectors.

  3. – Front-office role….To me it sounds like someone is still living in the old days where front-office = big bucks. Dude if you don’t know why you wanna work in banking don’t come in
    – Agree with MrBateman. Maybe you just aren’t good enough. There are loads of experienced bankers who got laid off, able to do a lot more than you and willing to earn less. Wake up kid. Contract is worth nothing nowadays
    – “(s)alaries are not recorded on the balance sheet”. There are soooo many logic fallacy that I’m not even going to dignify that with a response.

    Moderator, why do we allow whinny kids on this site now?

  4. Ignore the hard hitting comments kid, these people probably got it rough when they started their banking careers. My advice is simple, you need to work your connections, rich relatives, rich alumnis, rich classmates and so on. Getting your foot in through pure hard work and meritocracy are a joke and has always been. If you walk in today to a private banking function and have someone who owns a listed company to introduce you, private banking HR will be at your feet to explore opportunities.

    So what if you have no connections and is unwilling to build one, QUIT! stop wasting your time covering all the shit for nothing.

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