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Investment banks offering graduates a second bite of the cherry as deal volumes pick up

It’s March and a strange thing is happening with investment banking graduate recruitment – there are still front office opportunities available. An increasing number of bulge bracket banks are now recruiting off-cycle in order to lessen the workload of their junior staff and allow them to take weekends off.

JPMorgan is increasing its graduate intake by 10% globally and is currently hiring graduates across M&A, equity capital markets and debt capital markets. Deutsche Bank, despite being one of the few banks to make any formal concession on junior investment banking hours, is also hiring an additional more graduates for the front office, according to our sources, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch is also increasing its intake.

In terms of numbers this isn’t hugely significant. JPMorgan typically hires 300 graduates a year in EMEA and a similar figure in the U.S, while Deutsche hires 700 globally across all businesses and Bank of America brings in around 250 in EMEA for its investment bank.

However, it represents a second chance for many students who may have been rejected during the 2014 recruitment process and an opportunity to secure a front office position at an investment bank without having interned previously. Banks typically offer around 70% of front office places to internship conversions and at JPMorgan this proportion is even higher, to the point where the investment banking division is closed to applications almost as soon as it opens.

“We’re getting a feed of students who are sending their CVs in cold, rather than coming through the internship process,” says a source close the situation at JPMorgan.

Still, don’t expect these positions to be easy pickings – there were 135 applications for every available investment banking graduate job in the UK last year, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters.

While the primary motivation for these extra recruits is to come good on promises of greater work-life balance for juniors, another reason is optimism over the deal pipeline, says the JP Morgan source: “We need an extra push at the junior level because we’ve seen more deal activity this year and with a market pick up we’re not going to be able to give juniors every Saturday off without hiring more people.”

JPMorgan can be seen as something of a barometer for large investment banks – globally it tops the rankings for investment banking divisions and dominates in both the UK and U.S, so if it needs to hire then it’s good news for employment prospects across the sector.  This year has already got off to a strong start, and senior bankers are anticipating a good year, particularly for M&A.

JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank declined to comment on their graduate recruitment plans.

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