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Financial services firms are astoundingly popular among Swedish graduates

If, in 2008, the idea of working in banking was becoming increasingly unpalatable to Swedish students, the class of 2011 have had a change of heart.

Research firm Universum has just produced its latest rankings of companies that are popular with Swedish graduates and it’s dominated by banks and financial services firms.

Although furniture giant IKEA remains in the top slot, financial services firms account for an astonishing seven out of 10 of the top 100 Swedish employers, the poll of nearly 14,000 final and penultimate year students concluded.

This compared with five out of 10 in the same poll last year.

Moreover, the local Swedish banks, Nordea, SEB, Swedbank and Handelsbanken, have all improved their rankings this year on last, as has Danish bank Danske. Accountancy and management consultancy firms are also strongly represented in this year’s list.

“I think it is a combination of the importance given to work-life balance in Sweden as well as the strong brand financial services now has in the region,” says Daniel Wägerth, employer branding specialist at Universum.

“Swedish banks have also done a lot of work around presenting and positioning themselves as employers of choice. Nordea, for example, which used to have a reputation of being a bit boring, has a much stronger corporate image.

“A lot of Swedish banks have been overseeing big projects and are now able to attract more high-potential employees,” he adds.

Part of the popularity may of course simply be practical, in that the banking sector has been performing strongly and, so, there has been more hiring going on and therefore more entry-level opportunities available, argues Wictor Bonde, senior consultant banking and financial services at Michael Page International in Stockholm.

.”These compensation parts are connected with risk awareness – something that potentially young people, who may have struggled to get their first job after graduation, have been particularly exposed to,” he says.

Intriguingly, the massive publicity the finance industry has experienced over the past two years, even the negative reporting around the 2008 crash, may also have helped boost interest.

“The image might necessarily not have been hurt, to the contrary in fact, in that it could have shown pursuing a career in finance is exciting, with great opportunities of taking an advantage of the volatility of the market,” he adds.

Financial Services firms in the top 100

4.Ernst & Young

5. Swedbank

6. Handelsbanken

7. Ohrlings PricewaterhouseCoopers

8. SEB

9. Nordea

10. KPMG

13. Sveriges Riksbanken

14. Goldman Sachs

17. Deloitte

20. JP Morgan

21. Skatteverket

28. Grant Thornton

30. Länsförsäkringar

35. Finansinspektionen

37. NASDAQ OMX

44. Danske Bank

46. Carnegie

58. SET Revisionsbyr

80. GE Money Bank

85. Riksgäldskontoret

86. Forex Bank

94. Nordnet

97. Folksam

Source: Universum

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