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From high school to high finance: Here’s how to get more women into banking

It’s a measure of how much investment banks want to attract more females that Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Macquarie Group, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Westpac Institutional Bank are all targeting high school students and (perhaps even more surprisingly) are all cooperating.

The rival firms got together recently to host two “Footpath to Finance” days, with the Sydney one attended by more than 100 year-11 and year-12 pupils from schools across the city, and the Melbourne one by about 80.

“It’s important to reach young women at school age because many don’t yet know what university course they’ll be doing and this is an opportunity to guide them. While commerce, finance or economics degrees are most common, we are definitely open to those with other backgrounds too,” says Naomi Clarke, head of graduate recruitment, UBS.

The events provided an insight into the range of careers available at investment banks. And firms weren’t just talking up the money and glamour of their front-office roles: legal, marketing, corporate communications, HR, operations and IT jobs were also discussed.

“It was about explaining how an investment bank works and how all the job functions interact with each other. This is especially important for those who don’t already have a family member working in the sector and want to find out the basics,” Clarke told eFinancialCareers.

Students had the chance to interact with and listen to senior female executives and recently-graduated financial professionals. A panel of young speakers talked about why they chose their university and degree, and discussed extra-curricular activities that could help pave the way into i-banking, such as networking, joining finance societies, and doing internships.

“It’s more of a challenge for banks to attract females into finance, so that’s why we need to provide role models – women who enjoy banking and have been successful in their careers,” says Clarke.

“It’s also a chance to dispel myths that banking is a totally male-domination profession. And in Melbourne one of the senior female speakers was a managing director with two children, which demonstrates that it’s possible for females to balance a successful career with family life.”

After listening to the speakers, students then had a half-day networking session where they talked directly to bankers. “We were all very impressed by the questions and how very switched-on they were. Some of the delegates already have stock portfolios, and read financial blogs and the Australian Financial Review.”

Comments (2)

  1. Why would a “switched-on” person of any gender aspire to do M&A?

    I always thought a banker was defined as someone smart enough to get into M&A and stupid enough to actually accept the offer.

  2. At least one of these banks has gone overboard with affirmative action…. only targeting females for hiring plans. The industry is starting to see this also flow into promotions with “quotas” now needed to be achieved.

    Let the best “person” for the role be successful – regardless of race, sex, religion, age etc

    from the inside Reply

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