Banking careers are not what they were. The pay is less. The hours are still long. The opportunities for re-employment post-redundancy are minimal. Now is therefore an opportune moment to quit banking and try for a more illustrious career in industry.
At an event last night co-hosted by eFinancialCareers, search firm Taylor Bennett, and Bloomberg, Dr. Heather McGregor, managing director of Taylor Bennett, extolled the virtues of quitting banking and developing a new career in investor relations. "At the most senior level there are some people working in investor relations whose total compensation packages exceed £1m," she said.
However, former bankers with an ACA accounting qualification or a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualifications who move into senior investor relations positions are more likely to command salaries of £80k to £90k, said McGregor. In other cases, entry level roles are more likely to pay £25k, depending upon the role and company.
The great joy of moving out of banking and into investor relations (IR) is not the pay but the fact that investor relations tends to be a 'gateway' position for other exciting jobs at companies. "Investor relations is not always a destination career. It’s seen as a way into a company and can be a good way to move into an operational role in the future," said McGregor.
Zaki Ahmed, a headhunter who places former equity researchers into investor relations roles, told us that a lot of big companies like hiring ex-equity researchers into investor relations roles. "They appreciate that the sell-side analyst knows the company inside out." After starting in investor relations, equity researchers often move into strategy roles and have been known to become chief financial officers or even chief executives, said Ahmed. One example of an ex-equity researcher turned senior executive is John McGloin, previously the head of mining at Collins Stewart, who became chairman of mining company Cluff Gold last April.
Damien Maltarp, investor relations director at BT and a former telecoms analyst at Credit Suisse and Cazenove, said investor relations provides a good platform from which to directly and indirectly influence senior management. "You spend a lot of time travelling with the CFO and CEO. There is a lot of dialogue at a senior level."
Unfortunately, investor relations positions are not open to everyone. Ahmed only places former equity researchers into IR jobs. McGregor said 56% of the candidates Taylor Bennett has placed into investor relations roles over the past five years had direct experience in the sector - whether as researchers, equity capital markets bankers, or other sector specialists. A financial services qualification also helps.
"Our advice to those who want to break into investor relations would be to consider a financial qualification to enhance a relevant skillset. Even a Level 1 CFA pass makes a big statement on a CV," said McGregor.