☰ Menu eFinancialCareers

Are juniors being frozen out of the market?

If banks really are secretly hiring, they don’t appear to be secretly hiring juniors. According to recruiters and headhunters, the current emphasis – as ever in a downturn – is all on hiring big hitters who can bring in business. Junior vacancies are being patched up internally.

“A lot of houses are interested in upgrading. They want senior people who can really make a difference,” says a partner at one London search firm. “At a junior level, there’s no external hiring going on – there are plenty of juniors who can simply be transferred across,” he adds.

Junior bankers who are out of the market will be pleased to hear that this is not the universally held view.

“There’s still a good level of external recruitment going on for junior resources that we can’t source internally,” says the head of recruitment at one US bank. “In areas like risk and compliance both junior and senior people are sought-after in the open market.”

Michael Moran, chief executive of Fairplace, an outplacement firm providing career management services to redundant bankers, says the going is actually hardest for people with three to five years’ experience than for the most junior of juniors: “It’s easier if you’ve had less than 18 months’ experience and can apply as a trainee. People who’ve already got a fair amount of experience have had their bite at the cherry and can’t be re-employed as new starter at a lower rate.”

If you fall into this category, Moran says your best bet is networking directly with banks, rather than going through recruiters. Failing this, a change of career may be necessary.

Comments (25)

  1. One thing that is certain is that the bar has been raised for junior candidates. It seems that candidates for analyst roles must be oxbridge educated with a first class degree. Must have had experience from an internship and for certain roles, especially the quant types, a PhD is a must.

  2. We’ve just seen a bloodbath with ~15% of the entire front office of London binned, to be conservative.
    Vice Presidents are trying for Associate positions, Directors trying for VP jobs, many out on the street happy to take a 50% paycut to just get a job.
    Why on earth in this environment would you want to focus on hiring juniors, when you can get more experienced people at an absolute steal?

  3. Henry perhaps long term vision is something beyond your abilities.

    From HR’s perspective, hiring a VP in the position of an associate is a no-brainer. Not only would the person throw a fit (wanting a promotion/threat to leave) as soon as the market rebounds but could also lead to other issues. For instance, a VP now working as an associate would most likely mouth off 2 his/her VP etc given the person used 2 work in that position before.

  4. Brutal but tru although it’s the MBAs I feel sorry for, all that debt.

  5. Yeah Rios, a PHD is a must – these PHD bods have revolutionised banking. Forget business acumen, entrepreneurial skills etc., 10 years at uni watching Star Trek and occasionally popping in to the lab to model the mathematics of bubbles is the only way forward.

  6. There is a trend towards hiring more Pythagoras Heads. This is something that has been overlooked. If you walk like a thunderbird and play your cards right, your luck could be in.

    Pythagoras Head Reply
  7. Pythagoras Head, what are you on about? you keep posting these weird comments and nobody gets the joke – please elaborate

  8. Well RB, your view may be likened to that of Henry’s who sees no point at all in hiring juniors. But of course, your point of view is built to cocoon your fear of anyone who looks frightful, i.e. the mathematically able. In their defence, the guy who devised a technique for pricing CDO’s was more of a economist than a mathematician, and as for Madoff and Stanford, they definitely weren’t mathematicians or economists, they were talented enterpreneurs with a whole lotta acumen, and the gift of the gob.

  9. I get the joke, quite liked the Thunderbird bit – and Im ‘one of them’

    Hope it’s all true as I just spent a decade getting good at this stuff

  10. MBAs … no point, what’s the point? Yes, LBS / INSEAD / Harvard + 3 others, but just money spent

  11. It’s sad to see this situation, as Banks are effectively cutting their own throats (which is apparently nothing new in the UK), If Banks can’t be bothered hiring juniors or grads they will be effectively reducing the talent pool for the future and people will begin steering away from studying or becoming qualified in banking related fields. What’s worse is forcing more qualified people to take lower jobs and then look upon it as a gain, it’s not. When things turn around, banks will be the first to be burnt, as these guys will sabotage those roles and then leave in numbers and who’s going to fill the roles then? Not only will the banks have pissed off a lot of people, they’ll have effectively forced the people in the middle to change careers, thinning the talent pool even further. Just once I’d like to see some of these top bankers show some character, instead of acting like narcissistic plutocrats and actually do something to keep their staff employed (and even hire some), The government saved your jobs, so why can’t you do the same for your staff?

  12. I am tired of people saying without a PhD, you have no chance in quant jobs. Do you mean a PhD in Maths, Physics or any sciences or do you mean a PhD in Financial Maths? I prefer someone with an MSc in Financial Maths/Engineering than a PhD in Physics or Maths who has limited or no knowledge about the fiancial instruments and will need at least 2 years of training. These guys are in no way better than an MSc Financial Maths holder who fully understands the financial instruments and can hit the ground running. Also, i do not think the maths behind these instruments is that complex anyway.

  13. It doesnt matter when you’re a star- the markets can do what they like, I still crush them.

  14. PhD / Quant types have a place in any self-respecting IB, but they’re not core strategy thinkers, and certainly not management material.

    Davros – we should NOT feel sorry for MBAs; quite the opposite. Largely a waste of time. Not to mention that 90% of candidates are just Eurotrashy rich kids. Do you think that many actually pay the fees themselves? I know several MBAs who lived in Chelsea whilst studying at LBS (they were not the exception; SW3 was something of a social centre). It’s all family money, and just an excuse to stay “in education” (i.e. not working) for that bit longer. Not saying there’s anything wrong with this (i wouldn’t mind being in such a position), but we shouldn’t feel sorry for them! The markets will come back (far more quickly than many think (you think this bear market has been brutal – just wait for the bull rebound) and Johnny MBA will be inundated with offers.

  15. Eurotrash=MBA, never was a truer word said.

  16. Mr Shoot_out, your first point is strongly made. It does need clarification. In the US, they tend to cling towards Physics PhDs, while in the UK Mathematics PhD’s, and sometimes Engineering PhD’s are favored. The problem is two fold. Most PhD students acquire in-depth knowledge and skills that are specific to a certain subject, so for instance, for quant roles in high frequency trading, recruiters look for PhDs who have worked extensively in signal processing and time series analysis. If you need a quant who would develop tools to compute the values of derivatives from numerical solutions of PDE’s, you can look for PhDs who’ve worked extensively in numerics. However, in an ideal world you would prefer someone with a PhD in Fin Maths, but how many are out there?
    As for the argument of MSc Fin Maths versus the analytical and numerate PhD’s etc, its not as clear-cut as you put it. But one thing is fact, in order to get a PhD, you must think out of the scope of existing knowledge to tackle a practical problem – the exact same attributes needed in the current economic climate.

  17. I agree with shout_out about MSc Fin Math vs PhD somethine ekse. But I also believe that in a similar vein, there is little logic to hire juniors when you can hire experienced chaps on the cheap. Of course, loyalty is not what you are after. But that never worked in London anyway.

  18. Every sector has its ups n downs so is in financial sector especially in US, UK and some parts of Europ. Loosing jobs in one sector creates oppostunities in other sectors. Yes, banking sector will revive itself very soon and new jobs will be thus avaialble.

  19. My name is Francesco, admire my loafers, would you like to go to Whisky Mist with me?

  20. Is that really true, only a PHD with respected Univercity could be considered? Actually, to get fund from a UK University is hard enough for me as a Chinese, especially in Finance area. I only got a offer and funding from a second tier University in Fin Math. Besides, I changed my subject from computer science. Currently a CFA level 2 candidate. Could anybody makes some comments to my experience, this is my last year of PHD.

  21. A PhD in Financial Maths is the killer but it also depends on what the candidate specialised in. If you do something with FFT, all doors will be open to you. Nevertheless, an MSc from a university with a good programm and not necessarily a big name will open doors. Birkbeck college has one of the best MSc programmes in the UK. It is rigorous and very mathematical and also very affordable plus it has some of the industry’s big names on their staff list.
    I agree with what Rios says; but i would like to say that most people would prefer to recruit their likes in any position. In finance, there are so many PhD Pyhsics and Maths people around. This is as a result of the fact that some 15 to 20 years ago; financial institutions recruited these guys who had nothing to do with PhDs in their pockets to do their quantitative work. Today, most of them are highly successful and are now recruiting their likes into the companies they work for. Hence the belief that only a PhD will give a breakthrough.
    Please atomax_27 do not worry. U wil be fine and very ok indeed. By the time you finish, the market will be back again and your skills will be highly needed.

  22. To Shout_out

    Thanks mate!! Very helpful advice. I am currently writing up my thesis on algo trading topic, I use a some martingale theory, some econometrics, to build an trading optimisation model. I did’t work on stochastic process or signal processing… Seems algo trading is not seen as a quant job, huge number of such jobs look for computer science backgruond… i am quite interested in option pricing, etc , wil it be difficult because my topic is irrelevant? I’m trying all means to prove my knowledge in finace… will sit the CFA level 2 this june..

  23. MAN, i’ma be real with u cause we are all real people right now! City boys aint showing no love to us lil shorties, we are the future time to invest in us otherwise there will be nothing to invest in, we studied finance we understand credit crunch, experience is nothing as most of ya’ll only have experience in losing money! pay attention otherwise we shorties are gonna start a business and WIN!!!! pushing u oldies out the marketplace, dont say u werent warned!!!

  24. ” I did’t work on stochastic process or signal processing” and “I use some martingale theory, some econometrics,”


  25. I am doing a physics phd in Germany in a “normal” university. From time to time I think of applying for a finance job but would I stand any chances ? It’s been since Nov 2007 since I graduated with an Msc in theoretical physics at Imperial. I think the time period is already to long to count on the advantage of this degree. However I would have to start in a junior role since I haven’t worked in the finance sector before. What would be my chances of getting a job in the current environment ?

The comment is under moderation. It will appear shortly.


Screen Name


Consult our community guidelines here