Banks may be opening up innovation labs, pouring millions into IT projects and even relaxing their dress codes to attract more developers, but technology companies are still becoming increasingly attractive destinations for financial services professionals.
The 10 employers in the table below secured more votes than any other technology firms in the eFinancialCareers 2017 Ideal Employer survey, which asked almost 6,500 finance professionals which companies they would prefer to work for.
Moreover, the five most popular tech giants – Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon – also feature in the top-30 of our overall ranking, which pits them against major financial institutions. In a sign that people currently working in financial services are willing to move to the technology sector, Google came in third place as an ideal employer, beating all the big banks with the exception of J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs.
Worryingly for banks’ ability to recruit and retain staff, the attractiveness of tech companies is increasing. Compared with last year’s Ideal Employer survey, Facebook jumped three spots to 15th in the general ranking, while Microsoft moved up seven places to 24th, and Amazon rose 17 positions to 26th.
But why, exactly, do any tech firms appear on a ranking which polled financial professionals? It’s partly because people think they offer a working environment and company culture that banks struggle to match, according to our survey, which also asked respondents to name the perceived strengths of their ideal employer.
Of the people who voted for Google as their ideal employer, for example, 80% believe that its office environment is a strength.
Some of this positive sentiment could be explained by the perpetual buzz surrounding hip workplaces in the tech sector. Google is expanding in major finance centres, not just in Silicon Valley. Construction begins on its new London headquarters next year, which features a swimming pool, indoor sports pitch and rooftop garden. In Singapore, Google moved to a new campus-style headquarters last November, where staff can enjoy hipster cafes, massage rooms and Lego-playing desks.
Finance professionals also believe that tech companies offer great company perks – 72% of Facebook voters gave its perks the thumbs up, for example. They may have heard of the free meals on offer at Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters or its onsite bankers and barbers. Flexible working and organisational culture are also perceived as strengths of the tech companies, according to our survey.
Do finance professionals unrealistically view tech firms as providers of fantasy workplaces and refuges from the straitjacket world of banking?
Perhaps, but the likes of Google scored well across a range of less frivolous categories, too. Three quarters of Facebook votes think it provides challenging and interesting work, while Apple voters ranked their ideal employer highly as an industry innovator (76%) and established industry leader (78%).
Meanwhile, as investment banking CEOs continue to cut headcount and restructure their global operations, finance professionals appear to have more faith in the business strategies of the tech firms.
Google (68%), Facebook (76%) and Apple (73%), are all seen as companies boasting strong financial performance. Their voters also rate them highly for company leadership.
While front-office employees are sometimes hired into corporate development jobs at tech firms, banks are more concerned about losing people from the technology teams. Tech is one of the few functions that banks are expanding in large numbers as they try to reinvent themselves as technology companies in their own right. About a quarter of Goldman Sach’s 33,000 employees now work in the tech.
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