Some terrible news from the Association of Graduate Recruiters for credulous students trying to get into investment banking

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Burger and fries

Want to work in an investment bank in 2012? Forget it. The latest survey from the Association of Graduate Recruiters suggests you might as well apply to McDonalds (where you will at least have a strong chance of reaching board level). Or, failing that, you could always become an accountant.

The AGR’s survey suggests that investment banks and fund managers are going to reduce their graduate hiring this year by a massive 42%.

It estimates there will be 21,325 vacancies for graduates across the UK in 2012, of which 6.8% will be within investment banks and fund managers – ie. 1,450 positions. Of these, it says 1,219 will be investment banking jobs, suggesting fund management trainee programmes are rarer than internships on the moon.

If you want to be assured of getting a graduate job in 2012, the AGR’s survey suggests you’d be far better off applying to accounting firms, which will have 4,563 vacancies this year.

Statistical anomalies

And yet. The AGR’s figures may not be all that they seem.

The banks contributing to its survey were: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, HSBC, ICAP, Macquarie, Morgan Stanley, RBS and UBS. It's unclear whether Barclays, HSBC and RBS contributed in an investment banking or retail banking context.

A more comprehensive survey of investment banks’ hiring intentions by research company High Fliers suggested investment banks intend to hire 2,700 graduates in the UK this year, an increase of 5% on 2011. High Fliers interviewed a lot more banks: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, RBS, and UBS.

So, it may not be that bad. Treat the AGR’s figures with credulity. Hold your nerve: banks are still hiring, it’s never been easy to get a job in one. 2012 will be no different.

(We’ve pasted the relevant AGR charts below.)