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The most competitive jobs on Wall Street this year

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The race is on to get a plum job on Wall Street.

It may be unusual for bankers to make a move in the fourth quarter, but firms are still making hires for front-office roles – even when they have to buy out or guarantee the new hire’s bonus. If you’re currently in the market for a new job or even looking ahead to next year’s recruitment wave, you have to know what you’re up against.

We’ve broken out the jobs on Wall Street – specifically the New York metropolitan tri-state area, which also includes New Jersey and Connecticut – that had the most applications on eFinancialCareers during the first three quarters of 2017, based on an average 30-day application rate over that period. Below are the most popular job sectors that are achieving the most applications in and around New York City.

The most notable trend? While the buy-side is still quite desirable, the sell-side is still holding its own on Wall Street, even if that may not be true in every market across the U.S.

The most desirable sectors in the New York tri-state area

1. Investment banking/M&A

In some parts of the country, it may be all about fintech, professional services or the buy side, but in New York, a lot of people want to work at a big prestigious Wall Street bank like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanly, BAML and Citi – or perhaps an elite boutique or middle-market firm.

The hiring of M&A bankers continued on Wall Street over the summer, with associates and vice presidents (VPs) at the top of banks’ lists. On average, 24 professionals applied to each investment banking/M&A job posting on eFinancialCareers in July, down from 73 last August and 72 last September.

However, that was a blip, because over the first nine months of the year, the sector averaged 76 applications per posting.

2. Research

Other than private equity, no other sector demonstrated more demand for such a limited number of job postings. It is well known that the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) II, the rise of quantitative analytics and other factors have ushered in a new era of research.

Morgan Stanley is an example of a bank that continued to hire researchers this year. However, the game is changing, and traditional, fundamental researchers are looking at other options offering more job security and lowering expectations for their compensation whether they decide to stick it out or make a move.

The sector averaged 69 applications per posting over the first three quarters of this year.

3. Private equity and venture capital

Private equity and venture capital are both notoriously difficult to break into. PE firms’ on-cycle recruitment is becoming more competitive and kicks off earlier every year – for many investment banking analysts, the process begins as soon as they start on the training program. There are always the typical candidates with two years of investment banking experience moving into private equity – sales, marketing, distribution and capital-raising professionals are all highly sought-after – and the post-MBA hires who PE firms recruit before their last year.

Over the first nine months of the year, the sector averaged 67 applications per posting.

4. Trading and commodities

While fixed income, currencies and commodities traders still haven’t been as impacted by algorithmic electronic trading as their equities-focused brethren, many believe that trading algorithms are getting so sophisticated that human traders cannot keep up over the long term.

The flip side of that coin? It is leading to the rise of quantitative – and hybrid “quantamental” – trading jobs. More investment banks are looking at data science, big data analytics and AI in a revenue-generation capacity, much as quant hedge funds have been using machine learning for algorithmic execution.

Many firms want to hire data scientists who understand trading, quants with people skills and traders who can code and understand predictive analytics.

Trading and commodities came in fourth (an average of 64 applications per posting) and fifth (63 applications per posting) respectively.

5. Hedge funds and long-only asset management

Plenty of traditional asset management firms and hedge funds hire from universities’ graduating classes, and while banking is still a huge talent pipeline for them, it’s not always so easy to move from the sell side to the buy side.

Other than data scientists and quants, the perception is that buy-side recruitment has been muted as active managers’ performance struggles and fee pressures from popular passive investment strategies like ETFs and index-tracking mutual funds have sparked a series of mergers, fund closures and job cuts.

However, the biggest and most successful firms have been getting bigger, both in terms of their assets under management and headcount, including for investment team and portfolio manager roles.

Hedge funds and asset management placed sixth (an average of 59 applications per posting) and seventh (58 applications per posting) respectively.

Photo credit: shironosov/GettyImages

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