You’re a university student and you’re thinking of applying to work for Barclays’ investment bank. But following the bank’s big strategy day in May, Barclays is pulling back from some areas of investment banking. In the process, it’s laying off around 7,000 people (around 28% of its investment banking staff) between now and the end of 2016. Is really the sort of place you want to be joining for a first job?
Predictably, Barclays’ says graduates have nothing to fear. “Barclays places great value on our graduate recruitment programme and the ongoing development of our junior colleagues, who continue to play an important role in meeting the needs of our customers and clients now and in the future,” the bank tells us.
Accordingly, Barclays’ 2014 summer analyst programme is now underway and the bank has a number of interns in situ – with many in London seemingly drawn from the economics department of Warwick University…Applications for Barclays’ 2015 full time graduate recruitment programme aren’t open yet, but the bank’s careers website still says the global markets business hires students across products including commodities, credit, emerging markets, equities, FX and interest rates – even though Barclays is withdrawing from large parts of commodities trading and pulling back from trading interest rate products.
Ian Gordon, a banking analyst at Investec Bank, says Barclays isn’t necessarily a bad place to join if you’re a university leaver. “Yes, there’s going to be a re-positioning of Barclays’ investment bank, but Barclays still has a meaningful market presence and will still provide young people with the opportunity to work with cutting edge technology across a range of disciplines,” he tells us. As at many banks, Gordon points out that Barclays is seeking to reduce costs by cutting expensive senior staff – a strategy that could actually benefit keen young juniors.
If you’re thinking of joining Barclays as a junior in 2015, it’s a good idea to pay very close attention to the strategy it laid out in May (click here to see the presentation). This shows the areas of banking that Barclays wants to stay in and the areas it plans to get out of. The wisdom of joining Barclays as a graduate now depends upon the business area you’re joining, says Christopher Wheeler, a banking analyst at Mediobanca. Barclays’ is particularly pulling back from fixed income trading – so you might want to avoid its fixed income markets business, for example. However, Wheeler says that equities trading, M&A, and equity and debt capital markets bankers should be fine.
Either way, Wheeler cautions that the experience of joining a bank on the cusp of a major restructuring could be unsettling for a 21-year-old. “It’s going to be disruptive and you’re going to see a lot of departures,” says Wheeler. He adds that Barclays’ graduate hires will need to learn the lesson that most people in banking pick up over a long period: “Don’t get too friendly with the people you work with. They could be gone when you come in tomorrow.”