Investment banking is an outlier. Pay for juniors in banks may not have risen for ten whole years, but maybe that's because it's so much higher than pay in other sectors? How much higher? Take a look at the chart below.
Based upon figures from the annual survey of 208 graduate employers conducted by the UK's Association of Graduate Recruiters, it shows median pay for interns by sector. Investment banking interns earn 42% more than their nearest rivals in 'banking and financial services' and 82% more than interns working for construction companies or construction consultancies. Even so, the overall figure - at £30k - seems a bit low based upon our knowledge of pay for banking juniors.
The discrepancy between pay for banking interns and pay for interns in other industries might help explain the ongoing appeal of graduate programmes at top investment banks. In June, Goldman Sachs said it received no fewer than 223,849 applications for its analyst and summer analyst (intern) positions in 2016. Our estimates suggest the firm has around 4,000 analyst and summer analyst positions available, so this suggests Goldman has 55 applications per intern and graduate job.
The AGR puts the figure even higher: across UK investment banking and asset management as a whole, it says there were 106 applicants per graduate job last year and 81 applications per internship. With application numbers like that, it's little surprise that the AGR also found investment banks were the most enthusiastic users of new video interviewing software provided by companies like Hirevue: nearly 60% of investment banks are using digital interview, compared to 8% of construction companies. The good news is that the AGR also found that investment banks and asset managers increased their graduate vacancies by 24% last year.
As we've noted before, internships are a key part of the investment banking application process. Nowadays, if you haven't had at least one summer internship in an investment bank, you really aren't going going to land a full time position when you graduate.
However, as competition for graduate roles in investment banks heats up, getting a first banking job now is about more than just summer internships: you also need to have attended 'introduction days' and spring weeks before you even get a sniff of a summer intern position. Only the best of the best get summer internships in investment banks. Maybe that's why they're paid so much?