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Ambitious, workaholic, extroverts: The perfect personality for investment banking

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Want to fit in at Goldman Sachs? You’re likely to be an ambitious extrovert who thrives on stress. If you’re trying to cut it at Citigroup, meanwhile, you have to be a very ambitious workaholic who prefers to foist your will on to colleagues, rather then seek consensus. Credit Suisse bankers, though, are the most competitive bunch of the lot.

Do you really know what personality traits are likely to lead to a successful banking career? The reality, according to a survey of 70,000 professionals by work analytics firm ViewsHub, depends on which big investment bank you end up working for. ‘Fit’ interviews – where an investment bank assesses a potential candidate’s personality against its own perceived culture – are a key element for getting hired. But there may be a disconnect between how the bank views the way its employees should behave, and how the reality of how colleagues perceive them.

ViewsHub says that it asks team members to rank their colleagues on various personality traits in order to monitor the performance and culture of particular firms and divisions. It awards then awards a score, to a maximum of 100 and its software is sold to banks’ HR teams.

There are common personality traits among employees of all the top banks. The vast majority count ‘ambition’ among the top two traits, but Citigroup contains the highest proportion of ambitious bankers with a score of 93.2. A large proportion of Citigroup bankers were also described as being both competitive and workaholics.

Goldman Sachs favours a combination of ambition and extroversion, according to the survey, but ranked bottom for ‘competitiveness’ among all the major investment banks, despite its reputation as a political place to work with a will to be number one in most business areas. A higher proportion of bankers were also described as having a consensual, rather than dominant, way of working. They were also most likely to be resilient to a stressful working environment.

This chimes with Goldman’s own new personality test that it launched in August to make “smarter hiring decisions” on the new graduates it takes on. Goldman quizzes applicants on openness (intellect, imagination, desire for knowledge and new experiences), conscientiousness (ability to make plans and follow through), extroversion and introversion (sociability), agreeableness (how well you get on with other people and the extent to which you’re willing to compromise and put their needs before your own) and neuroticism or emotional stability (how you react to bad news). The perfect hire should have a lot of agreeableness, extroversion and conscientiousness, it said.

ViewHub’s research suggests that the most competitive bankers reside at Credit Suisse, that Standard Chartered and BNP Paribas have the highest proportion of extroverts, and that Citigroup has a higher proportion of bankers who are workaholics, ambitious and more dominant than any other institution. Below is the full breakdown of the figures provided by ViewsHub. Do you agree?

Contact for news, tips and comments: pclarke@efinancialcareers.com

Image: Getty Images


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