If you want a brand new job in banking, you have – in theory – many of them to choose from. With bonuses paid, we’re in the prime hiring season. And yet, if you’re on the market, you may be experiencing something more akin to famine that feast in your efforts to find a new role.
The good news is that it’s not you: it’s the broader market climate. If you can’t find a new finance job easily, you can probably attribute your struggle to one of the six issues below. Resolving any of them, unfortunately, is another matter.
1. Banks are being incredibly fussy and incredibly indecisive
Recruiters in London say this is a bigger issue than ever. Line managers want the Nordic speaking salesperson with a first class degree and seven years’ experience at a top tier bank and they will settle for nothing less. Worse, when a recruiter actually finds someone who fits its description, the line manager struggles to get sign-off to bring them on board.
“Decisions on hiring are taking an age and the benchmarks for recruiting are higher than ever,” says the head of one front office investment banking search firm in London, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And then in around 50% of cases, we find a candidate and sign-off is withheld.”
2. Roles are being filled internally
As banks try to save money on external hires, the ‘internal mover’ is still a thing. When UBS released its annual report last month, it revealed that 34% of its open positions were filled internally – the implication being that around 4,500 jobs that might otherwise have gone to outsiders went to people who were merely shifting roles within the bank. Nonetheless, 8,988 people were still hired from outside…
3. There are hiring freezes
And then there are the hiring freezes. If you’re looking for a new job now, you might want to avoid Barclays where Jes Staley has been busily cutting headcount by failing to replace people as they leave. Barclays’ hiring freeze is indefinite – it’s even removed the investment bank from its divisional categories on its job search page.
The good news, clearly, is that Barclays is merely one bank. There are others – like Deutsche – which have big hiring plans, at least in equities technology and electronic trading.
4. It’s all about hiring support staff and consultants
As you will know if you read this site with any regularity, the jobs in banking are not in the front office. They are especially not for old-school salespeople and traders and especially not in fixed income. The jobs in banking now are mostly for infrastructure and control staff – often on a contract basis.
Take Goldman Sachs. When the U.S. bank’s London operation released its results for 2015 last month, it revealed that 77% of the net hiring that took place there in 2015 was of support staff and consultants.
5. You’ve just been ‘clicking buttons’
As a colleague of Goldman Sachs’ technology head Marty Chavez expounded in an interview with the New York Times, finance is changing. In future, Chavez has reportedly been telling everyone that jobs that are “purely manual” and involve “just clicking buttons” will disappear as they’re automated.
The same might apply to jobs that involve talking to clients and making markets in ways that can be done more cost effectively using computers. There are plenty of equities market makers looking for “new opportunities” in London now – and many of them have been out of the market for six months or more.
6. You’re in the wrong place
Credit Suisse is cutting 30% of its headcount in London, but hiring traders in Dublin and support staff in Wroclaw. Goldman Sachs is mostly hiring in Poland, Mumbai and Salt Lake City, and Deutsche is moving jobs to Birmingham.
There are jobs in the world’s major financial centres. There are just fewer of them as non-critical roles are dispersed to cheaper places.
7. You’re not an experienced associate or VP
And lastly, maybe you’re too senior. Since 2012, Goldman has increased its headcount of analysts and associates by 12% and reduced its headcount of managing directors and partners by 2%. The sweet-spot for hiring now is typically individuals with between five and seven years’ experience – at experienced associate and VP level. Fewer people wanted to work in banking immediately after the financial crisis and there’s a persistent hole in the ranks as a result.