If you applied for an investment banking graduate job this year and didn’t get in, you’re probably licking your wounds and thinking of becoming an accountant. But before you rush into anything, remember: banking jobs aren’t what they were. There may well be better alternatives. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t necessarily care that your banking dreams have come to nothing.
1. You may well have lost that job anyway
Banks have been cutting staff. Various observers suggest they’ve still got tens of thousand of layoffs still to make. Today, PWC and the UK Confederation of British Industry predicted that there will be another 18,000 financial services job cuts in the UK over the next six months. This is not an industry in growth mode. Just because you got a graduate job today, doesn’t mean you’d still have a banking job tomorrow.
2. Technology companies are much more appealing
Guess who was top of Fortune’s list of best companies to work for in 2013? Google.
Guess who slipped 60 places in the ranking of best companies to work for, and is now ranked 93rd (but remains the highest ranked investment bank)? Goldman Sachs.
Banks are not considered desirable companies to work for any more. Technology companies are.
If you’re a graduate in Europe, you might want to observe that Google is in the process of building a huge new headquarters at King’s Cross, London.
3. You wouldn’t have made a lot of money and retired young
In the old days, it used to be possible to make a lot of money fast in banking. Take Kweku Adoboli, the rogue trader at UBS whose pay went from £45k to £360k in five years, or the head of CDO trading at Credit Suisse, who made $7.27m in 2007, when he was 33.
You can still make a lot of money in banking, but the chances of making enormous money in one year and retiring early are now slim. Pay is now lower and bonuses are spread over several years, meaning you’ll need to keep working for a while.
4. You would have been worked to death
As we noted last week, banking is not good for your health. Banks are notorious for working people hard and relying upon the intrinsic motivation of the high achievers they attract. In the first one to three years you will work yourself into the ground. After year three, your body will start fighting back.
5. The skills that would have made you a great banker may not be the skills you would like to manifest
As Bryan Goldberg, a failed banker who joined a start-up explained in a blog post last week, great bankers begin their careers as compliant followers of the system. Goldberg claimed that bankers wait patiently to scale the hierarchy and suppress their true natures in the process.
“For the first time, young people are de-prioritizing income. People in their 20s think about things like “What do I enjoy doing?” or “Is that the best use of my talents?” said Goldberg.
For him, it wasn’t banking.
6. Your motivation for going into banking was suspect
Tyler Cowen, the American economist and economics blogger, told the Financial Times that people go into banking for all the wrong reasons. “You’re young and you come from a smart, wealthy family, you’re somehow supposed to show that you’re successful quite quickly. Banking, law, consultancy allow you to do this…Your friends expect it, your potential mates do…So, we see so many talented people very quickly having to signal how smart they are but that may not be the longest term social productivity,” Cowen said.