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How Trump has turned people off Wall Street’s hottest sectors

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Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in Manhattan

Wall Street has a problem – Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance has turned off overseas applicants, and it’s the hottest sectors that are suffering.

Quants are the new kings of Wall Street, and banks are clamouring to hire more technology professionals in the age of automation, and yet fewer people are applying to these sectors in the U.S. than this time last year. Our data suggests that application numbers for IT jobs are down 20% for the first five months of 2017 compared the same period last year – before Trump’s election and before the UK voted to leave the European Union – while applications to quant jobs fell by 19.3% year on year.

Just as the Brexit referendum has impacted financial services professionals’ desire to apply to jobs in the City of London, Trump’s controversial presidency – along with the lure of tech behemoths such as Amazon and Google – have impacted the desirability of employment in the financial services industry across the U.S.

International applications to U.S.-based jobs from candidates in the U.K., Canada and Singapore/Hong Kong are down approximately 22%, 42% and 30% respectively year-to-date compared to the same period of 2016. Candidates based in the U.S. are not as dissuaded from applying – applications are down by around 14% over the same period.


Trump was elected on November 8 and his inauguration took place on January 20, meaning 2016’s figures reflect pre-election applications while 2017’s figures show applications in the wake of Trump’s surprise win. The president’s talk of changing the H1-B program and more significant changes to the immigration system has put a damper applications for tech and quant roles – typically the hardest for Wall Street firms to fill.

“More people coming back from abroad than asking to go abroad, and there are not as many individuals from abroad trying to come here – if they don’t have a work visa already, good luck,” said Robin Judson, the founder of recruitment firm Robin Judson Partners.

But what explains the equally significant drops in applications to U.S. jobs on the buy side – asset management, hedge funds, private equity and venture capital, collectively down around 22% year-over-year – as well as corporate banking (-21%), research/quantitative analytics (-19%) and IT/information services/operations (-20%)?

Some Wall Street professionals have left financial services altogether

One factor is that more experienced financial services professionals are changing careers, with many landing jobs at Amazon or big Silicon Valley firms such as Google and Uber, while others have joined a startup or started their own company.

“Fewer people are pursuing a longer-term career in financial services – after getting a few years of experience on Wall Street they are moving into other fields,” said Judson. “They may be moving to technology firms but they are not coders or programmers. People who have been bankers or fundamental analysts or research analysts on the buy side are moving into sales and marketing, financial and strategy roles.”

Photo credit: robertcicchetti/GettyImages

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