The good news is that even with continued worries about the economic outlook, banks are today loath to neglect their graduate training schemes. Vacancies do exist outside the graduate programmes that have filled their quotas for this year. It’s just that it takes more than a decent academic record to stand out these days and a bit of lateral thinking to find growth areas that would previously have been considered unattractive.
James Bennett of City finance job specialists eFinancialCareers, says banks seem to have learned their lessons from the 2001 to 2003 years when they cut back on graduate intakes with disastrous results. “That decision gave them a huge problem in 2006/07 because there was a huge cohort missing,” Bennett says. “It is a cyclical business and so they need to keep feeding in graduates and turning them into revenue generators four or five years down the track.”
So what should jobseekers be considering while they mull over a City career? And which jobs are currently hot within financial services?
Firstly, forget the doom-mongering and banker bashing the wider media has indulged in over the past year. While the animosity levelled at bankers during the credit crunch may have been a deterrent to a minority of graduates, recruiters report that hiring is actually up this year as banks gear up for the challenges ahead.
While we’re a long way from the boom days of mergers and acquisitions, hot areas such as interest rate trading and foreign exchange are important as there’s money to be made from market volatility.
Similarly, risk and compliance are key areas that should be considered by graduates looking to make a name for themselves. Anyone who can learn to help a bank navigate through the jumble of new rules and regulations such as Basel III will be in demand. Middle and back office roles also remain important. These may not be the sexiest areas of the banking and finance workplace, but they are nevertheless crucial to institutions’ success.
Secondly, now is a fascinating time to go into the City with so much going on. Experience gained in times of change is invaluable, says Bennett, making workers even more attractive for future employers.
For the Class of 2010 – provided you have the right drive and qualifications and are prepared to think laterally – there has never been a better time to launch a successful career in the City.