The problem with graduate jobs at investment banks

If you’re trying to get a graduate job at an investment bank this year, you’ll need determination. Around 60 people apply for each graduate role in the UK’s financial and professional services sector, and candidates who succeed often end up applying for hundreds of jobs. It’s a numbers game. The number of graduates hired by investment banks is small; the number of people chasing those jobs is huge.

Last summer’s review of the UK’s graduate recruitment market by research firm High Fliers puts investment banks halfway down the list in terms of the number of new graduates they employed in 2020.

Yes, banks employ a lot more graduates than consulting firms, but they employ a lot fewer than the public sector and the Big Four accounting and professional services firms.

High Fliers is updating its figures for 2020 graduate recruitment next week, but as last summer’s chart below shows, it’s unwise to apply for jobs in investment banks alone. There are far more graduate opportunities in ‘banking and finance’ broadly defined (eg. HSBC, Lloyds, Santander) than in the niche group of top investment banks (eg. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan). And there are even more jobs in the Big Four. 

When you’re devising a job search strategy as a student, therefore, you need to be flexible. An investment banking job is your nice to have. An accountancy and professionals services or broad banking and finance job is your safety net.

Sarah Butcher –


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