Graduate employment in the banking and finance industries
Despite the outcry against "greedy bankers" and incompetent financial institutions following the onset of the credit crunch in late 2008, Britain remains one of the world's most vibrant financial centres. The London Stock Exchange is a booming global marketplace where the fortunes of multinational companies are decided on a daily basis. The City itself, meanwhile, plays host to some of the world's biggest corporate heavyweights.
The country's financial powers don't end at the borders of the capital, either. In cities across Britain, the finance industry continues to grow, with specialist sectors like banking, investment, accountancy and insurance feeding off one another to create new opportunities for ambitious young graduates armed with the right skills.
The growth has been rapid during this year alone, with recent research by Powerchex showing an astonishing 87 per cent increase in the number of financial jobs in London during April 2010 compared to the same month last year. Recruitment in some sectors like investment banking surged by more than 200 per cent, the study showed. However, a report by financial services recruitment firm Astbury Marsden also revealed that the average number of qualified candidates for each new City job vacancy halved to just 2.7 in March 2010 from 5.7 in the same month the previous year, pointing to a growing skills shortage in the graduate recruitment market.
So where do the opportunities really lie for graduates in the finance industry, and what can they do to land such jobs? Citibank - a company with over 12,000 offices in 140 countries around the world - claims to have cultivated "the world's largest financial services network" over nearly two centuries of operation. With such massive assets and a wealth of employment options, Citibank encourages graduates to forge their own career path with the firm. "No financial institution is as well positioned as we are to take advantage of today’s international opportunities," says chief executive officer Vikram Pandit in a website statement. "I believe there is no better place for you to learn about the global financial services industry than at Citi, and I invite you to explore a career with us." To offer this taste of life in a financial services leviathan, Citi has both placement and summer programmes as well as recruitment options for undergraduate, Masters, MBA and PHD levels.
For accounting and consultancy giant KPMG, "straight talking" is the best way of attracting the brightest graduates. The firm has consistently been placed in the top ten in the Sunday Times Best Big Companies to Work For list and in 2009 was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in honour of its outstanding performance in the list since it began. Such a performance has included granting graduate employees challenging client briefs that aim to create engaging working environments. "Creating an environment in which employees can realise their full potential is one of the key drivers of success for a company," says KPMG. "Retaining valuable employees, motivating teams and identifying and rewarding effective working provides increased productivity and competitive advantage which contribute to the bottom line." The company takes on graduates in a range of sectors including audit, tax and advisory and recruits on a "rolling" basis so that there is never a deadline for applications, with all submissions processed on a first come, first served basis.
Meanwhile, those looking to ply their trade in the insurance sector will find a number of graduate programmes on offer at Axa. The company aims to recruit "talented and high performing individuals - people with the right leadership, interpersonal and management skills", who can reinforce Axa's status as a trusted market leader. Applicants are urged to use the firm's online jobs directory, to sign up for employment email alerts and to "bank" their CVs with the company in order to stay ahead of the latest Axa recruitment news.
Whatever route finance graduates opt to take, they may benefit from an extra training boost upon leaving university, particularly in light of the challenge of landing such lucrative jobs. The Workers' Educational Association has claimed that by enrolling on postgraduate courses, students can enjoy "life-changing experiences" that grant them an advantage in the increasingly competitive job market.