Banks Are Struggling to Attract MBA Graduates

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Banks Are Struggling to Attract MBA Graduates

Finance is struggling to attract MBA graduates who are increasingly preferring jobs in consulting, marketing, and big tech.

Finance was the most popular career choice for MBA graduates as recently as 2009, but things have changed. By 2016, consulting jobs and marketing roles had become more popular, according to data compiled by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Investment banking loses its business school chic

Amazon, Google and Microsoft have arrived in force on campuses, and now vacuum up the talent at many leading business schools, the Financial Times reported. The biggest recruiter at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (US) this year was Amazon. The US school’s top 10 hirers consisted entirely of tech companies and management consultancies. Bill Boulding, dean of Fuqua, told the Financial Times:

Banks still hire people but they have to up their game. If you are going to attract the current generation of students you have to give them something that has meaning and purpose, not just the opportunity to make a lot of money.

The financial crisis pushed a lot of banks to scale back on MBA recruiting, and in the intervening years consultancies and tech firms have matched Wall Street for pay, according to Jeff McNish, assistant dean of career development in the admissions department of Virginia’s Darden School of Business (US). McNish says:

The days have gone when banks could persuade students to join them by offering significantly more generous salary packages.

Focusing on quality, not generosity

JPMorgan Chase cancelled its European MBA hiring programme in 2013 because it was hiring so few graduates from the handful of schools it worked with, according to Rob Walke, co-head of campus recruiting at the bank.

The bank continues to maintain a presence on US business school campuses because, he says, the culture of moving from MBA into banking is more ingrained there. He says:

You will always have those people who knew from birth that they wanted to go into corporate finance, but gone are the days when we would be inundated with students who want to go into banking.

JPMorgan has changed its pitch to the MBA students it targets for recruitment, focusing more on the quality of the roles available than the generosity of the remuneration package.

There is also a stronger emphasis on quality of life, with guarantees to protect weekend leave and holiday time and the opportunity to swap with counterparts based in offices overseas, according to Walke.

Check out: What’s Next after MBA Graduation

Banks have tried to minimise the “culture shock” for MBA students who have been out of the workplace for two years while studying, according to Stéphane Rambosson, chief executive of advisory and executive search firm Vici.

In Europe there has always been a cultural divide in banks between those who have MBAs and those who do not, according to Mr Rambosson. He says:

Banks are much more focused on doing things than some of the intellectualising you get taught at business school. MBAs produce people who are great for consultancies because they can produce great PowerPoint presentations. Banks are much more deal-focused.

Christina Decker worked for Google and Accenture before starting her MBA studies at Fuqua last year. A few weeks into the course she secured an internship at the San Francisco offices of Credit Suisse, close to where she grew up.

Ms Decker is excited about moving into banking, but says she is doing so to learn how she can support the many tech companies in Silicon Valley. She says:

I care a lot about this industry and want to see it succeed. These are my hometown companies.

Source: The Financial Times

Valentin Vassilev

About Valentin Vassilev

Valentin Vassilev has a Master’s degree in International Media Studies from Deutsche Welle Akademie and the University of Bonn as well as a Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Veliko Tarnovo. He has a background in business journalism, having written about European political, economic and business issues. Valentin is currently a content writer and editor at business education services provider Advent Group.

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