June 23, 2013 10:35 pm

Finance graduates confident of job security

UBS headquarters in London©EPA

Cuts: UBS is among banks that have reduced staff

Finance graduates remain confident about keeping their jobs in the sector despite high-profile staff cuts at the big banks. A recent FT survey found that graduates who are employed in finance report significantly higher job security than their former classmates who are employed in other fields.

The poll* of masters in finance alumni was conducted among those who graduated in 2010 from programmes featured in this year’s rankings.

Among the 80 per cent of respondents who are working in finance three years after completing their studies, most (83 per cent) told the FT that they feel secure or very secure in their current jobs. Only 67 per cent of those working in other sectors rate their positions as secure.

Pascale Viala, director of the financial economics track at Edhec Business School in France, says that more selective recruitment for financial roles may be a significant reason for this. “The selection process is so competitive right now, that if they succeeded in getting in, they are confident they will stay.”

More secure terms of employment may also inform this sense of security, according to Eloïc Peyrache, associate dean at HEC Paris. He cites research by the French business school that identified the “pretty surprising” tendency for contracts in the financial sector to provide greater security than in other leading sectors.

Announcements of mass job cuts at major banks, including UBS and Credit Suisse, appear to have unsettled less than half of those employed in finance. Of poll respondents, 52 per cent indicated that recent redundancies in the City of London and other financial centres had not undermined their sense of job security.

Their confidence can be attributed in part to their completion of a master's degree in their field. The majority, 84 per cent, of financial sector graduates feel that having a masters in finance increases their job security. This confidence, Ms Viala suggests, may also reflect a young generation with belief in their own capabilities.

Graduates working in finance and other sectors identify the prospect of a further economic downturn as the greatest threat to their job security. Such concerns are particularly strong among those outside of finance, 54 per cent of whom cite this as their principal worry. “[The recession] has been a common shock,” says Prof Peyrache, “and it is not only banks that are suffering – it is all sectors.”

The financial crisis and subsequent recession has forced finance students to re-evaluate the importance of job security, says Fiona Sandford, executive director of careers and global business at London Business School. “Back in 2006 or 2007, I would have said that it was absolutely not a priority for them.” Today, she says, more graduates at the school are interested in roles at larger companies, where a well-trodden career path is often more clear.

Among the class of 2010, 92 per cent of those working in the financial sector say that job security is important. Only 80 per cent of their peers working outside of finance rate it as highly. This is unsurprising, says Ms Sandford, given that the priority for most of those going into finance is to “apply their technical abilities and make money”, for which retaining a good position is a prerequisite.

Moreover, a higher proportion of finance sector graduates expect to have the same employer five years from now. Compared with 56 per cent of non-finance workers, 65 per cent say it is likely they will work for the same company in 2018.

The apparent commitment to the sector of those graduates working in finance is striking. Of those surveyed, 96 per cent say it is likely that they will remain in the sector in five years – and 35 per cent say it is certain.

Such decisiveness contrasts with their fellow finance graduates who are employed in other fields. Despite having taken a step away from finance, 53 per cent see it as likely that they will be employed in the sector in five years. Only 3 per cent rule it out entirely.

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* A total of 354 masters in finance graduates submitted completed surveys to the FT in May 2013

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