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In a recent FT poll of 419 master in finance graduates, 76 per cent currently work in the financial sector. But with the industry hit by regulation, scandals and job cuts, do they fear for their careers?

For the 320 graduates employed in the sector, it appears that confidence in the job market is high as about 80 per cent generally feel secure in their current profession.

The survey was conducted in May 2015 among the graduation class of 2012 from schools that took part in this year’s master in finance pre-experience ranking.

However, when asked about what scenarios are likely to threaten their sense of job security, some concerns emerge. Respondents identify the three major threats to their job in descending order as: the prospects of another economic downturn; company restructuring; and government or financial regulation.

About two-thirds fear there will be reduced opportunities for promotion and about half the group worry there will be fewer new job vacancies. In addition, 38 per cent dread the possibility of losing their jobs.

In spite of this, a majority of participants — 87 per cent — report their degree boosts their sense of security in the jobs market. “The degree puts me in a different qualification bracket, which makes me more valuable,” reported one student.

Over three-quarters of the group believe the skills and knowledge gained from their studies gives them the edge. Other big advantages include the jobs prospects afforded by the degree and ​access to the school’s alumni network.

Despite the sector’s reputation for having a questionable work-life balance, there is a high commitment to the finance profession. Some 98 per cent say they still expect to be in the sector in five years' time and only seven per cent have sought work outside the field in the past six months. Graduates are attracted to their profession mainly because of the salaries and the reputation of the company they work for.

Just over 40 per cent claim they work too many hours, with one graduate pointing out that long hours in certain firms appears to be an “industry standard”. James Schroder, executive vice-president of global executive search firm DHR International in the US, points out that job security is no longer a given.

“Companies tend to hire candidates into jobs and sometimes projects that don’t necessarily have a defined career path. This does not mean the project is short-term or that once the project is complete, they will need to move to another company. It only means that candidates need to be vigilant about managing their careers both internally as well as externally,” he says.

One individual advises on being adaptive to the changes in the sector, which can involve continuous study. About 30 per cent already have professional qualifications, which include the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and the Financial Risk Management (FRM). Roughly two-thirds of the group have greatly benefited from these qualifications in their careers, while one person expressed regret for not studying the CFA as he is confident it would make him more marketable.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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