Finance Round Up

As the global financial upheaval and its effect on employment continues to unfold, I thought it was time for an update.

For an excellent balanced view of the impact on financial recruitment, my colleague, Scott Foley has written a great post for the undergrad blog. It’s entitled “Should I still apply for finance placements and internships?” but is just as applicable for full time jobs in the finance sector. Couldn’t put it better myself, so I won’t try.

To add to Scott’s comments, here are some insights we’ve gleaned from employers recently in a number of areas where interest in jobs is significantly up :

  • Accountancy firms have been experiencing an increase in applications. Maybe audit – or insolvency – work seems more secure these days than positions on the trading floor of an investment bank for anyone of a financial bent?
    If you’re concerned that all this extra interest in the accountancy firms will affect your chances, you could always consider some of their less well known areas of work. For example, talking to PWC today, Andrew Bargery, their Student Recruitment Manager in Manchester, was keen to point out that they have vacancies in Manchester (and across the UK) in their public sector accountancy section. Here, you would be auditing major public sector organisations (like a large university not a million miles from here …), looking at risk management and other services, whilst still studying for the coveted ACA qualification. He also welcomed applications from postgraduates (I’ve got my fingers crossed for a quote or a profile of one of their recent PhD recruits). This is backed up by a page on their recruitment website specifically devoted to postgrads and the fact that a fifth of their new recruits have a postgraduate qualification.
  • Does it surprise you that the Financial Services Authority has seen a 25% increase in applications? Their Graduate Development programme is also open to postgrads – see “Nicola’s profile” for the experiences of an MSc postgrad who joined them last year. Additionally, they have Legal, Actuarial, Management Accountancy, Economic and HR Development programmes. Closer scrutiny of the financial sector in the future seems a dead cert, so this is one to consider if job security is important to you. The closing date for their graduate scheme is also 23rd December, so you’ve also got a bit more time to hone that application – though bear in mind my previous post on why leaving applications to the closing date is a bad idea, particularly this year.
  • Or how about one of those two certainties in life – taxes*? Having just spoken to HM Revenue and Customs, they are not only experiencing an increase in applications, but have also increased the number of opportunities available since last year, with three recruitment programmes (Tax, Management Fast Track and Accountancy). With the reconfiguration of the department, it’s not just tax they deal with now – they also include payment of benefits, and policing imports and exports. They have offices UK wide, including graduate vacancies in the North West, but you’ll need to do well in the selection process to increase your chances of going where you want – the highest performing applicants get to pick their locations first. 
    (*I was going to make some predictable and facetious remark about undertaker applications, but then I remembered that one of our big local employers, The Co-operative Group does have an excellent graduate programme which not only includes managing their retail stores, but also their Pharmacy and Funeralcare businesses. So I stopped myself, just in time.)

And finally, although recruitment numbers for investment banking do generally seem to be down on last year (seems to be around 10% down, on average), most of them have still been looking for excellent candidates this year and we know from recent feedback that Manchester students have been featuring in this category.