European students undeterred from financial careers

7th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Students in the UK, France and Italy are determined to pursue financial careers, despite a shortage of graduate jobs, new survey reveals. London remains the financial centre of choice.

The first generation of graduates since the collapse of investment firm Lehman Brothers have taken their first steps in the working world. A new survey of over 600 students in the UK, France and Italy, by global careers site, highlights the sobering impact that the past ten months have had on their career hopes and plans.

Jobs in short supply
Graduate job opportunities in the financial services sector appear to be in short supply on the continent. In Italy and France, relatively few students graduating this summer who want to enter the finance sector have been able to secure a place so far: 11 percent in Italy and almost 16 percent in France.

UK graduates have been moderately more successful, one in five having already landed their first job. In general, though, rejection letters have been the order of the day.

Students committed to finance
Despite the knock backs, the survey highlights that the overwhelming majority of undergraduates surveyed still want to work in financial services: almost 74 percent of British students said they will continue looking for a job in the sector, should they fail to have found a position by graduation.

In France and Italy, commitment levels were even higher: 76 percent of Italian students questioned and 80 percent of French said they would continue looking for financial services jobs after graduation.

Interestingly, few of the continental students seemed concerned by the tarnished reputation of the banking industry; only four percent of Italian students and nine percent of French students said they felt awkward telling friends they wanted to work in investment banking.

By contrast, over a third of UK students said they felt embarrassed mentioning their choice of career to friends. In a separate eFinancialCareers poll of 277 UK students, 26 percent admitted their parents had expressed a negative opinion about their desire to go into the City.

London is financial centre of choice
London nevertheless remains the financial centre of choice in which to work for both French and UK students wanting to enter the financial services sector. For Italian students, Milan is the preferred centre, narrowly beating London into second place.

However, many admitted that the City of London has lost some of its appeal, particularly the UK students surveyed. When their studies began, 82 percent of UK students viewed London as the financial centre of choice in which to work. Now graduated or partway through their course, only 65 percent ranked London top, citing a lack of job opportunities and higher taxes as the leading reasons.

UK and Italian students more determined to secure job
For the vast majority of students surveyed, working for a nationalised bank was viewed as an acceptable first step in their planned career path. But when it comes to getting a foot in the door, the survey indicates significant cultural differences. Whilst just over half of the Italian and British students surveyed said they would be prepared to work for nothing to secure their first job, less than half of this number (26 percent) was prepared to do so in France.

Eventually, Goldman Sachs was seen as the institution of choice for French and UK students, outranking their respective national banking groups BNP Paribas and Barclays. For Italian students, BNP and Credit Suisse were the front-runners.

John Benson, CEO and founder of, commented, “This survey shows that the allure of the financial industry to the next generation of bankers remains firmly intact and that offers are still being made to top students. However, the reputation of the sector has been severely tested over the last ten months and this has undoubtedly left its mark on the next generation of financial professionals.”

The online survey of 607 students took place between 20 May and 10 June 2009. / Expatica

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