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Banks losing the popularity contest in Canadian recruitment

Canadian banks appear to be facing an uphill battle when it comes to local recruitment, despite being more insulated from the all the negative headlines being made by European and U.S. rivals.

The popularity of all six large Canadian banks fell this last year in the eyes of local undergraduate business students, according to a new survey from branding consultancy Universum. With one exception, every bank in Canada slid similarly down the list of ideal employers – between three and five spots – suggesting the industry itself has lost some luster in the eyes of recruits, rather than there being problems with individual banks.

The one outlier was the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), which plummeted 13 spots down to 35th on the list. TD Bank is the only firm that remains in the top 10, though it fell from 5th all the way to 9th.

Bank Rank Change
TD Bank  9  -4
RBC  12  -3
Bank of Canada  15  -3
Bank of Montreal  22  -5
Scotiabank  29  -4
CIBC  35  -13


Banks were beat out by technology companies like Google and Facebook, which isn’t terribly surprising. However, several banks were bested by retailers and companies that operate in the service industry, which, in years past, wouldn’t have been as enticing to business students, at least when compared to banking.

The results fall in line with similar surveys done in Europe, where political and media scrutiny over banks is harsher. A recent survey conducted by the Financial Times found that only 9% of U.K. teenagers want to work in financial services, barely beating the number who desire a job in construction.

Meanwhile, the reputation of U.S. banks is slowly improving in the eyes of local business undergrads. In Universum’s March study of American students, not one bank in the top 100 lost ground compared to the year before. J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs each finished in the top 10, while Wells Fargo and Bank of America moved up four and nine spots, respectively.

Kevin Troy, head of research & insights, Americas, at Universum, said that U.S. banks have made major efforts to improve their presence on campus and their overall brand, hence the jump. Some U.S. firms are reportedly spending as much as $50,000 per recruit after watching tech companies poach many of their Ivy League prospects.

A recruiter who asked to remain anonymous as he works with large Canadian banks said that recruitment investments up north haven’t grown quite as aggressively as they have in the U.S.

Fortunately for Canada, most local banks booked a relatively strong first quarter, at least when compared to U.S. and European competitors that have more of a global presence.

Related articles:

Wall Street banks, consulting firms quietly gaining in popularity amongst undergrads

The ideal background for working at Goldman Sachs

How to ace an investment banking interview

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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