The top nationalities for making it in investment banking in London, New York and Hong Kong

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Which nationalities are most likely to secure a job and get ahead in investment banking? The 'legendarily hospitable' Southern Europeans who can manage people and bring in the deals? Highly quantitative graduates from French grande ecoles? The notoriously efficient, detail-oriented Germans? Chinese with impeccable academics? Actually, despite the multi-cultural nature of financial services, locals tend to win out and the more senior you get, the more exaggerated this trend becomes.

According to analysis of the eFinancialCareers CV database, which encompasses over 1.4m resumes, 'Anglo-Saxons' are most likely to secure a job in both London and New York. Native English speakers make up the vast majority of people in front office investment banking jobs on our database. In London, they constitute over 55% of the total. In New York, this figure is 66.6%. And, as the charts below show, while there's a greater range of nationalities in the junior ranks, there's a concentration of native English speakers at the top, particularly in the U.S. - Over 73% of managing directors in New York are native English speakers and the nearest competing nationality (Chinese) comprise just 1.9%.

In Hong Kong investment banking divisions are being shaken up by an influx of Mainland Chinese recruits who speak Mandarin, which is increasingly handy for drumming up advisory business from clients on the mainland. Mandarin speakers now outnumber native Hong Kongers (who primarily speak Cantonese) both as a proportion of the total and at the junior level, according to our figures.

When it comes to managing directors, however, Cantonese-speakers (namely the locals) are still winning out with close to 40% of the total and native English speakers - marginalised at the junior level - still make up a healthy proportion of MDs at 13.5%.

Back in Europe, while Spanish and Italian investment bankers may be relatively prolific in the senior M&A ranks, the Continental Europeans most likely to get a job in the City of London are the French. Our analysis suggests that French native speakers comprise 9.5% of the total number of front office investment bankers in London, In comparison, just 4.5% are Italian and 3.6% are Spanish. This could simply be down to the tendency of French investment banks, which have large operations in London, to favour local recruits. However, the quantitative nature of French graduates often means that they gravitate towards front office investment banking jobs, particularly those related to derivatives trading and structuring.

But while French bankers make up a large proportion of juniors (14%), they tend to fall away at the senior ranks, comprising just 6.7% of the total number of front office managing directors.


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