How finance professionals in the US, UK and Asia are choosing where to work

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What do finance professionals across the world want from their employers? The answer partly depends on where they live, according to the 2016 eFinancialCareers ‘Ideal Employer’ rankings.

We asked more than 6,500 people working in finance in the US, UK and Asia (Hong Kong and Singapore), to rate each of the 18 criteria in the chart below out seven in terms of importance (with one being not important and seven being very important) when considering their ideal employer. The percentages relate to respondents who gave those criteria a high mark of either six or seven.

While many of the criteria boast similar percentages across markets – the desire to have a ‘positive culture’ is important everywhere, for example –  the results also reveal some interesting regional differences.

Belying the widespread public perception in the West that finance professionals are motivated primarily by money, survey respondents in the US and UK (83% and 84% respectively) voted for ‘challenging/interesting work’ as their number-one most important criteria for an ideal employer. The proportion slumps to 71% in Asia, where financiers are less worried about whether stimulating tasks come across their desks.

Although more than 80% of people in all markets voted for ‘competitive salary’ as important, only in Asia does it actually top the rankings. Talent shortages in Hong Kong and Singapore have recently enabled many candidates there to negotiate high pay rises when changing companies, helping to perpetuate a salary-driven job market.

Finance professionals globally aren’t as concerned about their bonuses as they are about their base pay. This is particularly so in the UK, where only 60% of respondents cited ‘competitive bonuses’ as important when considering their ideal employer, suggesting that EU bonus cap may be making UK banking professionals more circumspect in their expectations. The British take a similarly pragmatic view to ‘attractive benefits’, with just half of respondents voting them important – compared to 67% and 59% in the US and Asia respectively.

Despite the fact that European banks are the ones doing most of the current cost cutting, it’s American voters who are most inclined to fret about the stability and future direction of the firms they aspire to work for. 73% and 71% of them believe ‘strong executive leadership’ and ‘financial performance’ are important – 10 and 11 percentage points higher than the respective UK results for the same categories.

If you thought financial professionals in Asia were more accepting of the industry’s long working hours, our survey results suggest otherwise. 58% of them want to work for an employer with ‘manageable working hours’ – a higher percentage than both the US and UK.

However, there are some things that finance professionals appear indifferent to whatever their location. Surprisingly, given banks’ recent efforts to promote diversity and flexible working, these criteria have low importance rankings across all three markets.

View the complete 2016 eFinancialCareers Ideal Employer Rankings

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