As banks cut graduate hiring, interns complain of few offers

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2016 hasn't been a good year for graduate recruitment at investment banks, and 2017 seems to be shaping up similarly.

New figures from the Association of Graduate Recruiters' annual survey in the UK suggest there were 1,934 graduate vacancies on offer in banking and financial services in the UK this year. Down 8% on the 2,094 that the AGR says were available last year.

This follows complaints from this year's summer interns that few people received offers for next year. "There weren't many offers in IBD at UBS this year," one intern tells us, "Hardly anyone seemed to get a place, and I understand the conversion rate was below the historic average." Another intern in Barclays' sales and trading business said she thought the conversion rate was low in global markets: "I understand that this year's conversion rate in my business was half its historical average."

Barclays declined to comment and UBS didn't immediately respond to a request to comment. We understand, however, that Barclays' overall intern conversion rate was on a par with 2015.

At Nomura, the conversion rate in the investment banking division (IBD), seemed higher. "We were reassured that Brexit would have no impact on the overall conversion rate and around 70%-75% of people got offers," one London intern in IBD tells us. This comes despite questions over the viability of Nomura's business post-Brexit and the closure of the Japanese bank's European equities business earlier this year.

Banks' recruitment of junior staff in London is subject to contradictory forces. On one hand, the small issue of Brexit is making it difficult to plan headcount requirements in London (although juniors hired into London could always be transferred overseas later). On the other, banks like Barclays have hiring freezes for all but junior staff, and therefore seem more likely to bring in talent at the bottom.

The 2017 graduate hiring season is already looking unusual. As we noted previously, Morgan Stanley closed applications for several of its 2017 analyst programmes in London on August 26th. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are both supposed to be using HireVue's digital interviewing system this year. Goldman Sachs also discussed introducing a personality questionnaire for next year's intake, although we can't see much sign of this on its site.


Photo: Expectation, artenot, Getty

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