Securing a job at a U.S. investment bank is notoriously tough. At J.P. Morgan, only around 2% of those that apply for graduate jobs make it and the number of applications is increasing every year. Now, however, there’s a new route in.
J.P. Morgan has extended a scheme that targets school-leavers into its London operation. For the past five years it’s been offering apprenticeships at its operations centre in Bournemouth as well as its tech functions in Glasgow and Edinburgh. But, starting in September, students will be offered the chance to work in the bank’s Canary Wharf office.
There are around 70 places available across all four offices, and J.P. Morgan is quick to point out that the competition is still stiff. It didn’t provide application numbers, but tells us that there’s been a 20-fold increase in interest over the past five years.
J.P. Morgan is one of the few banks that is offering apprenticeships with a full-time job at the end of it. The apprenticeships aren't for jobs in the front office – most apprentices end up in trade support, risk management or product control.
“Every apprenticeship can be converted into a full-time role,” says Phill Paige, head of UK early careers at J.P. Morgan. “For the two cohorts in Bournemouth, so far only one person hasn’t accepted – and that’s because they went on to a do a law degree.”
The barriers to entry are quite low. J.P. Morgan asks for a three Cs at A-level for its finance programme and at least three Bs for the technology scheme, one of which needs to be in a STEM subject.
Paige insists that academic achievements are just a benchmark, and that it’s not basing its hiring decisions on this alone.
“It’s easy to assume that we ask for a relatively low academic benchmark and then just look for the students with three A*s, but that’s absolutely not the case,” he says.
The path to a full-time graduate investment banking job is all about experience. Spring insight weeks are the first steps, followed by (multiple) summer analyst programmes and then – if you’re lucky – a full-time role.
For someone studying at school or college, proving a commitment to an investment banking career is a harder ask. But Paige says that enthusiasm and experience is the differentiating factor.
“We don’t expect them to be the finished article, but there are ways that students can stand out,” he says. “Firstly, they could have engaged with the bank previously – through summer school or a networking event. They should also have really researched the industry and the firm, or been involved with societies that show an interest in finance.”
So, what happens if you make the cut? Firstly, the bank will put you through a video interview, where students are required to answer pre-recorded questions. The responses are then assessed through a panel at J.P. Morgan.
The next stage is an assessment centre where students are required to take part in a group exercise and then interview with a panel at the bank. Candidates are also invited to an evening of networking with managers at J.P. Morgan.
J.P. Morgan also says that it asks about students willingness to relocate for the job. Leaving home at 18 isn’t for everyone, but the bank says that it’s received more interest from students based outside of the local areas. At Bournemouth, for example, 30% of applicants are now from other parts of the UK, which was one of the reasons for expanding the scheme to London.
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