The real reason 20 year-olds love Goldman Sachs and JPM

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The theory goes that the young these days aren't very bothered about money. Millennials and Generation Y are supposed to be more interested in flexibility, coaching and culture than in cold hard cash. This may well the case. However, it doesn't seem to apply to students who want to work in financial services: they're still after the money.

eFinancialCareers' research into the 'Ideal Employers' of the students who come to this site suggests the standard Millennial preoccupations don't hold with students who want to work in finance. Their preferred employers aren't known for short working hours, corporate social responsibility and a touchy-feely work environment. - They're known for paying well and offering challenging work.

This is why Goldman Sachs tops our 2017 ranking of the companies our students want to work for. Goldman ranked above the likes of Google and PWC, even though the latter were rated more highly for manageable working hours.  For finance-oriented students, a lack of flexibility doesn't seem to be a turn off. What finance-oriented students want is pay: big salaries, big bonuses. And it's here that Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan, and Morgan Stanley - the top three banks in our ranking - excel.

Students' preoccupation with pay may not come as surprise to banks themselves. Goldman Sachs surveyed its own summer interns last year and found that they were steady, thrifty, types whose priority was saving a deposit for a house and getting lots of exercise. The portrait painted was of a group of students who worked hard and looked after their health. A flexible job and participation in corporate social responsibility programs was not the priority. Similarly, research by the UK Resolution Foundation in February found that Millennials are primarily interested in security. For a generation facing high house prices and with high debts from education, this is hardly surprising.

Young people's perception that Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan are the big payers in banking may not be mistaken. The most recent figures for top staff in the City of London suggests the two banks are far more generous than the rest.  During the first three years of an investment banking career, however, the Dartmouth Partners bonus survey suggests that Bank of America Merrill Lynch also looks like a good bet.

So, does students' overwhelming interest in money mean that banks can drop their initiatives for reducing working hours and return to the bad old ways of working juniors day and night, irrespective of the risks to their health? Does it also mean that all those trips to muck-out urban farms and paint local schools can be dispensed with?  Almost certainly not. Students who aspire to work in finance may be primarily interested in pay and challenging work, but banks still need to compete with funky technology firms and the lure of entrepreneurialism. All students who want to work in finance may be in it for the money, but the best will have other options and want a good life as well.


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