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The easiest sectors to get a job on Wall Street now

Getting this sweet Wall Street job was as easy as pie.

If you're planning to venture out into the Wall Street job market, what sort of competition do you face?

Predictably, more people are applying to private equity jobs than anything else. A switch to the buy-side involves pitting yourself against 200+ other applicants, according to the average number of applications per job on eFinancialCareers. Last month, each open PE position got 52 applications on average, but that ratio is often much higher – in March 2016 it soared to 275, while in July of last year it was 236. So, good luck.

But which sectors are the easiest to stroll into on Wall Street?

M&A advisory

The hiring of M&A bankers is continuing apace on Wall Street, with associates and vice presidents (VPs) at the top of banks’ lists. On average, 24 professionals applied to each investment banking/M&A job posting on eFinancialCareers last month, down from 73 last August and 72 last September.

AI, machine learning and data science

For each quantitative analytics job posting on eFinancialCareers, an average of 22 people applied last month, compared to 59 in July 2016.

A recent report from BCG report says that the new skills needed across investment banking, hedge funds, mutual funds, information providers and exchanges are artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), predictive analytics, cloud computing, robotics and automation. That means engineers are in demand.

“A number of high-ranking Silicon Valley executives have been moving to hedge funds,” says Andy Legg, a director and the head of quant tech data (QTD) at GQR Global Markets, a recruitment firm. “The two worlds are similar in some ways, but they are worlds apart in terms of one being open and transparent, while the other isn’t.

“Some of these data scientists in particular are being paid incredible amounts of money,” he says.

Information technology

Information technology (IT) averaged five applications per eFinancialCareers job posting last month, while an average of seven people applied to each information services (IS) job.

The easiest sector to get a job in Wall Street now is in IT audit, according to Lisa Mogilner, a senior executive recruiter at Clear Point Group.

“The audit area has been hot for a few years and most recently the IT audit sector has blown up,” she says. “Tons of IT cyber-security, infrastructure, as well as application audit roles are in dire need.”

Anything technology-focused these days is number one in the eyes of Wall Street recruiters. Even the most traditional hiring managers have given in and now understand that the whole industry will keep changing as technology changes and Wall Street has to keep up with the times.

“Due to the nature of confidentially, the banks and other Wall Street firms must make sure they have proper controls in place to keep all of the information secured,” Mogilner says. “Technology companies are booming and having anything technology-focused on your resume is a huge plus [when applying for a job at a financial services firm].


Banks are desperate to hire cyber-security professionals, and a shortage of talent means they’re looking outside of the financial services industry.

“The most obvious job where we see huge momentum that does not show any signs of dissipating and will continue to grow is people working in cyber-security roles,” says Shawn Banerji, managing director of technology, digital and data leaders at The Caldwell Partners, a recruitment firm. “Cyber-security professionals are in incredibly high demand, and we project will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

“Infrastructure jobs are being disrupted by a shift to the cloud, so those specialists are retooling themselves as cyber-security professionals, which is a great area to grow their careers,” he says. “Software engineers able to acquire a more contemporary skill set, even people from the application side and those closer to the business, can demonstrate their value proposition.


An FIS Global report found that financial services firms are prioritizing candidates with experience in digital change/transformation and digital distribution/delivery, in addition to more traditional software development/programming expertise.


Financial services firms increased their consulting spending by more than $1bn last year, up 8.3% to reach a total value of $14.8bn, according to a survey by Source Global Research. Predominantly, this continues to be on regulatory spend, but consultants are also being brought in to implement technology projects around regulatory technology (regtech), machine learning and AI, and cognitive computing.

There were 13 applications per consultancy job posting on eFinancialCareers last month, less competitive than when the sector averaged 61 in March.

Risk and compliance

Despite the political environment, regulations will continue to play a key role in the financial services industry, so banks have to keep hiring risk management and compliance professionals. Risk and compliance jobs in investment banks are never as sought-after as front office roles, but some say they’re actually becoming more fulfilling as a career that requires a blend of technical, business and interpersonal skills.

Accounting/finance, compliance/legal, risk management, operations and global custody all averaged 10 applications per eFinancialCareers job posting last month, although the level of competition varies from month to month. For example, there were 56 applications per risk job as recently as March.

Sales and marketing and other

Aside from what’s already been mentioned, the lowest-hanging-fruit at the moment include real estate (averaging just one application per job posting last month), sales and marketing (two applications per job), retail banking (seven), FX and money markets (eight), HR/recruitment (eight) and credit (nine).

Sales and marketing take the crown as the easiest sector to get a job on Wall Street now because the overall job count was 312 last month. In addition, sales and marketing job postings have been known to spike from time to time. For example, there were 989 open roles in August of last year and 986 in January.

Photo credit: SrdjanPav/GettyImages

AUTHORDan Butcher US Editor

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