It's never been easy to get into an investment bank as a student, but this year it was harder still.
Financial News has published some figures on the number of applications for internship and other positions in investment banks in 2021. We've summarized them in the table below. Many of the numbers are UK and Europe specific, but they give an idea of the mountain students applying to banks need to climb.
Goldman Sachs received 100,000 applications for all of its 2,900 global internships this year. This was up 50% on 2020 and constitutes a ratio of 34 applications to each job. While 34:1 might not sound too bad, Financial News suggests applications to prestigious front office jobs like M&A and sales and trading are far higher: JPMorgan had 50,000 applications for just 400 jobs in its investment banking division (M&A and capital markets) this year - a ratio of 125:1.
The increase in graduate applications for jobs at leading banks matches soaring applications across most industries. According to the most recent report from graduate research firm High Fliers, the number of graduates applying to consulting, investment banking and broader banking and finance jobs in the UK was up 44%, 42% and 40% respectively this year. On this basis, it seems that some banks may even be missing out on applications as students flock to the big brands.
It's not uncommon for the best jobs in banking to go to students from wealthy families, who understand how the industry works. John Craven, a former director of structured products and cross-asset solutions at Merrill Lynch and SocGen, now runs UpReach, a charity that helps students from non-privileged backgrounds* get top jobs.
"You have to be very well-prepared to get a graduate offer from a bank," says Craven. "You need to do a lot of research into the area you want to go into, and you need a genuine interest in the industry." You also need to be highly familiar with banks' recruitment process - it's no good deciding you want to work in banking at the end of your second year, you need to be in the game from your first year at university. "If you know the application game, you have a much higher chance of success," Craven says. Don't be deceived by the raw numbers.
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