Alternative options if you're about to graduate and STILL don't have a banking job

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You didn't get a graduate place, but still desperately want a job in banking. What can you do? Well, there's always:


When they can't find any suitably qualified junior bankers (ie, when times are good), banks have been known to take ACAs from the Big Four accounting firms and put them into banking roles.

Jane Clark, EMEA head of campus recruiting for Merrill Lynch, says banks' leveraged finance, credit analysis and compliance departments all hire from accounting firms. In our experience, so do their corporate finance and equity research teams.

"Any experience with significant projects for big clients is going to be good. Tax and actuarial backgrounds are particularly useful," says Clark.

The bad news is that accounting isn't a guaranteed route to banking success - if things remain as they are, banks will have no need of hiring ex-accountants. And it's no use becoming an accountant if you have a 2:ii in English Literature from an obscure institution: banks still won't want you.

"University is important," says Clark. "A 2:ii will not look that good."

An MSc

If you study an MSc you'll get another go at applying to banks once it's finished, and might be able to do an internship before it starts.

It's only worth doing an MSc in finance at a few institutions: the LSE, Warwick, or Cambridge are preferred.

Don't be fooled into thinking that a Masters is the answer to academic shortcomings, cautions Brian Hood, head of graduate recruitment at Citi. "Generally a Masters does not compensate for a 2:ii," he says.


Temping might get you in the back door - but it's only realistic for back or middle-office jobs like settlements or money laundering.

Alex Niarchos, associate director of banking operations temping at recruitment firm Joslin Rowe, says front-office temping jobs come up every now and then: "We placed one person last year into a junior trading role at a smaller bank, because they needed someone with two or three European languages," he says. "We found them a graduate with an internship and German, French and Italian."

Sometimes banks who are having difficulties recruiting in a particular field will decide to hire graduate temps instead and train them up. "Derivatives are still being highly traded at the moment. If banks can't find experienced people, some will take on graduates," he says.

Niarchos says he's usually looking for people with a 2:i or 2:ii in a finance-related degree, who can demonstrate that they have some understanding of banking processes. An internship is very helpful, as is in-depth knowledge of Excel - the ability to build macros, as opposed to just filling cells.

Off-cycle hiring

Very occasionally, banks will hire people outside their usual recruitment cycle - usually because jobs come up unexpectedly. Given the circumstances, this seems fairly unlikely right now.

Clark says: "We take on a handful of graduates each year off-cycle, if there's a need in a specific business area. They may be helping with local research or need knowledge of a particular country," she says.

These positions are usually advertised via career services, so it pays to stay in touch with yours, even after you've graduated.

Professional exams

It will also help if you study some professional exams. Niarchos says: "You need a CV that looks busy. Take some professional exams, IMC or IAQ. Anything that shows you aren't just sitting on your bum."

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