Last week's article full of polls enquiring whether people in financial services jobs are happy with their careers indicated that, for the most part, they aren't. 38% of 477 respondents said they tolerated their jobs and 29% hated their jobs. In a separate question, 37% of 343 respondents said they were fed up and wanted to do something else.
If this is you, we would like to draw your attention to an alternative.
"More and more sellside people are moving into strategy consulting and investor relations," says Zaki Ahmed at the newly formed 'Financial Search Limited.' "These careers are much more attractive than they used to be."
Ahmed used to place equity researchers in investment banks. Nowadays, he says the appetite is entirely for people to move out of banking: "Equity researchers are still being cut in droves and corporates and strategy consultants are still hiring. Corporates especially are still sitting on a lot of cash and want to take advantage of all the people coming out of the sell-side.
"A lot of people in investment banking are fed up," he adds. "They're working long hours and getting up at 5am, but the job is less fun and they're being paid less. They want to get out and investor relations teams and strategy consultants are ready to take advantage of the fact that these are bright people."
As with banks, there are consultancy firms and consultancy firms. Pay at consultants attached to the Big Four accountancy firms tends to be more muted, but recruiters say that top strategy consulting firms like Bain, McKinsey, or Boos Allen Hamilton can easily amount to £100k base plus £100k in bonus. Firms like Monitor, Mercer Oliver Wyman and Roland Berger are also said to be hiring.
"For people coming out of investment banks, strategy consulting is seen as a more stable job," says Ahmed - "You have more security."
Investor relations roles typically pay less, but can still be lucrative and offer significant lifestyle benefits. £100k base plus a £50k to £75k bonus is feasible in investor relations and you'll be working a standard 9am-6pm day.
What if you don't have a sector specialism?
Moving out of investment banking and into strategy consulting or investor relations is easiest if your an equity researcher or an M&A/capital markets/coverage banker with a particular sector specialism. In this case, it's normal to move into the sector you're focused on.
However, Simon Stevenson of Southmoor Search, says there's also still an appetite for people to work in financial services-focused strategy teams in consulting firms, as well as in regulatory consulting teams. In this case, it helps to have a background in strategy consulting, or to use an MBA as a rudder for a change in career.
"It's not that easy just to be a capital markets and to decide to move into strategy consulting," warns Stevenson. "That's quite a leap."
Moreover, Big Four consulting roles aren't that lucrative: a senior manager with 6-10 years' experience can reportedly expect an £80k-£100k basic salary, plus a 10-20% bonus.