If you have an ACA and you're hoping to move into an investment bank, you haven't chosen the best moment to do so. As we suggested a few months ago, banks' ACA hiring appetite has turned sparrow-like. Investment banks simply aren't sucking in accountants the way they did in the past.
"Banks that used to hire 50 ACAs are now hiring just 1 or 2," says one accounting recruiter. "The volume is much, much lower than it used to be."
To make matters worse, it seems ACAs who go into accounting roles in investment banks can no longer expect to be paid a bonus - or at least not until they reach VP level. The tables below are from the 2012 Astbury Marsden salary and bonus survey, released earlier this year, but Melissa Stierwalt, an accounting recruiter at Astbury Marsden says the figures still apply.
"It used to be possible to earn a bonus working in a junior accounting role at an investment bank, but they're now far less common," says Stierwalt. "Most people who receive bonuses now will be in strategic roles that add value, and those roles take 5-6 years to achieve."
Source: Astbury Marsden
However, it may not be that bad. One accounting recruiter says it's been like this before, but has always improved.
Simon Lindrea, regional director for Michael Page, says there is still some hiring - just a lot less than there was previously. “If you’re a newly qualified ACA and you have a good academic background and some financial services exposure, you will definitely still get a job in financial services. It may just take longer and it may be with a smaller house,” he informs us.
Stierwalt says accountants are occasionally being hired into regulatory roles- although regulatory experience is usually mandatory. She also remains optimistic that banks' accountancy hiring will recover in 2013 - if only because a lot of financial services accountants have been sticking in roles they're potentially unhappy with for a long time now. "There's been no churn in core finance roles for 18 months," says Stierwalt. "People are aware that there are few jobs to go to, but once one organisation starts hiring again the churn will start and the market will come back up."