Golden hellos lure graduates to City

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The Independent Online

Education Correspondent

Revelations that City banks are paying graduate recruits up to pounds 22,000 a year plus a "golden hello" were welcomed by employers yesterday as a sign of economic confidence.

Some institutions are offering new employees bonuses of up to pounds 2,000, while others are giving salary advances to help them pay off student loans. But Oxbridge's grip on the City is loosening.

The average graduate starting salary is between pounds 14,500 and pounds 15,000, but those going into the City can expect to earn much more, Kate Orebi- Gann, chairman of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said.

She said the association's most recent survey of graduates' earnings showed a small number of high earners. "There is a little tail of people earning between pounds 19,000 and pounds 22,000 and they tend to be in merchant banks, though not necessarily in the large City firms. It shows some confidence, though it has pretty well been the case for some time."

The investment bank Nomura took eight graduates last year on salaries of between pounds 20,000 and pounds 22,000. Of about 1,300 applicants, only those who spoke a second language and expected to gain at least an upper second degree were considered. Nomura does not offer bonuses or "golden hellos" to graduates but it does give them salary advances to help them find a flat and get settled in London.

It used to recruit mainly from Oxford and Cambridge, but now takes staff from universities such as Birmingham, Leeds and Durham. David McIntosh, the bank's human resources manager, said applicants were now considered purely on merit.

"Markets are cyclical and a lot of companies have seen an upturn," he added.