Investment banking: Groomed for future greatness

City banks are trying to improve their retention rates of staff by using 'talent managers' to cultivate graduates. Kate Hilpern reports

Mention a career in investment banking and the first thing that springs to most people's minds is big bucks. But in a market that is becoming ever more competitive and cut-throat, employers are realising they need to find other ways to attract the cream of graduate crop before their rivals do. Enter talent management. So what exactly is this new offering, where did it come from and where can you find it?

"People know that what really counts is how people perform and it can leave them wondering to what extent the banks really care about their wellbeing," says Chris Archer, head of financial services at HR recruitment and talent management firm Macmillan Davies Hodes. "The fact that, historically, banks have been very quick to exit staff in a downturn has added to this perception."

But since investment banks have begun fighting for the brightest and best graduates, they are acknowledging that they need to be seen as a more attractive option, says Archer. Investing in people's long-term plans - otherwise known as talent management - has become a key way of achieving this. In fact, it is no longer uncommon for banks to have dedicated talent teams.

James Fallon, director of employment agency Interim Performers, says that talent management is also seen as a retention tool. "At middle and senior level, there can be quite an exodus of people from investment banks moving to places like smaller investment management firms. Naturally, banks are increasingly looking for ways to stop this happening."

At Deutsche Bank, talent management includes graduates being guaranteed a continuous development programme with a three- to five-year time line. "We are also very committed to educating our managers so that they are equally focused on developing and retaining talent," says Angela Cassidy, global head of graduate training.

Many employers are focusing on the initial training that graduates receive - ensuring that it stands them in good stead for the long run. Steve Gardner, HR consultant at CIBC, explains: "Our graduate rotation scheme takes in the whole of the front office. So while most banks give an option of working on the trading floor or in corporate finance, our scheme allows for both. This 'try before you buy' approach is, in our opinion, an excellent way of managing new talent."

For Alan Someck, who started on the graduate scheme last year, it actually led him to change his career path. "Before I joined the bank, I thought I'd be more attracted to trading. But when I did part of my rotation in leveraged finance, I realised my skills would be more suited there."

Gardner adds that CIBC's strong emphasis on objective setting is also popular with graduates. "Everyone is set objectives at the beginning of the year, which are reviewed at the middle and end of the year." The bank's commitment to what he calls '360-degree feedback' is equally effective, he says. "It means performance reviews aren't just about getting a school report, but you hear back from your peers and others."

Investment banks have also been looking at how they can encourage internal job mobility among their workers, thereby ensuring that they remain challenged and stay with the business. Merrill Lynch has a dedicated jobs intranet and has set up networks to encourage more applications from women and people from minority groups. In fact, diversity is an area that all the banks have been looking at closely as a way of attracting and hanging onto talented people who may have been overlooked in the past.

Goldman Sachs offers diversity programmes across the firm. One example is an initiative that targets the female associate population. Claire Goodeve, associate in the financing group in the investment banking division, says: "There were three angles to the training. One was technical skills - things like merger modelling and advanced accounting in which you need to crunch the numbers accurately and do a great job. The second was leadership skills - things like presentation and negotiation skills that are maybe less tangible but are also extremely important to master as you step up in the organisation. The third angle was networking - meeting new people and building a global framework of colleagues. This really facilitates expanding your sphere of influence which is crucial as you become more senior."

Goldman Sachs also has an "internal mobility" website, which carries virtually all the firm's vacancies. Tom Osmond, executive director, adds that Goldman Sachs University offers about 2,000 different programmes, covering everything from markets and products to leadership and professional skills to programmes on navigating the firm's distinct culture. "About 95 per cent of our employees took at least one course offered by the university last year," he says.

When it comes to talent management among fresh graduates, the firm - along with many other investment banks - prides itself on a mentoring and buddy scheme. Meanwhile, the Royal Bank of Scotland - which, while not a pure investment bank is in the same market - focuses on coaching. "We have taken the view that we graduates are key to the future of our organisation, therefore you don't want to lose them," says Neil Roden, HR director. "Since today's graduates are generally very interested in their own development, employers in this sector can no longer afford to only look at salaries as a way to hook them in. In fact, I think talent management will only get bigger."

Mark Pettman, director of Michael Page City, agrees. "I think banks have no choice, particularly as graduates no longer just think about investment banking now, but also other careers such as marketing, HR and accounting."

'You feel that you're not just another body among hundreds of others'

Avril O'Malley, 27, is a sales analyst at Lehman Brothers

Jobs in investment banking are pretty standard across the board, so I chose Lehman Brothers based on its good social culture and the fact that they seemed so committed to their graduates' professional development and long-term career aspirations.

The fact that I've been moved to so many different departments in the four years that I've been with Lehman is evidence of this. Once you learn a role and have done it for some time, you can get fed up, but Lehman are obviously keen to keep their graduates stimulated and challenged.

There are also internal job postings, which are sent by e-mail from each division once a month - again, so that the workforce remains challenged and stays with the business.

Particularly beneficial to me has been Lehman's mentoring programme, which teams up junior people like me with a senior person. You can approach them about problems you don't want to talk to your line manager about.

I've also been impressed by Lehman's commitment to hanging onto female talent. If you're a woman in investment banking, it can be hard to have a family and stay in the industry because of the long hours. But Lehman have been trying to come up with initiatives for retaining mothers - for example through job-sharing. Meanwhile, one woman I work with had twin girls last year and she gets to leave at 5pm on the dot every day.

There is a very low turnover, and I'm not surprised. You really feel that the company cares about your wellbeing and that you're not just another body among hundreds of others.

Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
News
(David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Sales Executive

£18 - 24k OTE + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Executive ...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant - IT Channel - Graduate

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a Value-Added I...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor