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Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Posts Tagged ‘Finance

Did Goldman Break Its Diversity Policy?

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For the 11th straight year, industry insiders named Goldman Sachs the most prestigious bank in North America in Vault’s latest ranking. In hindsight then, all the public mudslinging of recent years has done little to upset the bank whether it’s in attracting the biggest deals or the best talent. And according to our survey, bankers continue to want Goldman on their resume.

Ironically, a day after the rankings debuted, the bank’s prestige is under attack by three former female employees who charge, according to The Wall Street Journal, that “The investment bank practices a system in which women are paid less, promoted less and ‘systematically circumvented and excluded.'”

Jobs, Careers and Reviews at Goldman SachsWhat’s astounding about the allegation is the repeated emphasis on intent, i.e., that the bank has a system that almost formulaically excludes women from getting promoted and compensated on par with their male counterparts. While the bank has called the suit without merit, stating that, “People are critical to our business, and we make extraordinary efforts to recruit, develop and retain outstanding women professionals,” it seems it is yet again in the red with the public.

Comments from our Banking 50 survey—culled from responses submitted by over 1,300 banking professionals earlier this year—provide further perspective:

“Supportive and respectful management”

“They could do a better job of promotion as well as placement into areas that are a good fit and utilize skill sets…”

“Having come up through the ranks, from a junior trader to now an experienced one in fixed income products, I must say that I’ve been very pleased with the level of training, support and guidance that I’ve received over the years from the firm…”

“I’m a firm believer in the culture at Goldman Sachs. The firm is team-focused, emphasizing integrity and personal development within the industry.”

“I think we do a good job at getting women and diversity candidates in the door, but for real success we need to work on better retention.”

And, finally a snippet of their Diversity Mission Statement from Vault’s Annual Diversity Survey:

“The firm’s commitment to diversity is evident at the most senior levels and is driven down through the firm by way of our seventh business principle: “We offer our people the opportunity to move ahead more rapidly than is possible at most other places. Advancement depends on merit and we have yet to find the limits to the responsibility our best people are able to assume. For us to be successful, our men and women must reflect the diversity of the communities and cultures in which we operate. That means we must attract, retain and motivate people from many backgrounds and perspectives. Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be.”

So where does this leave the banking king: A chauvinistic boys club, truly diverse with a few unintentional victims, or the victim of a ploy to take advantage of its current poor reputation? Weigh in by leaving a comment, emailing In Good Company or connecting on Twitter @VaultCSR.

More reading: The complete WSJ report.

What other banks made the Top 10 most prestigious banks in North America this year?

Should You Bring ‘This’ Up During a Job Interview?

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In 2007, when the financial industry was at the brink of collapse, one executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) saw opportunity. Shannon Schuyler, then a member of PwC’s recruitment team, wrote a white paper for company leadership emphasizing that the firm needed someone to reorganize and refine their community initiatives, and give their corporate responsibility a face.

Three months later the job was hers. How did she re-strategize the firm’s hiring policies and recruitment outreach to encompass PwC’s commitment to corporate responsibility?

  1. For one, having a background in experienced hiring and on campus recruitment helped. She has seen first-hand the gradual evolution of the hiring landscape, where candidate priorities shifted from the best-paid job offer to work/life balance, and today, to a company’s commitment to responsible corporate citizenship. Her experience assured peers that directives coming from the new Corporate Responsibility Leader would be balanced and realistic.
  2. Secondly, the message from campuses was loud and clear. According to Schuyler, candidates are increasingly asking what the firm is doing to give back to the community, who they donate to, what they do toward the environment, etc. “They want to know how they can get engaged when they start. They want to know what our strategies are,” she said.
  3. Finally, she noted, markedly changing business strategies and decision making processes can be a double-edged sword. As her team continues to work on ensuring that new hires are aware and receptive of the company’s commitment from day one, she is also responsible for inculcating a deeper cultural change among current employees. And that is where her real battle lies.

Her observations mirror findings of Vault’s recently concluded Job Hunting in CSR series, where four MBA candidates discussed business school, their career transitions and job hunting, all connected with a commitment to CSR and change management.

For now, Schuyler is focusing on the “life cycle of a student.” Her team is busy redefining the firm’s hiring strategy by shifting their focus from best practices to candidates’ personal journey. “Increasingly, we ask, what are the opportunities? What could we continue to build on as a continuum? Would that really change what their education experience is, and ultimately, their success? It’s not just how you do the equations, but how you’re taking that and making it part of their life.”

–Posted by Aman Singh, Vault’s CSR Editor

Chart: Finance Industry Salaries vs the Private Sector

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A little more perspective on the financial reform issue. And a question: is it more surprising that the average salary for people in finance is around double that of people in the private sector as a whole, or that private sector salaries have only doubled in the last 60 years, while those in the finance sector did the same in just the last 20 years?

The chart appears here, and I came to it via The Huffington Post.

Written by Phil Stott

April 23, 2010 at 7:15 am

Top 10 Banking Employers in the World’s Top Growth Market

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Asia Pacific Banking Guide

Click the image to view this guide in the Vault store

“The key thing about Asia is it’s the one market where you’re going to see growth”–Andrew Sullivan, a sales trader at Mainfirst Securities Hong Kong Ltd, quoted in Businessweek last month.

While the quote above could have described the Asia-Pacific banking world at any point since the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage industry, it’s especially true today. While banks and financial houses of all stripes are still struggling with the post-meltdown landscape in the US and Europe—and likely to face a raft of new legislation in both spheres in the coming weeks and months—the industry in the Asia- Pacific region is booming. For evidence, witness behemoth Bank of America’s recent hiring push in the region, together with the fact that Goldman Sachs recently experienced what it feels like to be on the losing end of a transaction—the luring of a key Asia-Pacific executive to BTIG being the occasion that prompted the quote at the top of this piece.

Not that it’s worth fretting over Goldman’s future in the region: just like everywhere else in the world, the company is sitting pretty atop Vault’s 2010 ranking of Asia Pacific banking employers. And, while it may have lost a key exec to a smaller rival, the very fact that that exec was willing to jump for the opportunity to build BTIG into a bigger player in the region suggests that there are some very bright days ahead for banking in the region.

As Vault’s top 10 list of banking employers within the region shows, it’s an area still dominated by major players from the US—five of the top 10 are US firms:

1. The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
2. J. P. Morgan Investment Bank
3. Morgan Stanley
4. Deutsche Bank AG
5. The Blackstone Group
6. HSBC Holdings Plc
7. Credit Suisse Group AG
8. UBS Investment Bank
9. Citi Institutional Clients Group
10. Barclays Capital

However, “local” players such as Nomura and MacQuarie make appearances just outside the top 10, and suggest that there is much more to come from this region in the coming years.

Get the full scoop on the top banking employers in the Asia-Pacific region–plus our full top 25– in the Vault Guide to the Top Banking Employers, Asia Pacific Edition.

Written by Phil Stott

April 5, 2010 at 11:04 am

Health Care Bill: Vault’s experts discuss its career and education impact

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How’s the new health care bill going to affect the job market and your career? Vault’s career, education, and industry experts weigh in on what the modern student and professional should keep in mind.

Phil Stott, Producer, web content
Aman Singh, CSR Editor
Carolyn Wise, Senior Education Editor
Naomi Newman, Global Consulting Editor
Margaret Davidson, Manager of Editorial Research
Derek Loosvelt, Global Finance Editor
Linda Petock, Senior Producer, web content

Linda: Welcome to Vault’s first “In the News” roundtable discussion. I thought we’d start this series off with what everyone’s been talking about all week–the historic health care bill.

Phil: I think one of the biggest changes afoot in the bill is the end of people feeling like they’re tied to their jobs because of healthcare. Having grown up in a country with socialized healthcare, I’ve seen first-hand both sides of the coin, and it’s always struck me as somewhat strange that the quality of one’s healthcare should depend on the lottery of where you manage to land a job.

Of course, that isn’t going to end completely—employers will still be able to compete on healthcare plans—but my feeling is that having a “safety net”, as the President put it, will encourage more mobility in the job market. That, to my mind, means we’re going to see employers having to work harder to maintain loyalty among employees. It also means we’re likely to see more people taking chances in their careers, and a potential rise in entrepreneurial activity. Whether it also means—as I’ve seen some commentary in the blogosphere suggest—that some will just drop out of working altogether is another question.

Aman: The health care bill is meant to make it easier for everyone to have coverage, regardless of choice of job/industry. For those few who have the entrepreneurial streak but are buried under loan debt or simply cannot risk it because of family responsibilities or other reasons, this is another win for their freedom of choice. In terms of corporate social responsibility, a once-risky career choice will become more tempting and dare I say, common. This bill means people who want to make a difference and cannot with their current employers can now take the risk of actually thinking outside the box (or the system, in this case) without giving up basic rights like medical coverage.

The field of CSR as a career choice is so nascent right now that this bill serves as more encouragement. From my conversations with students and professionals, there are many individuals out there you would like to graduate with an MBA in Sustainable Business and professionals who are getting certified and trained for CSR work, but are not able to step out of the system and practice. This bill, for them, will make the road ahead easier, whether that means self-employment or working with small businesses to lead change in the marketplace. One step and one company at a time.

Carolyn: Speaking of students, the new health care reform bill is good news for current college students too. Most colleges offer health care plans for current students while they’re on campus, which include treatment in the campus infirmary if you’ve caught pink eye or strep throat, as well as physical health and well-being doctors and counselors. But once they graduate (and, sometimes, during the summer), many young adults find themselves uninsured due to unemployment or under-employment. Many internship programs, for example, do not offer health benefits under the employer’s plan; and entry-level salaries are sometimes so low that opting into an employer’s health care plan means significantly lowering one’s quality of life. I myself was an intern after graduation and found myself (briefly) uninsured.

Everyone talks about how the new health care reform bill will give U.S. citizens the “flexibility of choice,” and for students and recent grads that couldn’t be more true. Under the new health care reform bill, recent graduates will be eligible to remain a “dependent” under their parents’ insurance plan until they’re 26. This extended coverage will take some of the stress off of finding one’s bearing in the professional sphere, and allow recent grads to take jobs that offer more long-term benefits (e.g., job opportunities, networking, etc.), rather than ones that pay best and offer the most comprehensive benefits plan but may not be on the desired career path.

This increased job flexibility at graduation will also enable students to consider more diverse options when they leave campus—travelling, perhaps, or simply taking time for themselves to help transition from student to professional. Postgraduate internships will also certainly continue their upward trajectory. Last year, 55 percent of career centers at colleges and universities across the country told Vault that they’ve seen an increase in the number of seniors choosing internships over full-time employment after graduation. With the safety net of continued health care coverage, these grads will be able to pursue the internships and opportunities best suited to launch their careers.

Naomi: In the short term, I think the primary impact of the health care bill will be on HR consulting firms, who will be busy at work helping their clients understand the full implications of the new legislation on their health benefits packages. They will need to reconsider their offerings and make sure they are complying with all new requirements. And since the plan is so far-reaching, this will keep HR consultants busy for at least the next few years.

Linda: Do you think then that the field of HR consulting will grow? Does that mean more hirings in the consulting field overall?

Margaret: I don’t know about HR consulting, but it could potentially lead to an increase in hiring at firms that have a large public sector presence – or at least a shift in terms of where the opportunities can be found. Any time legislation dictates an expansion of some sector of the government, government consulting firms adjust their business development strategies to go where the money is. Similar to the way these companies focused on pitching to defense agencies when we got involved in Iraq and Afghanistan, I suspect that they will target agencies that are impacted by this bill. Thus, I predict that there will be a greater number of opportunities to consult civil agencies.

Naomi: Also look for health care and strategy consulting firms to get in on the action. They will look at all angles of the issue, from helping insurers and pharmaceutical companies to cut costs, to finding better ways of providing care to a much larger market, and improving long- and short-term outcomes. As more of the risk now shifts to consumers, finding innovative solutions for health care plan delivery and incentives will be of critical importance, especially as large employers do their utmost to reign in costs. More technically, pharmaceutical companies are now undertaking comparative effectiveness research to develop evidence of their products compared to others. Health care consultants are likely to weigh in on this process, as well.

Most see such possible solutions as taking three or four years to be conceived and put into effect, which means that the job market for consultants is sure to grow over the next few years. And due to stagnation in the market over 2008-2009, consulting firms are now really starting to bolster their numbers.

Derek: I think the largest effect on the financial industry, from a careers perspective, will be an indirect one. With most of the difficult work involved in reforming the U.S. health care system behind them, Democrats can now focus on financial regulatory reform, which slid to the back burner but is now shaping up to be the major rallying point come mid-term elections this fall. Coincidentally, Election Day occurs during the height of top banking employers’ recruiting season. This means that some of these employers (those who’ve been and will continue to receive boatloads of hate mail and bad press) will likely be spending serious amounts of time, energy and money attempting to dispel rumors and artificially sweeten the not-so-sweet past when they descend upon undergraduate and MBA institutions after Labor Day.

And while banks’ PR outfits and insiders work overtime, would-be finance employees from some of the top schools across the country (aka candidates for some of the highest-paying entry-level jobs in the land) will be faced with some difficult questions, including this one: Should I go into banking at all? With public perception of the banking industry at a low, if not all-time low, and the heat about to be turned up on banks for their recent indiscretions, it’s likely that this year choices between, say, Goldman and McKinsey, Morgan Stanley and BCG, and J.P. Morgan and Bain might be easier and come out differently than they had been in the past.

Linda:  Thanks everyone!  As Derek mentioned, the financial regulatory reform is coming up and we’ll cover that in a future “In the News” discussion.  Please feel free to continue the debate and leave your comments below.

Previous coverage: Four Hiring Boosts from the Health Care Bill

Written by Linda Petock

March 26, 2010 at 3:16 pm

MBADiversity’s Hiring Event Hits New York This Weekend

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Event Alert! MBADiversity, a global MBA prep program is hosting its New York City Forum this weekend. What’s on offer? Chance at meeting one-on-one with recruiters at the recruiter fair, hearing first person accounts from alumni and a financial aid and scholarship workshop.

If you’re not in the New York area, don’t worry because Vault’s Education Editor Carolyn Wise will be on site to talk to attending recruiters, alumni and students and bring you insider info! So stay tuned for her updates and key thoughts from the event. For those of you who’d like to attend, the details are below:

What: The MBADiversity 2010 NY City Forum

When: Saturday, March 27, 2010; 12:00-5:00p.m.

Where: Grand Hyatt, 109 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017

Registration Info: Free, if you’d like to attend the networking lunch, it is $19.95.

Agenda: Introductions/Networking Luncheon, an information session about the graduate school application process featuring an Admissions Panel and an Alumni Panel; an information session about the MBADiversity Fellows Program and Global Immersion Module (GIM) Program; a Financial Aid and Scholarships Workshop; and finally the Recruiter Fair.

For information on which recruiters will be there and other FAQs, visit the MBADiversity blog. For our perspective on the event as well as insider quotes, stay tuned next week on Admit One as well as @VaultMBA!

And remember, the keys to a successful graduate school application as well as a job are few, yet essential: Pitch yourself, Add brand value to your experience and wow them! And of course, network, network, network!

Will Public Perception of Wall Street Alter Candidates’ Career Choices?

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Goldman Sachs
With most of the difficult work involved in reforming the U.S. health care system behind them, Democrats can now focus on Big Issue #2: financial regulatory reform.

Reform of the financial/banking system had been slid to the back burner but is now shaping up to be a, if not the major rallying point come mid-term elections this fall—which coincides with the sweet spot of big investment banks’ campus recruiting season. This means that some of these firms will likely be spending serious amounts of time, energy and money to attempt to dispel rumors and set records straight and artificially sweeten the not-so-sweet past when they descend upon undergraduate and MBA institutions after Labor Day.

Currently, as shown in a recent Bloomberg poll, the American people are none too happy with the big Wall Street firms, with 57 percent looking “unfavorably” or “very unfavorably” at the country’s largest financial institutions and about 66 percent looking unfavorably at the executives who run said firms. (It was also shown that two-thirds of Americans have an unsavory view of Congress.)

While banks’ PR outfits and insiders work overtime this fall, would-be investment bankers from some of the top schools across the country (aka candidates for some of the highest-paying entry-level jobs in the land) will be faced with some difficult questions, including this one: Should I go into banking at all?

With public perception of the banking industry at a low, if not all-time low, it’s likely that this year decisions like Goldman or McKinsey, Morgan Stanley or BCG, and J.P. Morgan or Bain will be a whole lot easier than they had been in the past.

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In the Black

Written by Phil Stott

March 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm

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