Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Banking still lures bright grads

Banks and bankers have getting bad publicity since the financial crisis. Many bankers have lost jobs. Bonuses are down. One would think that bright young grads would want to steer clear of banks. Apparently not, according to Andrew Hill. management editor of the FT. He writes that in St Gallen in Switzerland, the lure of banking persists:
Many of the young students who run the St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland, where Mr Noonan spoke, still have their sights set on the peaks of high finance. Senior bankers are ready to welcome them. “I think it will still be cool for young people to join banks and financial institutions,” Urs Rohner, chairman of Credit Suisse, declared during the same conference. “I think there’s a lot of potential there.”
And the attraction is not confined to St Gallen:
Careers advisers at another business school specialising in finance told me recently they were in despair at the number of graduates who refused to consider joining industrial companies and retained rosy expectations of what high finance offered. 

Hill would want the new recruits to do their bit to change the culture in banking:
But today’s highly intelligent graduates will only realise their potential and render themselves socially useful if they aim higher than mere monetary reward. Having learnt the banker’s trade, they must refuse to mimic their Praetorian predecessors. 
Sorry to sound cynical but his exhortation is unlikely to make much of a difference. Culture in a company is seldom created by new recruits. It is overwhelmingly the creation of people at the top. The best that new recruits can do is imbibe the culture as speedily as they can; if they attempt to change it, chances are they will be shown the door. As for the people at the top, their behaviour will not change because of moral exhortation or media criticism. It will change when regulators wield the big stick. Regulation and legislation alone can change the culture in banking in any meaningful way. 

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