The securest banks to join as a graduate in 2009

Sarah Butcher of eFinancialCareers.com on which are the safest bets when looking to begin a career in banking
Investment banking
Where to work

This time last year, it was still fairly obvious where to focus your attention as a student aspiring to work in investment banking: start with the bulge bracket (Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley) and work your way down.

One year on, the world looks very different: Lehman Brothers has gone, Merrill is part of Bank ofAmerica, and Goldman and Morgan Stanley have become bank holding companies and are in the process of reviewing their business models.

In this new landscape, which organisations are the best ones to join in Europe in 2009? Our (highly subjective) opinion is given below. Let us know if you disagree.

  1. Rothschild

Why? As an advisory house with no exposure to structured credit or toxic products, Rothschild hasn't done too badly in the recent past. NM Rothschild, the group's UK investment bank, actually had a fairly promising year in 2008: it managed to turn a pre-tax profit of £28.5m, and earned a record £324.3m from advisory work.

Hiring plans? Rothchild's head of graduate recruitment tells us the bank hires between 25-30 graduates and 25-30 interns each year. That number's likely to remain fairly steady in 2009.

Best business area? Graduates and interns at Rothschild can go into the M&A, equity advisory, or debt advisory divisions. The debt advisory division includes restructuring, which looks likely to be a hot tip for the foreseeable future.

Application deadline: Applications for Rothschild's 2009 summer internship and 2009 graduate programme are now closed. However, the bank accepts applications to its 'long term internship programme' on a rolling basis.

  1. RBC Capital Markets

Why? Like all other banks, RBC Capital Markets hasn't escaped the financial crisis unscathed, but it's come through a lot better than most of its competitors. The bank's fourth quarter results show full year net income in the capital markets division falling only 10% in 2008 to C$1,170 (£684m). Moreover, RBC is building its European cash equities and wealth management divisions.

Hiring plans: RBC hired just nine graduates into its London Capital Markets business in 2008 and expects to hire a roughly similar number in 2009.

Best business area? RBC remains a relatively small player in Europe, but globally its strong points include fixed income, infrastructure, and anything to do with Canada. In Europe, the bank offers graduate positions in everything from capital markets and wealth management to infrastructure and the middle office. It is also looking at putting together an IT training scheme.

Application deadline: Deadlines for most 2009 applications have now passed. However, applications for the IT scheme have be yet to be opened. Watch the bank's careers site for more information.

  1. HSBC Global Banking and Markets

Why? Although HSBC's shares have recently declined on expectations of a rights issue or shareholder dilution from government funding, the bank has also come through the financial crisis relatively unscathed. It helps that HSBC has a strong presence in less affected markets in Asia. HSBC recently committed to keep its global headquarters in London, although it cut 500 London investment banking jobs last September.

Hiring plans: HSBC says 2009 graduate hiring is likely to be roughly in line with 2008, although most of its full time numbers are being made up with interns from the previous year.

Best business area? HSBC's strongest point is its emerging markets business. In Europe, the bank recruits into global banking and markets (sales and trading, capital markets, M&A) as well as private banking and asset management.

Application deadline: In Europe, HSBC is still accepting applications for internships in compliance, operations and private banking.

  1. Standard Chartered, Wholesale Banking

Why? Although its share price has more than halved in the past year, like HSBC, Standard Chartered has benefited from a strong presence in emerging markets in Asia and Africa. The bank has been building up its wholesale banking business with people coming from everywhere from Goldman Sachs to Lehman Brothers and ABN AMRO. Last October, it said it continued to see "strong and broad based income momentum" in its wholesale banking business.

Best business area? As with HSBC, anything related to emerging markets will be a good bet. The bank is particularly strong in areas like trade finance.

Application deadline: Standard Chartered still has wholesale banking vacancies for graduates in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka. Taiwan, Thailand, and elsewhere. There are no openings in London, unfortunately.

  1. Macquarie

Why? Macquarie's share price has fallen 64% over the past 12 months, first half profits were down 40%. The bank is rumoured to have made big cuts to some of its teams in London, but it did at least make a profit for 2008. It was also a net hirer in the first six months of the year and has been building a European equities business.

Hiring plans?: Macquarie declined to comment on requests for information on its European hiring intentions.

Best business area? Macquarie's strong point it its infrastructure and real estate investment business. With governments globally investing in infrastructure, this should remain relatively immune to the downturn. In Europe, Macquarie takes graduates into its real estate business, as well as its securities group (equities), Macquarie capital advisors (M&A) and various other business areas.

This article was provided by eFinancialCareers.co.uk. Read it in its original context here.

If you're a student looking for your first opportunity in the investment banking, asset management or the financial markets, then the eFinancialCareers Student Centre is the perfect place for you to look. Part of the leading global website for jobs and career advice, it has a range of additional services which will help you succeed in securing a place on an internship or graduate training scheme:

  • Numerical Tests - real online practice tests at the same level of difficulty as the ones the banks use in there assessment centres.
  • Student Answers - the place where you can get advice (ASK) or give advice (ANSWER) on kick-starting your career in the financial markets.
  • A- Z of the Financial Crisis - the comprehensive breakdown of the terms behind the global financial crisis.

Students visiting www.efinancialcareers.co.uk/students are among the best informed and best prepared applicants. They're also the most likely to succeed in finding a job in the highly competitive world of finance. We've included one of our articles to give you an inkling of what's on offer.

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