Financial services jobs 'boring' and lack social mobility

Two thirds (65%) of people would not consider taking a job in financial services, on the basis that finance is boring, according to research by KPMG, while of those that do a staggering 41% have parents in the same field

The sector also suffers an above average percentage of ‘nepotism’ with low levels of social mobility as four in 10 (41%) of those working in financial services stated that they had parents working in the sector and were following in their family’s footsteps as their parents had similar careers. By contrast, across non-finance employees the figure was only 12%.

This trend was most prevalent among younger people with over half (55%) of 16-24 year olds in financial services having followed in their parents’ footsteps. This was true of just 21% of 16-24 year olds in other sectors.

Howarth said: ‘The fact that people in financial services are more than three times more likely than the national average to have followed in their parent’s career footsteps is staggering.

‘There are a few, understandable reasons why that may be - it’s a growing sector and of course, it fits with the finding that those working in the sector enjoy their roles, whilst those outside looking in, don’t fancy it – but, whatever the reason the consequence is the same; a narrow and narrowing talent pool and not enough social mobility.

‘That is a big challenge for the future of the sector.’

In the poll of over 1,500 individuals, those aged between 25 and 34 working in finance were the happiest employees in the UK, with 90% saying they enjoy their job. Despite this, over half (58%) of this age group working outside the sector said they would not consider financial services for their next career move, either because it sounds boring (41%) or because they have no contacts in the sector (16%).

Tim Howarth, head of FS consulting, KPMG, said: ‘There’s clearly a gap between what the public think, and the realities of working in financial services. That has to be addressed if we are to attract the diverse mix of skills and experiences needed to navigate the changes going on in financial services and society.

‘Technology and customer engagement is a priority for most of my clients right now, so people working in retail, leisure or IT could have a huge amount to offer. But, the sector has an image problem that’s putting off that talent.’

The research found the main reason people pick financial services for a career is salary. When asked their motivation for being in their current role, over a third (31%) of financial services employees said salary, which was followed by ‘it’s interesting’ (16%) and ‘it has good progression opportunities’ (16%).

These motivations are very different with those in other sectors, just 16% of whom listed salary as a key driver. Outside of financial services, the most common reasons for being in a role were ‘it’s interesting’ (29%) and ‘it’s in my local area’ (23%).

Jon Holt, head of financial services KPMG, said: ‘Whilst it seems sad that FS workers are only half as likely to find their jobs interesting as people in other sectors, the fact that people feel they are well rewarded with both salary and career progression is clearly the reason why they are happier than their peers.

‘But, the workforce is changing. We are always told that Millennials and Generation Z are more interested in their social impact than their finances and so our sector has to get more imaginative in the way it attracts and retains staff.

‘As automation takes away some of the more monotonous roles in finance, and boundaries between sectors like technology, retail and financial services disappear, firms have to work harder to appeal to young talent. If financial services can’t attract the brightest talent pipeline, someone else will.’

Pat Sweet

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