Download our study to explore the findings of Branding for Talent: Financial Services.

In the war for talent, brand is often the decisive factor for attracting the best and the brightest. We are often asked by our Financial Services clients about how can they combat the stigma of still being known as a boy’s club while winning the best and most diverse talent? Research shows the industry is more advanced than other sectors for its commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as age equality in senior roles. However, these strides have failed to influence some external perceptions.

We conducted a bespoke survey with 1,275 students and graduates aged 20 to 25 across North America and Europe, with the goal of better understanding their perceptions of different industries and the drivers and barriers in applying for positions in Financial Services. We discovered there is a subgroup of young people more predisposed to know and prefer Financial Services roles, and then there are groups more likely to reject them outright.

Key findings include:

  • Only 13 percent of top talent—a segment defined as being highly qualified and driven by fulfillment, stability and/or growth—would consider applying for a job in Financial Services. The industry ranks behind Technology (19 percent), Management Consultancy (15 percent) and Fintech (14 percent).
  • Respondents see Financial Services as “traditional, conservative, and greedy.” Employees are perceived as “lazy and less intelligent.” The work is regarded as not rewarding, and companies are seen as being only interested in making money.
  • Only one-third of 20 to 25-year-olds have a very clear understanding of what a role working in Financial Services entails. This percentage increases among males from privileged backgrounds, and decreases among working-class females.
  • In the U.S., only three Financial Services brands were known to 45 percent or more of respondents: Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.

The halcyon days of pre-financial crisis banking have left a hangover. Emerging talent has internalized outdated stereotypes of bankers, and the rest of the industry has been tarnished by association. This raises the question—will the Financial Services sector continue to follow a path of least resistance, or will it actively defy the self-selection bias and identify and target a subsegment of youth better oriented to the future of the industry?

In short, to break the cycle and achieve genuine diversity and inclusion, Financial Services organizations need to follow three steps:

  1. Utilize simplicity to make it easier for potential young applicants to understand financial services roles, obtain information about the culture and employee benefits, and clarify expectations for the position.
  2. Help young people understand how their contribution will matter; articulate an inspiring, higher purpose and show how this brings meaning and motivation to the role.
  3. Build communities of advocates, transcending departments and silos, to help young people find common meaning and to create a shared sense of purpose. This strategy achieves genuine inclusion but also celebrates existing diversity.

To learn more about our study, listen to the latest episode of our Simplicity Talks podcast.