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Industry trends

Financial professionals: How are you doing?

We surveyed over 350 professionals across the industry about their careers, their work satisfaction and the trends that have most affected them.

At Thomson Reuters we know the opening chapters of the 21st century have been an interesting and challenging time to work in the financial industry. Over August and September 2015, we partnered with Greenwich Associates to survey 358 professionals currently working in the industry. Participants spanned sales, trading, research, banking, portfolio/investment management, technology/operations and compliance roles and are forging their careers across the Americas, UK/Europe and Asia.

Finance careers: Work satisfaction and trends

Infographic illustrates financial professionals' career satisfaction
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Finance career mobility

Half of our respondents have worked for three or more firms over the course of their careers. Career mobility varied by role. Sales and banking professionals reported having worked at an average of 3.22 and 3.11 firms respectively, compared with peers in trading at an average 2.43 firms over their careers.

The reasons for changing firms varied, too. It is not surprising given the significant upheaval to the industry during the financial crisis that one-quarter said that a change in firms had been triggered by merger or acquisition by another firm/organization and one in five reported it was the result of their firm closing or downsizing.

More significant, however, is that two-thirds of the respondents indicated a high degree of autonomy and empowerment in their career paths, reporting that moves to other firms had been driven by personal goals and new opportunities.

“At one time, it was not unusual for a banker to pass his entire career within the confines of a single financial institution.” – Jonathan A. Knee, The Accidental Investment Banker

External factors seen as largely positive

We asked financial professionals to rate the importance/impact of external factors on their work and careers, from extremely positive impact (5) to extremely negative impact (1). Technology topped the list with an average rating of 3.92, followed by competition at 3.44 and globalization at 3.39. Interestingly, no external factors (including regulation at 3.25 and profit pressure/resourcing 3.30) earned negative average scores on their impact to professionals’ work, perhaps indicating that these are simply realities to which they have adapted over their careers.

Work and technology

There is no doubt that whether one has worked in the industry less than 10 years (48% of our respondents) or more than 20 (23% of our respondents), advancing technology has driven many changes in when, where and how they work.

Seventy-one percent say it has made them more effective and efficient; 44% report it has provided them with greater freedom to work when and where they need to and 24% say it has resulted in work becoming 24/7.

When asked what proportion of their time they work on various technologies, they report that 70% of their work time is in the office/on terminal/desktop; 15% is remote/laptop and 13% is mobile on laptop/tablet or device.

Where financial professionals get their news and information

There is no doubt that 21st century financial professionals are a digital tribe when it comes to consumption of news and information, but it varies by professional role. Respondents reported they get 40% of their work-related news and information via digital sources (compared with just 16% from print sources and 11% from broadcast sources).

Research professionals reported the highest amount of news and information sourced via digital (58%), followed by compliance professionals (56%), compared with just 34% for bankers and 35% for trading professionals. Sales and banking professionals reported higher sourcing of news and information through professional networks (23% and 24%, respectively).

Change is happening inside their organizations, too

We also asked our respondents about changes within their own organizations that are having impact on their workforce.

  • Sixty-two percent agree or strongly agree that they are doing more work with fewer people.
  • Fifty-seven percent agree or strongly agree that their organizations have become more diverse.
  • Fifty-three percent report that the next generation of younger colleagues are having impact and bringing new and different skill sets.
  • Forty-eight percent agree or strongly agree that their firms have become more global/dispersed across more locations.

So, how satisfied are financial professionals?

Overall, our respondents rated their own career/work satisfaction at an average 7.27 (scale of 1 = extremely dissatisfied to 10 = extremely satisfied). By role, sales professionals reported the highest levels of satisfaction at 7.90, followed by portfolio/investment management professionals at 7.83. Least satisfied were traders at 6.55 and compliance professionals at 6.57.

We also asked how they feel about the industry/profession

  • Sixty-two percent agreed or strongly agreed they are “proud to work in the financial sector/their firm and would choose this career again.”
  • Fifty-three percent agreed or strongly agreed they would “recommend their profession/the industry/ their firm to a young professional today.”
  • Forty-two percent agreed or strongly agreed “erosion of the reputation/trust in the industry has made my job harder and/or less satisfying.”
  • Thirty-eight percent agreed or strongly agreed “evolution of/changes in the industry” are “changing the profession and opportunities, making my experience and skills less valuable.”

The bottom line? When asked whether given the opportunity today to change industries or professions, 40% said they would pursue a different career.

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