Millennials in Finance: Debunking the stereotype

Move over baby boomers. Over the past few years, conversations around the economy, the labor market, and the workplace now seem to have one major theme in common—millennials.

Move over baby boomers. Over the past few years, conversations around the economy, the labor market, and the workplace now seem to have one major theme in common—millennials. As those born between 1980 and the early 2000s hit adulthood, questions on their societal impact have taken center stage. From the good, to the bad, to the ugly, millennials have contrastingly been painted as the saviors of our economy to the downfall of our workplace. At this point, the overall impact of the millennial generation could be anyone’s guess. But how are millennials affecting the finance industry?

Finance professionals have always been considered a separate breed. It’s nearly impossible to find another industry with comparative work hours and resulting compensation rates. And whether you consider those positive or negative attributes, it’s been even more difficult in the past five years to attract young professionals to such a vigorous work environment. In order to recruit the right young talent for your firm, it’s crucial to understand what’s true, and what’s false, about the millennial stereotype.

In the most basic terms, millennials are assumed to want it all: work-life balance, higher compensation rates, and a sense of working for a higher purpose. A recent article in Forbes portrays millennials as the generation that not only wants it all, but “wants it fast”. This mentality has certainly impacted recruiting trends and how companies attract top talent, especially in finance. Most entry-to-junior level finance jobs don’t particularly emphasize work-life balance or working for a higher purpose, which is why it’s more important than ever to sell the parts of your company that will attract the RIGHT millennial candidates, not just the smart ones.

A study conducted by PWC reports that the top traits that make an attractive employer are the opportunity for career advancement, competitive wages, and an excellent training/development program. So far, raising entry-level salaries has been a common action on Wall Street to attract the best talent and last August, Goldman Sachs announced a pay raise for junior bankers of about 20%, with some firms even offering up to a 25% increase. Although the tactic did reasonably well, it’s clearly important to also focus on the opportunities for advancement within the company. One thing that rings true with the millennial generation is that they are ambitious and want success fast. The factor everyone seems to forget? They’re still willing to work for it. These tactics do reasonably well, but the battle for getting young workers to Wall Street is still ongoing.

The company culture at Google might seem impossible to compete with, especially when their products are thought to be driving the future and changing lives. However, the important thing to know about millennials is that the sense of working for a purpose doesn’t necessarily have to mean a higher one. The millennial emphasis on using work to make a difference stems from wanting to see the results. Justifying long work hours without recognition can be difficult for anyone to understand. Instead, they want to know that their work is valued, that it means something for the company, not necessarily the world. If you want to attract the right talent, don’t force an analyst role to sound like it’s responsible for feeding the poor. Choose to focus on how your firm rewards hard working employees, whether it’s through bonus season or increased benefits.

There’s no doubt that millennials have different values than baby boomers and Gen X in the workplace. Instead of writing off the whole millennial generation as lazy and incompetent, think first about how you can attract the right millennial talent by using the right selling points. If you can give them examples of career advancement and prove that their work will be rewarded, you might be pleasantly surprised at the response you get in return.

These workplace shifts can be hard for an industry that demands long hours and less emphasis on work-life balance, but understanding the nuances of the millennial stereotype is the first step to positioning your firm to find the right young talent. Don’t assume that the hard worker who’s in it for the experience is a diamond in the rough. Assume that as long as you sell your company to the millennial mindset, you’ll find a worker who is as dedicated and driven as any generation before them.

Looking for exceptional millennial talent? Check out OneWire’s recruiting solutions.