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Job Security More Important Than Salary For MBAs Going Into Finance

Training the Street’s new survey shows deep pessimism about job prospects for MBAs in 2020. TTS photo

Even the Street is worried. In a new survey on Wall Street job prospects, current MBA students at the top business schools are gloomy about their prospects compared with a year ago — and as a result, they now put a much higher priority on job security over salary and other considerations.

The Covid-19 pandemic, and the resulting economic downturn, have had a dramatic effect on how MBA students view their job prospects, and caused them to prioritize job security,” says Scott Rostan, founder and CEO of Training The Street, a corporate training provider for Wall Street firms and top-tier B-schools, which conducted the survey.

Yet despite the prevailing negativity, the vast majority of surveyed students — more than 80% — expect to make over $100,000 this year. Many expect to make more than $125,000.

“MBAs should be heartened that annual salaries remain strong and Wall Street remains committed to recruiting and investing in talent and training,” Rostan says.

57% ARE ‘VERY’ OR ‘SOMEWHAT’ PESSIMISTIC ABOUT JOB PROSPECTS, UP FROM 12.3% IN 2019

Scott Rostan. TTS photo

TTS’s 12th annual MBA Employment Survey was conducted via SurveyMonkey between April 22 and May 19, with all 386 respondents students currently enrolled in B-school and pursuing an MBA. They reported feeling far more pessimistic about job prospects than they were a year ago, reflecting the sharp downturn in the economy following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic: Over half (57%) of responding students said they feel either “very pessimistic” or “somewhat pessimistic” about their employment opportunities compared to a year ago, in stark contrast to 2019, when only 12.3% of respondents felt “very” or “somewhat” pessimistic about their job prospects.

In another sign of the sober business outlook, the survey found that job security is a key priority for students entering the job market, with 56.4% of students agreeing that the changed economic environment has either “very much” or “somewhat” led them to prioritize job security over salary or other considerations. Only 20.1% said the economic crisis had no effect on emphasizing job security over other considerations.

The results did show some positive takeaways: 58.3% of respondents with an internship or full-time offer expect to make an annualized salary of over $125,000, and 80.7% of MBA students expect to make at least $100,000 this year. Despite the current economic uncertainty resulting from Covid-19, most MBA students are well-positioned to earn a substantial salary. Additionally, only 21.2% of MBA students said they had not received a job or internship offer yet.

Training The Street’s survey is a snapshot of how the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown of the global economy is affecting finance MBAs, traditionally one of the safest populations in times of turmoil (though certainly one with its own bloodcurdling stories to tell). The survey partly corroborates and partly augments the picture painted by Poets&Quants‘ recent reporting, including stories on new MBA candidate survey data from the Graduate Management Admission Council; data from business schools themselves as reported to the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance; and our own exclusive survey of P&Q readers.

‘A UNIQUE SET OF CHALLENGES’

In TTS’s survey, while job security is top of mind, those pursuing an MBA are also focused on long-term career goals. In evaluating the most important factors when selecting an employer, 69.8% of respondents cited career growth opportunities as their top priority; second-highest in consideration was institutional reputation/strength of mentorship program at 56.7%, followed by salary at 52.8%. In deciding on potential employers, culture/diversity of workforce came in fourth after growth opportunities, reputation, and salary, with nearly half (49.6%) of current students listing it as a priority.

More than 1 in 5 MBA students — 20.1% — stated that the ability to pay back student debt does not impact the kind of job they plan to accept. Another 18% said the ability to pay back student loans “very much” affects their future employment choices.

“There’s no doubt that the current crop of MBA students face a unique set of challenges — some of them unprecedented,” Rostan says. “But, in contrast to the 2008 financial crisis, Wall Street today is much better capitalized and well-positioned to continue to hire and offer MBAs robust opportunities to build successful careers.”

DON’T MISS SURVEY: 9 IN 10 B-SCHOOLS HAVE SEEN MBA HIRING FREEZES and B-SCHOOL CANDIDATES’ CONCERN OVER JOB PROSPECTS SKYROCKETS