Standard Chartered scraps academic bar in bid to attract diverse apprentice pool

Standard Chartered is offering a route into a front-line investment banking job for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds by scrapping the need for academic qualifications for a select group of students.

The UK lender has launched an apprenticeship for six school-leavers into a front office investment banking role, which assesses candidates based on their potential rather than setting a high academic bar.

There will be no requirement to have any level of exams, for example GCSEs, A Levels or undergraduate degree level study, which are often a requirement of internships.

Investment banks are under increasing pressure to increase social mobility in their City workforces, with the vast majority of new recruits every year still coming from a select band of elite universities, which often favour privately educated students.

The Financial Markets apprenticeship at Standard Chartered will combine on the job learning across sales, trading, financing and capital markets roles at the bank, with academic training over the course of a three-year programme. If successful, candidates will be offered a full-time role in Standard Chartered’s markets unit.

Entry-level roles in investment banking are notoriously competitive, with a handful of top firms attracting 300,000 applications for around 6,000 internships and full-time roles last year.

A Financial News investigation found that  working-class graduates from the UK were still largely locked out of investment banking jobs, despite many specific programmes in place to try and bolster the number of recruits from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Working class graduates were found to lack the ‘polish’ required for many front office roles.

READ Why working class graduates cannot break into banking

However, some banks have worked to change this through offering new apprenticeships, a UK government scheme more associated with blue collar roles like plumbing or car mechanics than sharp-suited investment bankers.

Entry level investment banking roles in the UK pay around £85,000 including bonus, according to recruiters Dartmouth Partners, and salaries have been ticking up amid a burnout crisis in the industry.

READ What it’s really like making partner at Goldman Sachs

Last year, JPMorgan offered a route into a high-paying investment banking job for a select group of school-leavers through its new apprenticeship. The four-year programme gives students a chance to ‘earn as they learn’ as well as complete a finance degree at the University of Exeter.

Successful applicants will be given a chance to land a role in mergers and acquisitions, debt capital markets or equity capital markets. UBS also offers a similar scheme.

“The introduction and approach of our Financial Markets apprenticeship scheme has proven there is high-potential talent out there amongst individuals who would normally not have access to such opportunities,” said Henrik Raber, global head of credit markets at Standard Chartered. 

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To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Paul Clarke

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