INSIDER INFO FOR CORPORATES AND INVESTMENT BANKS
As an IT professional for many years working at large Corporate firms and Investment Banks I will share my inside knowledge with you to give you an advantage in this highly competitive job market.
Large Corporate Firms and Investment Banks typically start their budget planning sessions in August/September up until the following March. During that time there are several reviews by Senior Management and this process or declined. The release of actual funding is usually available from April, which is when the hiring of resources will commence.
IR35 Off-Payroll Legislation
With the introduction of the IR35 Off-Payroll legislation for the private sector being rolled out in the UK in April 2020, this will create abundant opportunities for achieving a move to a more lucrative role. Why? This is due to large corporate and finance firms deciding to terminate hundreds of thousands of contractors and contingent workers in order to avoid the risk of hefty fines, and needing new hires to replace them!
Corporate Firms & Investment Bank Recruitment Process
The hiring process for large Corporate firms and Investment Banks normally involves several interviews with the Employment Agency, Line Manager, an SME (subject matter expert) and HR (human resources). However, the process can be different as I have secured jobs with only a couple of interviews (Employment Agency and hiring manager) as a contractor/contingent worker and conversely had five interviews with each one on a different date lasting ten hours in total. On this occasion I had a Skype call with the Senior Management team who were all based in different countries; I was offered the job. Once you receive a job offer you will then need to go through a thorough background check which consists of providing the employer with documents such as your passport, birth certificate etc. and filling in lengthy forms on your educational and employment history. It is very important that you only provide accurate information as the background checks are rigorously validated by external firms that specialise in this line of work. This process can take several weeks.
Negotiating Your Salary Package
When negotiating your salary package it definitely pays to get the best deal up front with a high basic salary.
Promises of generous bonus payments are not guaranteed and are always discretionary.
Your pension contributions are based upon your basic salary and don't include any bonus you may receive.
If the worst happens and you are made redundant ('dinged'), your severance pay does not take into account your bonus.
Applications for borrowing i.e. mortgages do not include bonus payments.
Living The Job
Once you have secured your dream job it is recommended that you stay in a role for no more than two to three years. If you do stay longer you tend to get typecast, which happens all too easily with IT roles. Avoid being like an actor that spends too long on a TV series as you will never get a call from Hollywood for that really big role.
The annual promotion cycle normally starts in Q3. You will typically sit down with your Line Manager during either a formal review meeting or you will have an informal chat. On some occasions your Line Manager will inform you that you have been put forward for promotion or you will have to justify your reason(s) to be nominated.
What is the Promotion Process?
A promotion panel consisting of several Senior Managers will review the nominations with the Line Managers who will be fighting their team's corner due to the limited number of promotions available. Usually, the Line Manager with the strongest personality will secure a promotion for their own team members. So, it definitely pays to work for someone who is well respected and is a forceful character! There are several rounds of review and at each stage some promotion nominees are removed from the process, rather like a knock out competition, until the number of places are filled. Naturally it is very disappointing to be eliminated at the very last stage, which has happened to me. In this case you either move to another role and work for a Line Manager who gets their team promoted or you take your chance again - I did the former and it worked! Proving that in some cases a sideways move can pay dividends.
When are Promotions Announced?
Promotions are announced at the same time as your Annual Bonus in February or March.
What Happens if I am not Promoted?
If you are not promoted you will have to wait another year and go through the Promotion Process again. You should definitely ask your Line Manager the reason why you were not promoted and for a plan to get you promoted the following year. However, it is never 100% guaranteed that you will get promoted - even with a plan - see 'Sideways Move' in previous paragraph.
Most Corporate Firms and Investment Banks run an annual bonus scheme. These are always performance related and usually include all Corporate Functions such as the Front Office/Business, Middle Office and Back Office which is where IT resides as a non-revenue generating cost centre. What should be fairly obvious is that the revenue generating areas of the firm will be allocated a considerably larger bonus bucket. By 'Considerably' I mean bonuses measured in the hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars compared to non-revenue earning Back Office functions that are typically in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Before the Global Financial Crisis of 2007/2008 even Back Office functions could reasonably expect for their bonus to be in the region of 20 to 25% of their base salary - assuming their performance met the required standard. However, since then some firms have either dramatically reduced bonus payments or made them dependent upon several years of the firm's profits. The latter usually applied to more senior staff, such as Directors and Managing Directors.
How is Employee Performance Measured?
Employee performance is measured by goals that are agreed with your Line Manager at the start of the year. There is normally a 6 month, mid-year review to ensure everything is on track and, if not, to agree a remediation plan. Alternatively, the goals may no longer be relevant and new goals may need to be agreed.
When are Bonuses Decided?
Bonuses are mostly decided before the end of Q4 and normally follow a 'Bell Curve' model. Which means that even if you have delivered on all of your goals, your performance may be lacking when compared to other colleagues in your team. Better performing colleagues will get a bigger slice of the Bonus Cake!
How are Bonuses Announced?
Your bonus amount is communicated to you at your annual performance review in February or March. Your Line Manager will run through your annual goals and how you measured against them. You can put forward your case at this point if you believe you performed better than judged, but it will not alter your bonus payment. People tend to keep to themselves on bonus day unless they are feeling particularly unhappy with their bonus allocation. Bonus allocations are never discussed between employees and it is a disciplinary offence if you are found out.
When are Bonuses Paid?
This can vary depending on the firm but most are paid in February or March.
Quitting Your Job
Reasons For Quitting
Reasons for quitting your job could be:
You did not get a promotion you were expecting.
You have been headhunted by another firm.
Your salary is less than your peers.
The work is no longer interesting.
The commute is too time consuming.
The hours are too long and/or inflexible.
You do not get on with a new Line Manager or colleague(s).
You have been demoted.
Preparing To Leave
Before you hand in your resignation you should ensure you either have another job lined up or sufficient funds to tide you over until you start earning again. Obviously if you resign you will not receive severance or redundancy pay.
When leaving a job in Corporate firms and Investment Banks it always pays to leave on a good note. Even if your feel aggrieved, for whatever reason, you should always act professionally as the Corporate and Investment Banking world is much smaller than you imagine. Avoid burning bridges and your valuable network!
Finding a New Job
Dealing with Employment Agencies
Once you have your CV updated the next step is to register your CV on the most popular Job websites for your region, such as Jobserve for the UK, USA and Australia, LinkedIn or Naukri, Monster, Indeed or SimplyHired for India. You should also setup a search bot with your job criteria and it will send you all jobs that match the criteria on a recurring schedule such as immediately, daily or weekly. I recommend at least daily.
How Do I Resign?
Once you have successfully interviewed and secured a new role and received, reviewed and returned the job offer - which has also been confirmed as received by the hiring firm - then you should approach your Line Manager for a chat. You may find that your Line Manager counters the offer to keep you and if your goal is a pay rise, you'll need to decide on staying or leaving. However, if your reason for leaving is not just salary related then it is usually best to leave. You'll also need to agree on a leaving date with your Line Manager. After the meeting you should follow up with a formal email confirming your resignation and leaving date. If you are moving to a competitor then your current employer may want you to leave almost immediately after your resignation meeting. In which case you will be sent home, all access to your current employer will be removed and you will work out your notice on paid leave; also known as 'Gardening Leave'.
Before you leave make time to catch-up with your network, ideally over a coffee, and send out an email to your larger network to include:
How much you enjoyed the work and the people.
Thank everyone for their help and guidance.
Wish everyone the best for their future.
Include personal contact details.