The banking industry’s reputation is damaging its ability to recruit graduates, the boss of a major UK bank has said.

The banking sector must “urgently” address young people’s perception of the industry, according to António Horta-Osório, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group. In a speech at Oxford University’s Saïd business school, Horta-Osório discussed how the reputational impact of the financial crisis is having a negative impact upon the banking industry’s ability to recruit young people.

His comments coincided with new research which reveals a “potential talent drain” as banking’s negative reputation impacts recruitment.

The survey revealed more than one quarter of students (28%) surveyed would be too embarrassed to tell friends if they were going to work in a bank. The survey also found 41% of students distrust banks and financial services providers and 56% trust banks less than they did five years ago. It also showed 58% of students think that an organisation’s reputation will influence their career decision. Horta-Osório said:

“We need to take steps as a sector towards rebuilding our reputation through how we behave and what we do. In tandem with this we urgently need to address the perception of banking as an attractive career opportunity for young people.

“The next generation should see banking as an industry that helps to build economic wealth and is playing its part as a useful member of our local communities. We want the best and the brightest to see banking as a credible career choice. This is vital for the industry’s long-term viability.”

Talking about the financial crisis, Horta-Osório said there was “no question” many banks “lost sight” of what was important and their core values became “diluted”. He explained:

“Banks became complacent, inefficient and crucially they stopped caring about their customers. Several banks became complacent about risk. They developed unsustainable business models. They invented ever more complex financial products which their customers didn’t understand or need, and they incentivised their employees to sell those products in volume.

“We’re starting to witness a self-renewing, re-energised banking industry, which is once again taking its place at the heart of the economy. Helping to develop and sustain a virtuous circle of growth, job creation and wealth generation.”

Graduate Fog is interested to learn that graduates are turning away from banking, which has for years been one of the most popular (and lucrative) career paths for bright young people looking to get their careers started. It will be interesting to see how the industry responds to the challenge of repairing its reputation so that the sector once more becomes an attractive career path for graduates.


Has the damage done to the industry’s reputation affected your enthusiasm for working in banking? What should the industry do to repair its reputation among job-seeking graduates? And Can jobless graduates afford to have principles? Or should they take any job they can get?

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