You may see more help wanted ads for positions in financial services this year. But they'll likely be far from the so-called glory days before the financial crisis.
The high-flying bonus-filled jobs aren't extinct—but applicants will be hard-pressed to find them at the trading desks of the big Wall Street banks. Now, the mid to senior-level openings are turning up at hedge funds and asset management and private wealth firms, according to John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
He blames beefed-up government rules that are discouraging risk and growth while encouraging bureaucracy and lower salaries at the iconic banking institutions.
"Because of the regulations, they are adding to audit, risk control and risk management, and on the financial reporting side," Challenger said. "Today, they are so scrutinized and there are so many regulations that they have to adhere to, the financial services need mass staffs to comply with all that."
As that trend takes hold, the industry is also moving away from colossal financial firms to smaller and midsize companies, Challenger added. And, that's also good for jobs growth—something he expects to see more of this spring.
The New York City securities industry gained 9,600 jobs right after the financial crisis before downsizing again in August 2011, according to the Office of the New York State Comptroller. Employment in the industry rose slightly last year in the city, but it still remains 12 percent below the pre-recession levels.
"Much like 2013, profitability and compensation in the securities industry in 2014 will depend on the industry's ability to deal with regulatory changes, costs arising from ongoing litigation and higher interest rates," New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement to CNBC's NetNet.
Glassdoor, a jobs and career site, tracks the outlook for the financial sector. At the end of last year, it found 41 percent of finance workers believe their company's business outlook will get better in the next six months, which is about average for all industries. About a quarter of finance workers believe conditions would worsen. (See table)
"What we interpret is that Wall Street finance employees expect the business hiring situation to get better ever so slightly in 2014, but nothing drastic," said Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor's corporate communications manager. "Anecdotally, what we are hearing from employees is that there seems to be great demand for highly skilled and very specific employees. ... There are some very innovative jobs and senior jobs hitting the market in 2014. The skills they are hiring for are relatively tough to find and they are very hard to fill positions."
It's a situation the Graduate Management Admission Council is closely watching, with another batch of MBA students just months away from pursuing their careers outside the classroom.
Some 60 percent of firms are looking to cut expenses and there's still a pretty big hangover from the financial crisis, according to Michelle Sparkman Renz, director of research communications at GMAC.
"They want workhorses to help them reduce costs and increase efficiency. There is a solid opportunity for those who bring those specialized quantitative skills," Renz said.
The ones best qualified to jump into those roles, said Renz, will be those armed with masters of finance and accounting degrees.
She also believes a great strategy for finance job applicants is to look beyond Wall Street and consider opportunities in places like Silicon Valley—where the demand is strong for investment bankers.
—By CNBC's Stephanie Landsman. Follow her on Twitter @StephLandsman.