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JPMorgan aims for cool factor in recruitment battle between tech and banks

Many of today's university grads forgo long hours, stuffy suits and even a bigger pay check for the promise of wearing a t-shirt while using a laptop on a bean bag.

Competition between banks and tech companies to snag top talent is nothing new, but it's in part prompting JPMorgan to step up its recruitment efforts by hosting pop-up cafes at campuses from the U.S. to Hong Kong. The events range from offering free made-to-order smoothies to customized notebooks.

CNBC visited such an event recently at Singapore Management University.

"We can't just be the bank that sets up a booth in a career fair and hope that people come to us," said Supriya Doshi, JPMorgan's head of HR for Singapore. "We have to be proactive."

The event, which had a made-to-order coffee bar, a free popcorn machine and a pop-up photo booth, aimed to look far different from how most imagine the world's largest banks.


JPMorgan hosts a pop-up cafe at Singapore Management University
Uptin Saiidi | CNBC
JPMorgan hosts a pop-up cafe at Singapore Management University

Doshi said the company hoped to attract students who otherwise aren't considering careers in finance.

"We don't just want to hire typical business and finance majors," she said. "This gives us an opportunity to authentically connect."

The move to up the cool factor comes at a time when the percentage of MBA graduates going into financial services is declining. In 2007, 47 percent of MBA graduates from London Business School went into financial services, but in 2013, only 28 percent did.

"More people are going to tech because they feel that finance is a sunset industry," Kenneth Wong Ming Hao, a fourth year at Singapore Management University said while attending JPMorgan's recent event.

"For me, though, I feel like it's not really a sunset industry yet," he added. "I think banks like JPMorgan are moving more into tech and their products are getting more digital, instead of just being a bank."