Is working in the City a smart HR move?

"P" writes: I hear lots
of stories about HR professionals who move into roles in investment banking on
very large packages, yet many claim that the HR they practice is not very
sophisticated. Is this true and should I consider a move into this area?

Margaret Malpas, joint managing
director of Malpas Flexible Learning writes:

I
think it is unwise to stereotype any employer.  Some
employers deliberately choose to apply best practices in HR whilst others
may take a more pragmatic view.  It’s worth asking around about
reputations in this area and looking at the websites of those you
are thinking of applying to as these can provide a mine of
information.  You can often tell what the Company’s approach is from its
recruitment page.

Salaries
in the City are generally significantly larger than in the provinces, for
example. But bear in mind that organisations are not generally altruistic,
and they expect to get what they pay for! The pace of life and
expectations of employees may be very high and you would need to commute which
could easily add a lot of time to your working day. 

Vic Daniels, director
at Carr Lyons writes:

While it is true that, generally
speaking, investment banks don’t always adopt a policy of best practice HR, it
very much depends on the investment bank itself. Many of these types of
organisation have come a very long way in HR terms during the course of the
last five years and have attempted to move away from administration towards
providing a more business-focused value-added HR service. Having said this,
many still have a long way to go. Moving into HR in investment banking is
different and is not for everyone. You have to have the credibility to stand up
to often high revenue earners, will need to be prepared to make quick decisions
and justify them and work longer hours. The rewards are there financially, but
the job can often be stressful and you may find that you are being paid more to
often deal with what on the surface seem to be fairly mundane tasks. My advice
is that you should meet with as many investment banks as you can and see as
many people in those organisations as possible, both in HR and line managers.
You will then hopefully be able to get a better feel as to where each
organisation sees itself in HR terms and whether a move into it will provide
you with all you need from your next career move.

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