seal  Purdue News

June 19, 2003

Recent financial services grads rate job satisfaction

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A survey of young graduates in financial services fields shows they are generally satisfied with their jobs, according to Purdue University research published by the U.S. Department of Labor.

"Financial services is a broad field, stretching from banking and investments to commercial real estate and insurance," said Sharon A. DeVaney, an associate professor of consumer sciences and retailing. "It's also a young field, so we wanted to know both how to make the industry better and to benchmark to prepare our undergraduate majors to succeed and be happy."

The study was published at the end of May by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. DeVaney's co-author was graduate student Zhan Chen.

The complete study, available online, tracks Purdue financial services graduates from 1985 through the '90s. The survey was conducted in November and December 2001.

The survey found the factors that contributed to job satisfaction were realization of expectations, company support, attitude about the job, relationship with coworkers and pay. DeVaney said she believes employees' realization of expectations and attitude toward the job can be generalized across the spectrum of careers.

Factors that did not significantly influence job satisfaction were job security, opportunity for promotion, age of the graduate and stress.

The survey found that women are slightly more satisfied with their jobs than their male counterparts (by a statistically significant 5.77 on a scale of 7.0 for women, versus 5.64 for men). DeVaney said this has been reflected in the Purdue students who choose to major in financial services areas – for some time about half of her department's 120 financial services majors have been women.

"Recent generations of women financial services graduates are benefiting from the female business trailblazers in the '60s and '70s," DeVaney said. "Somehow, financial services jobs seem to fit women because of their attention to detail and nurturing skills. Men working in the financial services field aren't as happy as their female counterparts."

Men experienced more stress in their financial services jobs than women by a wide margin – 5.61 on a scale of 7.0 for men, versus 4.87 for women. "But men and women did not differ in their attitudes toward the job, pay, security, relationship with coworkers or realization of expectations," DeVaney said.

The survey received 111 usable replies, a 36 percent response. Two-thirds of the respondents were under 35.

The survey also asked graduates about the skills a financial services curriculum should emphasize. The graduates ranked verbal communication as the most important skill in performing their jobs, followed closely by quantitative and analytical skills.

Financial services graduates said an investment class was the most important course they took in college to prepare them for their jobs. Also deemed important were classes in retirement planning, employee benefits and risk management.

DeVaney said the survey also showed one of the things she and her financial services educators had expected – that students needed to complete an internship both to make themselves marketable and to choose what area of the financial services industry is a good fit for them.

"We started a two-credit, 280-hour internship requirement for our students last summer," DeVaney said. "So the survey justified what we thought we needed to do educationally."

DeVaney said that students, in seeking their internships, learned skills needed to be successful in the financial services field, such as negotiating tasks, hours and pay.

In addition to internships to learn about the field, graduates suggested additional coursework in marketing would be useful.

DeVaney said the survey was an initial, broad study of job satisfaction and that future studies should study other measures of satisfaction.

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077,

Sources: Sharon DeVaney, (765) 494-8300,

Zhan Chen, (765) 496-4959,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Job Satisfaction of Recent Graduates in Financial Services

By Sharon A. DeVaney and Zhan Chen

Job satisfaction plays an important role in individuals' commitment to their work and their performance. A survey of job satisfaction among recent college graduates in financial planning revealed that graduates rated their satisfaction at 5.71 on a scale from 1 (least satisfied) to 7 (most satisfied). The factors that contributed to job satisfaction were realization of expectations, company support, attitude, relationship with coworkers and pay. Female graduates were more satisfied than male graduates. Factors that did not significantly influence job satisfaction were their job security, opportunity for promotion, age of the graduate and stress.

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