Chicago: the blooming traditional finance hub

August 30, 2022

As the home of America’s most prominent institutions, New York has earnt its status as the world’s financial capital.

Wouldn’t you agree?

After all, by the end of 2008, the city was controlling almost 40% of the world’s finances (Source: Cinco Dias), granting power and influence to Wall Street.

There’s no doubt that this feat has carried the success of our industry in the United States… until now. There’s a storm on the horizon of a once sunny sky.

If recent data is to be trusted, New York is losing traction in traditional finance. This could have interesting implications for our industry. Soon, the city could be at risk of losing its crown - to Chicago of all places.

The Decline of New York’s Traditional Finance Sector

Since 2019, New York’s traditional finance sector has been a little bit rocky. Jobs in the industry have fallen by 3%, despite success in other sectors (Source: Comptroller).

Although the city’s GDP is still standing strong today at $1.5 billion; it only ranks 34th in the nation for economic growth. It seems that New York has reached a stalling point.

Today, research reveals that industry professionals are no longer flocking to Wall Street. This could be because of a variety of reasons, but is most likely because of the:

- elitist hiring atmosphere

- gap in the supply of jobs versus demand

- unreasonable cost of living

What’s more? Job hunting in New York is a famously competitive and tiresome process - something individuals have started to acknowledge and refuse to put up with, thanks to The Great Resignation.

It seems that young graduates are no longer wanting to take a risk of moving to an expensive city with no guarantee of work. A sensible decision. Altogether, they are preferring options such as Chicago - which has recently seen a recent 0.3% rise in financial talent availability (Source: LinkedIn Analytics).

The World’s Traditional Finance Hubs

However, New York and Chicago aren’t the only locations that deserve merit. Traditional finance hotspots have existed for years and they are all over the world. London, Shanghai, Zurich, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong have all had their time in the spotlight, experiencing great success over the years.

Yet, in the near future, they are all restricted by the same challenges:

  1. The threat of decentralised alternatives;
  2. An impending worldwide economic recession;
  3. Difficulty recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Naturally, this has set back their progress and made them more cautious with their business activity. Going forward, experts are anticipating a decline in the traditional finance sector (Source: Worldbank).

That’s what makes Chicago such an interesting case.

Despite the odds being stacked against us, traditional finance has been named a “key driver of Chicago’s growth” throughout 2022 (Source: Chicago Federation). While the rest of the industry prepares itself for devastation… The Windy City is booming.

A traditional finance hub on the rise: Chicago

Chicago is listed as one of the top ten global financial centres, boasting the second largest CBD in the United States. What’s more? Salaries are on the rise, where the latest job offers have ranged between $92,200 and $229,400 (Source: Built in Chicago).

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).

This, combined with an outstanding job market, diverse and inclusive community, as well as a strong knowledge-based culture has created an attractive city to live and work - laying the foundation for its title as a traditional finance hub.

The Secret to Chicago’s Success

At face value, there’s one particular reason as to why Chicago’s finance sector is facing such a positive future when the rest of the industry is facing instability. Why?

Well, in early 2022, Chicago became an established “international hub for innovation”. Since then, this has been capturing the attention of numerous start-ups (mostly in the technology sector).

The majority of these businesses have sought financial services from local banks and investors in order to get their feet off the ground. Then, as they’ve grown… so has the finance market.

“Chicago’s entrepreneurs won't chase user growth by postponing monetisation until later. Here, most companies are cash-driven. The return on venture capital in Chicago is the highest in the country.” - Idea Motive

Our predictions for Chicago’s traditional finance sector

In the coming years, it’s fairly safe to presume that the surge in business activity in Chicago is going to attract thousands of talented individuals to the city, looking for work.

The industry will notice quickly. Professionals already operating in Chicago will be placed in line for a promotion as entry-level positions skyrocket, with firms entering the war for talent.

Still, there’s more.

Inevitably, more start-ups are going to make Chicago their base of operations. Economic growth could lead to innovative discoveries that allow our industry to secure competitiveness in our ever-evolving digital climates.

Finally, after a few years of heavy hits, things are starting to look up for traditional finance.

Takeaways from Chicago’s Rise as a Traditional Finance Hub

Although the traditional finance market is (admittedly) tackling its fair share of threats right now, Chicago’s dominating presence suggests that recovery isn’t out of reach.

Businesses and professionals across the United States should learn from this perseverance. It’s always possible to bounce back.

Instead of being cautious with our spending, organisations should be funnelling money into research and recruitment. Then, before we know it, the industry will be announcing huge advancements in technology.

Traditional Finance Jobs in Chicago

Are you a finance professional in Chicago?

If so, now is the time to secure a flexible and rewarding job role.

The candidate-driven market is balanced on the edge of a precipice, where local traditional finance businesses are hungry to seize the opportunities available to them. This will allow you to negotiate salary rates (and benefits) to create a career without compromise.

Recruiting with Source Control

We are the global experts in the placement services of technical professionals from low-latency and distributed systems engineering backgrounds into traditional and decentralised finance roles.

We place top-tier talent at all skill levels from junior to executive hires on a permanent, contract, contingent or retained basis. If you’ve been looking to advance your company, contact our specialist consultants today.


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