From films to finance, New York City gets an inordinate amount of attention when it comes to, well, most things. But here’s the deal: New York is by no means the only city worth moving to and living in. In particular, there are now many more exciting options to develop a world-class financial services career outside of the Big Apple.
Skeptical? Well, have you heard of Chicago? (Trick question, we know you have.)
From world-class museums and restaurants to shopping and cultural attractions, Chicago is a major global city and a finance hub in its own right. The Windy City is home to economic engines like the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade. In fact, financial products prevalent in modern capital markets like futures, derivatives, and options were all invented there. That’s probably why world-renowned business schools such as the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and dozens of international financial institutions choose the city as their home, too.
The largest financial services firm in Chicago is Northern Trust, a global company that serves the world’s most-sophisticated clients—from sovereign wealth funds and the wealthiest families to the most successful hedge funds and corporate brands. Headquartered in Chicago with offices around the world, Northern Trust offers its employees the ability to work for a major brand in finance without having to live in New York. (Though full disclosure: They do have an office in New York and many other US locations.)
We spoke with employees in both their Chicago and Tempe, Arizona, offices to bring you the lowdown on how you can work in finance outside of NYC.
FinTech And Fun Runs in Chicago
Growing up in a nearby suburb, Kristin always felt the pull of Chicago.
So, while studying finance and economics in college, she was thrilled to get an internship with Northern Trust. Signing that offer letter meant she could finally work in the business hub she’d dreamed of, and she wouldn’t even be too far from home.
“I always thought I would end up in Chicago,” she says. “Chicago is a big city, but it’s also small, in a sense, where you can have great connections with the people in your community. Even if it’s just going out to lunch, you might see someone you know.”
When she got hired full-time for Northern Trust’s rotational program in the fall of 2013, Kristin was able to stay in Chicago working at the company’s headquarters. This came with some benefits that a branch office would have lacked, she says. For example, she got to meet with the CFO and was able to work at multiple Chicago offices across different sectors of the business.
Danny, another Northern Trust employee, agrees that his career got a boost by making the move from New York to Chicago. “There are a ton of opportunities to work in financial technology at our office in Chicago,” he says.
But it wasn’t just business that drew Danny to the Windy City. “The food scene in Chicago is absolutely spectacular,” he says. “Chicago’s home to some of the best restaurants in the world and has a diverse selection of cuisines.”
Plus, both he and Kristin said they love being close to Lake Michigan—a lake so “great” that it’s basically an inland oasis, home to harbors, boating, and beaches. Many take advantage of all the Chicago lakefront has to offer including bike paths, team sports, and restaurants. One of the highlights for Kristin, she says, is a yearly charity run by the water in Chicago’s famous Grant Park. This and the many other parks in Chicago are home to festivals and concerts, including Lollapalooza.
Lakes, Mountains, And Project Management In Tempe, Arizona
Palmira is a Project Manager for Northern Trust. Like Kristin, she also grew up in the Midwest, on the South Side of Chicago. She, too, was lucky enough to score a Northern Trust internship that turned into a full-time job when she graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Now she works out of their office in scenic Tempe, Arizona. Surrounded by mountains and just 20 minutes east of Phoenix, it’s the ideal middle ground for those less interested in the nonstop action of big-city life, but who still have the talent and drive for finance. As Palmira explains, there’s a lot to love about Tempe. “The mountains! I love being able to hike on the weekends,” she says.
The weather in Tempe is bright and sunny all year, with only nine inches of rain and, yes, zero inches of snow. Northern Trust isn’t the only firm to notice this, either: Dozens of other companies keep their headquarters or major offices in Tempe, so there are a ton of people to network and connect with.
In the summer, Palmira says, the heat means you might even get to deviate from the traditional corporate dress code. “We still have a great culture as far as the work environment goes,” she says. “But there are different adventures out here that you can be a part of.”
Whether you’re looking to work on the cutting edge of FinTech or to find your fit as a financial professional, be sure to check out all the exciting opportunities at Northern Trust on WayUp right now!