Universum logo

Swedish Student Survey: Big banks excel, FinTech fails

By Universum, 2023-03-01

Swedish students have had their say and we now know what they think of you as an employer, what they prioritize when choosing a future workplace, and last but not least, who the Most Attractive Employers in Sweden are for 2023. In 2023, we saw uncertain environment affects the career preferences of our students. A greater focus on the primary needs and a lesser focus on the secondary needs not only reflect our everyday life during tougher times, but also the choice of employer. Swedish students increasingly prioritize high pay while sustainability issues are becoming less and less.

About the Student Survey 

This year’s student survey ran from September 2022 to January 2023 and was answered by a total of 20,520 students, which is Sweden’s largest career survey to date. Universum’s surveys are answered annually by over 1.5 million respondents, in 65 markets worldwide, which results in Sweden’s most comprehensive – but also the world’s largest talent survey by far. This gives us a unique knowledge base and understanding of what talent is looking for and expects from employers. The data is further segmented by gender, age, educational background, etc. The right data consequently gives you as an employer relevant insight into how you need to proceed in order to attract and retain your right target group. 

Career preferences 

Compensation and secure employment are the most important priorities in 2023 for Swedish students when choosing a future employer. Encouraging balance between work life and private life as well as flexible working conditions continue to become even more important. In general, it can be said that Respect and Kindness in the Swedish work environment is generally increasing as a career preference. However, characteristics such as a Creative and dynamic work environment, Challenging work, Ethical norms and CSR are becoming less important. Perhaps CSR has become a so-called hygiene factor, i.e. that today it is more or less expected of an employer. The commitment to sustainability has decreased successively since 2020. 

Money Talks 

Although the importance of sustainability has declined over the past four years, 2023 represents the year in which the importance of financial sustainability has reached an all-time high among students. Unstable economic times shifts the focus to industries that can handle economic uncertainty. Companies that have a proven ability to act with a financial responsibility mindset are more attractive this year.  

One industry expected to navigate a high interest/inflation environment is banking. With fears of a looming recession, the emphasis on smart money management seems to outweigh employment with successful growth employers. This clearly correlates with this year’s ranking, which shows an increased interest among students in working at large and prestigious banks. 

Industry trends 

The banking sector was one of the big winners in 2023 according to the student survey. However, this is the first time since  2019 that Fintech is experiencing a sharp industry decline among finance and IT students, with many trendy FinTech companies dropping ranks. In general, we see the entire tech industry losing attractiveness as a consequence of a looming recession and ongoing layoffs across the industry. Major players such as Spotify, Google and Microsoft remain very attractive, but they also lost percentages in this year’s ranking. This is likely due to the uncertainty that affects the industry and the large layoffs that are occurring. The bottom line is that today, it is not considered a safe industry to work in. 


Google takes back 1st place from Spotify in this year’s ranking among tech students. Klarna drops 17 ranking positions among both tech students and civil engineers and drops from rank 4 to 21 among economists. Avanza is also losing percentages in IT and finance. Things are better for the traditional big banks. Among economists, SEB rises from rank 14 to 5, Swedbank from 7 to 4, and both Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Handelsbanken up. We also see a trend among employers linked to the national defense. Both Saab, the Armed Forces and FOI showed strong ranking performances this year. This may of course be directly related to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. 


Women still expect 7% lower starting salary than men. If we break this down by study background, 2023 is the first year ever where we have a group where women expect a higher salary than men; the lawyers. Unfortunately, we see a correlation between the students’ expected starting salaries and the actual salaries later in their professional lives. This is how there needs to be a change in expectation and demand. 

Download Sweden’s 2023 Rankings

Interested in finding out who the top ranked employers were?

Visit our rankings page to find out the companies that made our Most Attractive Employer Rankings.
Go to rankings

Related Content

What is Employer Branding?

What is an EVP?

What is Talent Research?

Universum logo
Follow us:

Talent Insights and Employer Branding Expertise
© 2024 Universum Communications Sweden AB, company registration no. 5565875993, 103 86 Stockholm. All Rights Reserved.