Increased consolidation, shrinking assets under management and ongoing redundancy announcements...it doesn't take a genius to see the fund management recruitment landscape isn't exactly rosy. However, some small shoots of optimism are beginning to emerge.
Credit Agricole and Societe Generale are the latest firms to merge their asset management functions, which follows on from Aberdeen Asset Management's purchase of Credit Suisse Global Investors - both moves are likely to spur job cuts. The latter is expected to result in a "significant" proportion of Credit Suisse's 586-strong team being laid off.
This is in addition to the likes of AllianceBernstein, Barclays Global Investors, F&C, Fidelity, Putnam and Threadneedle, among others, all announcing redundancies.
However, the most recent PricewaterhouseCoopers/CBI financial services survey suggests that 45% of UK fund managers are actually looking to add headcount in the first quarter.
This could be wishful thinking, says Patrick Morrissey, group managing director of executive search firm Sheffield Haworth.
"There's no natural expansion going on and I don't see particular hiring trends for growth in UK asset management groups for at least six to nine months," he says.
Martin Lorigan, director of the asset management practice at Principal Search, adds: "There will inevitably be some movement at a senior level as people choose to leave the industry or retire. If they hold business critical roles they will need to be replaced irrespective of market conditions, however in general, the hiring market is very quiet and we expect it to remain that way for at least the first half of the year."
There are exceptions, of course, such as Norges Bank Investment Management which intends to recruit for its London office "in all investment areas", Henderson Global Investors' opportunistic hiring of a team of currency managers from Fortis and RAB Capital's supposed expansion plans.
Then there's the new entrants, which both Morrissey and Lorigan admit are likely to provide some hiring opportunities this year.
So far, these includeTokio Marine Asset Management, Metropolitan Real Estate Equity Management and we understand Vanguard Investments is due to do the same.
Nina Gilbert, founding partner of Fisher Barrie, a specialist asset management recruitment firm, is keen to point out things are not that grim in the UK.
"The market is clearly tougher, even more so than before Christmas," she says. "But we are still seeing a decent level of recruitment and there are core senior positions that need to be filled."