What is the true state of financial services recruitment? Our analysis earlier today suggested a mere 20% of FICC professionals who lost their jobs in the second half of 2011 have found new ones. Financial News reported yesterday that only 11% of recently redundant RBS staff are back in work.
Our own stats suggest UK financial services jobs fell 11% in the first quarter of 2012, which doesn’t sound too bad. Private equity jobs were up especially, with a 36% increase year-on- year. Equities jobs were down especially: they fell 50% year-on-year.
Beyond the stats, here’s what recruiters are saying about the situation on the ground. Some are even bullish. Some aren't.
Hugo Sugden, director, Global Quant Recruitment, says:
“We’re actually seeing quite a bit going on. It’s the same old principal – there’s demand for revenue generating people. Banks are cutting non-revenue generating roles, but we’re seeing big demand for salespeople and traders who can bring revenues – especially for systematic traders.
Demand is biggest on the buyside, from systematic prop firms and hedge funds.”
Simon Lindrea, director at Michael Page financial services, says:
"Banks are still hiring newly qualified accountants. However, many more routine roles have been off-shored to locations like Warsaw, Manila, Mumbai or Singapore so the combination of this and the market generally means that they are hiring fewer of them than previously in London. There's still strong demand for strong technical people, experienced regulatory accountants and for accountants with more of a decision support type background. Strong finance change and projects type backgrounds are also in high demand."
An anonymous senior equities headhunter says:
“It’s pretty quiet. There’s just too much uncertainty in the market and the political uncertainty in France isn’t helping. Volumes in cash equities have been pretty bad and you need them to pick up for any sustained hiring. A lot of the banks that were building – like Jefferies, RBC and BarCap, have finished - and they were sustaining the market last year. Now it’s just about tweaking around the edges.”
When he says to succumb to desperation: “If you’re good, you’ll get picked up. If you’re not, you won’t. My advice to people on the street is that after six months of not working you will be seen by a potential employer as less attractive and should be thinking of doing something else. It’s dangerous to give up on 2012 and think you’ll wait until 2013. Banks are fairly cautious and are looking for reasons not to hire in this market.”
Jonathan Evans, chairman of Sammons Associates, says:
“There’s been a bit of a flurry of activity – some upgrades, some replacement work. It’s less than normal at this time of year, but there’s some activity out there. Exane has been hiring from RBS and Bank of America. Berenberg has been hiring too. It’s going to be down on last year, but there are firms out there recruiting.”
When he says to succumb to desperation: “If you haven’t found a job at the end of the summer, you should start to panic and begin thinking of alternative careers outside mainstream financial services – either investor relations or financial PR maybe.”
An anonymous senior fixed income headhunter says:
“It’s bad, really bad, really tough – except in areas like regulatory, sovereign debt trading or CVA trading.”
When she says to succumb to desperation: “If you’ve been out of the market for six months it’s going to be very difficult to get back in.”
An anonymous internal fixed income headhunter says:
“It’s going to be a tough year. The first quarter is always strong, but now we’re approaching the third quarter we’re starting to see things drop off considerably. We’ve seen fewer resignations this year. A few banks like Deutsche, Goldman and JPMorgan are trying to poach people – mostly for higher base salaries; some are going for 20% increases, but I’ve seen people going for 50%.”
When she says to succumb to desperation: “There will definitely be more cuts in fixed income as the year progresses, so you ideally need to get back in soon.”
Gail Danvers, head of the banking and financial services team at PSD Recruitment, says:
"There's hiring, but it's in pockets and there's less of it. In 2010 and 2011 we regularly had ten or more roles in risk with a number of investment banks and now we have one or two roles per bank. The market in areas like regulatory risk remains competitive for skilled candidates but clients' specifications are very tight and they are willing to delay hiring and continue to review CVs rather than flex on the criteria slightly and hire. It's taking a lot longer to fill roles than previously - it might take 14-16 weeks instead of 10-12, for example. Candidates are also being asked to move for smaller salary increases of around 8-10%, instead of 20% previously, and this is delaying things too."
John Axworthy, director of investment banking at Wheat Search, says:
“We are very busy. I guess we’ve just been lucky. We’ve got a few clients who are hiring aggressively and looking for M&A professionals in the mid-market. Business here is still very active.”
An anonymous owner of a headhunting boutique, says:
“None of the big banks are doing a great deal of hiring. Private wealth management and investment management is busier, but they want people from those businesses already – they’re not looking to hire people from investment banks.”
When he says to succumb to desperation: “It all depends upon your circumstances. If you’ve spent the past 10 years working for a single bank and have survived previously downturns without losing your job, you are going to be viewed more favourably if you’ve been out of the market for 12 months than someone who’s spent two years at each different employer.”
An anonymous M&A headhunter says:
“There’s really not much going on. Not even in the middle market. Not many people have been let go and there’s no upshift in the level of applicants.”
When he says to succumb to desperation: “Generally, if you’re an analyst or associate and you’re out of the market for any more than six months, a new employer will want to drop you down a year before hiring you.”