The market has become more hectic in the HR space over Q1, with clients continuously vying for the best talent possible in the market. Meanwhile this has meant that there are two distinct pools of candidates emerging in this fight – those with very niche, highly desirable skillsets are finding more choice; those in more generalist, less specialised functions however are, as a result, competing for roles that are more heavily saturated with candidates with similar, interchangeable skillsets. For the clients, this means there is now further interest in offering candidates seeking to step up and into a role the opportunity to join their businesses, rather than attempting to measure the perfect ideal lateral-mover from a pool of many similar individuals.


This choice is in effect (as it relates to HR Generalists and Secretaries at least) both a cost-saving measure as well as a business culture endeavour. In terms of cost, clients are able to leverage brand name and identity in order to take on candidates who are bought into the firm’s brand and career prospects – as such, it is easier to take on these individuals versus attempting to win over more costly candidates. But it is also a measure to enable businesses to mould these candidates more easily into a part of their ideal workforce, particularly in Associate-level roles where certain candidates (such as graduates) may have little experience of the overall Financial Services market. Without prior knowledge and the habits that would come with such experience, firms are more able to take on these candidates in the knowledge that they can then shape their professional behaviours into something well-aligned to their business needs. It is a way to establish and enforce cultural change from the bottom up.


Nonetheless, the market itself remains quite buoyant and strong. This competition means that clients are also considering more out-of-the-box ideas, such as individuals outside of the Financial Services space or indeed, candidates from within Financial Services who may have some but not all of their usual key requirements. As a result our own desk remains as busy as ever, as the need to consider these individual candidates is a task better shared across agencies who have that direct one-to-one contact with many different professionals from across and outside of the FS space, allowing us to come to clients with a picture already built of what the current marketspace looks like – a picture only built through continuous engagement with the broader talent pools the UK has to offer.


Role Profiles

A variety of roles are available in the HR space at present. There is a continuing need for Business Partners as a result of firms continuing their expansion efforts into EMEA and APAC as we hopefully exit the pandemic stage of the COVID crisis. With this growth we also are seeing a need for further Talent Acquisition professionals across all levels of seniority, in order to better support these growing expansion needs.


Firms in the process of acquisition are also in turn having to deal with the bureaucratic needs of both handling acquiring their incoming workforces, as well as their conflicting rewards packages and consolidating them in a sensitive, yet market-competitive manner.  This means that there is a greater need for Benefits and Rewards specialists of a variety of flavours, such as Pensions experts and overall Total Rewards professionals. Managing relationships with these individuals is also an extra source of labour in the market, meaning there is a requirement to hire on further Data and MI Analysts who can work with increasing headcounts and the additional quantifiable information they contribute to a firm’s Payroll.


And of course, arguably the brains behind many of these operations – the Secretaries who support the VPs and Directors behind the high-level decision-making of a firm – are in high demand as well. There is a particular need for more Senior-level EAs as of late, albeit with the caveat that what is senior to one firm may be seen as a general requirement of any PA to another. Balancing expectations across different businesses and different Departmental Heads is therefore an important part of our work at present, as we act as a go-between not only for the clients and secretaries, but indeed also providing better matchmaking by educating both parties on what particular needs businesses in a different sector to their own might require.  In the end, a secretary’s skills can always be justified – it is a matter more of being able to quantify just how much of that support a client might be anticipating.




The need to improve process lifecycles remains as important as ever in order to maintain candidate attraction, otherwise the risk of individuals being pulled away by other more tempting offers can result in excellent talent leaving the FS space. We believe that, as clients continue to struggle with the bureaucratic element of liaising across HR and other decision makers in organising these interviews, that interview processes and stages might continue to be streamlined in order to better improve retention throughout these processes.


Candidates themselves however also will require further nudging over time, as there is perhaps the assumption now that the market is a free-for-all – and while yes, it certainly is a more buoyant market, that does not necessarily mean that candidates can be as free to jump ship from processes as they so please. Clients are growing concerned with having candidates willing to commit to interview processes and having better buy-in with potential new talent. As a result, the management of expectations for both client and candidate will only grow as we enter Q2.



Regional requirements have been somewhat more troublesome as of late, if only because of lower salary offerings from clients being put out in a market where candidates could as easily seek out opportunities from firms outside of the Financial Services. It can be troublesome to seek out an Associate in a role when a similar salary offering can be found from a local practice – this is of course, disregarding the fact that taking a career in FS would help move forward one’s career development into further FS roles in either London or one of the other financial hubs in the UK.


But that fact can be hard to get across to potential candidates who may be more tempted, understandably, to take on whichever role guarantees them stability first, long interview processes be damned. Regional hiring will therefore require hiring managers and decision makers to be cognisant of the fact that the Financial Services do not always necessarily carry the same clout in the mind of every single candidate – whilst this is not a call to outright match London salaries and packages, what could assist in drawing local talent in would be setting out further information to share with these candidates, such as benefits packages on offer.


Diversity & Inclusion:

Bruin’s first in person event of 2022, “Advancing Black Women in Financial Services” was recently held in partnership with networking group Black Women in Asset Management (BWAM), an industry association that promotes the retention and advancement of Black women working in asset management.

Attendees from across financial services came together to learn about the latest research on creating inclusive organisations for Black women, how to remove the barriers blocking progression in the industry and BWAM’s transformative Leadership Accelerator programme.

We were delighted to be joined by Chair and Co-Founder of BWAM, Jacqueline Taiwo, who took part in panel discussion moderated by Emily Ayre, MD of Bruin, with representatives from Delta Alpha Psi and Ferdisha Snagg, Counsel at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, to discuss the impact of the BWAM Leadership Accelerator course and perspectives on how senior leaders in asset management can create work environments that provide equitable opportunities for Black women to advance and thrive.