Levels of recruitment during the final quarter of 2019 echoed that of the rest of the year; unpredictable and sporadic. Whilst there was still the need for firms to hire technical specialists into niche roles across the City, the London market was significantly impacted by political and economic factors. The General Election on the 12th December and the continued uncertainty surrounding the UK’s exit from the European Union encouraged firms to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to hiring, and subsequently recruitment levels were very low during the back end of 2019.
However, it has become apparent that whilst there is still an element of political uncertainty, the desire for firms to increase headcount in business critical areas has resulted in much higher levels of recruitment in early 2020. In fact, we have seen a 25% increase in job flow in the Compliance market during January, and are therefore extremely busy, particularly on the Investment Management side, across traditional and alternative Asset Managers.
Permanent Recruitment Market
Buy-Side v Sell-Side – as mentioned above, we have seen a huge growth in hiring levels in the Investment Management space in comparison to our traditional Banking clients. The constant need for technical specialists, continued growth of Compliance teams, and the roll out of regulations such as SMCR into the buy-side have all impacted the hiring levels in a positive way. The flip side is that Investment Banks are facing increased cost-cutting measures which is manifesting itself in the form of near/offshoring of recruitment and generally downsizing Compliance teams in London.
Length of Processes – as a result of uncertainty in the market, firms are being a lot more cautious with their hiring strategies. Critical hires are still being pushed through, but processes are taking much longer. Once roles are signed off, interview processes are increasingly drawn out. However, this can have a detrimental effect on the quality of hiring. Long processes often leave candidates disenchanted with the process, and roles that have been in the market for a long time are less appealing. Firms that hire with conviction are very much securing the best talent in the market.
Candidate Motivations – candidates are being a lot more cautious when it comes to their job search. There is an element of ‘self-preservation’ meaning that candidates in good roles are happy to stay put and avoid making riskier moves in the current climate. However, candidates are still moving for the right roles, but this does mean they are looking for significant increases in total compensation to move. Candidates moving from one permanent role to another are still looking for an increase of at least 20% on their basic salary.
Comp Season – as is the case this time every year, candidates are just finding out if their compensation reflects their efforts in 2019, and what it will look like for 2020. The majority of firms pay their bonuses in February / March meaning that candidate movement will start around that time. This has a particularly significant impact on the Investment Banking space, and with bonus projections not looking good there could be some excellent candidates starting to look at their next steps, meaning now is an excellent time to start hiring if you do want to secure the best talent in the market.
Shift in Working Culture– other than total compensation, the main motivational shift we are witnessing is the desire for candidates to move to firms that they feel more personally aligned to. This presents itself in two forms; either greater work life balance and flexibility, or firms that have more ethical approaches (e.g. firms with ESG strategies). Firms that can offer this are becoming increasingly appealing to candidates over traditional firms that are deemed a little ‘old school’ in their approach.
Contract Recruitment Market
As the financial attractiveness of contracting has become more questionable, some experienced professionals will be seeking the security of a permanent role. However, from a client perspective, we expect the demand for a flexible work force to remain constant throughout Q1. Day rate contracts will certainly continue to be released in Q1 and throughout 2020, but due to the impact of IR35, most of them will probably be released on a PAYE basis, at least until there will be more clarity on the implementation of this legislation.
Additionally, clients have so far tended to offer the same salaries for fixed term contract assignments, in line with what they pay their permanent employees in similar capacities. If this trend continues, it is highly probable that the pool of talent across the contract market will be reduced.
The strongest candidates will be lacking motivation to undertake a temporary assignment, when they are no better off financially than if they were a permanent employee. Some clients have previously aimed to secure quality candidates on fixed term contracts by offering a financial premium on top of the equivalent permanent salary and this trend may continue in Q1 2020, potentially in the form of completion bonuses.
Overview of the Dublin Market
2020 will likely be the year where decisions are finally made and previous Brexit related commitments to hiring in the Irish market are realised. Given the tight timeframes being imposed on the transition period companies will no longer be able to procrastinate. The early movers in 2020 will realise the real talent, while late movers will find it increasingly difficult to find available talent to meet key skills gaps and key compliance and regulatory requirements.
As the labour market continues to tighten during the year we expect to see local employers falling back to relocating internal talent from overseas and then shifting to international (rather than local) markets to fill critical roles. BRUIN Financial has now had a physical presence in Dublin for almost two years, and our experienced team has an established track record of delivering mandates with clients across the Investment Banking and Asset Management / Fund Services space. For further information please contact Harry Warwick.
As external political factors settle down, we envisage that the recruitment market in London will continue to stabilise during H1 of this year, and get busier going into H2. In addition, there is going to be an influx of candidates looking to transition into permanent roles. As a result, it should be a good year to hire compliance professionals and candidates ‘should’ be more flexible when it comes to their expectations as competition for roles increases. However, as we have seen over the past few years, this can change quickly and drastically as external factors continue to have a potential influence on the Financial Services.
For more information about the market or current opportunities please contact one of our Consultants.