Insights

Finance & Accountancy

FINANCE MARKET COMMENTARY, Q2 2018

• Article by BRUIN Financial

FINANCE MARKET COMMENTARY, Q2 2018

MARKET OVERVIEW

In Q2 of 2018 the volume of jobs across Finance has remained steady with the increase we saw in Q1. Although the majority of the roles have been replacement hires, the movement of candidates has been greatly affected by the outcome of bonus and promotion periods that tend to take place towards the end of March and coming into fruition by April or May. Off the back of these processes candidates will often assess the market out of interest, find a high volume of roles available and begin actively seeking something new.

The bonus season coincided with a rise in demand for Contractors across a range of functions within both Asset Management and Investment Banking. Our clients particularly sought candidates for their Financial Reporting, Regulatory Reporting and Product Control functions.  A significant amount of vacancies represented short term replacement hires for candidates leaving their permanent positions.  Generally, our clients opted for 3-6 months rolling contracts to cover their immediate needs while running the recruitment process for permanent employees.

For longer assignments, we noted that at the junior and mid-range level, firms chose the Fixed Term Contract option as opposed to day rate contracts. In our view, this can be associated with cost cutting initiatives.  As seasoned contractors strongly prefer day rates, financial institutions aimed to  maintain competitiveness by offering guaranteed bonuses upon completion of Fixed Term Contracts.

Over the past six months we have seen many financial services institutions trying to keep team sizes small and functional with replacement hires being very specific in their criteria of profiles. As we have noted previously, demand for junior to mid-level hires has been high, leaning more pressure amongst the senior members of teams who specialise in more niche areas.

In the Contract space, there was a constant flow of requests from our clients and the demand for standard reporting roles was mainly concentrated at mid-level and junior positions.  However, Project roles in the Fund Accounting and Regulatory Reporting space required extensive Business Analysis skills and wide industry experience.  As the trend set in Q1 continued in Q2, Newly Qualified ACAs from the Big 4 were still highly sought after for contract positions.

Within Investment Banking the demand for Product Controllers has somewhat decreased which we have identified as a result of the majority of these teams having been moved to offshore locations. Although positions within this area are still available, they are becoming much more specialist and precise product experience within senior hires is highly sought after. On the project side the trend remains very similar with banks endeavouring to re-define processes whilst also acting as management for their offshore counterparts.

Within Asset Management we observed a continued flow of roles outside of the UK, with Luxembourg continuing to hire a great deal. Across all firms, from boutiques to Tier 1 entities the roles have been at the more senior end of the scale suggesting smaller team sizes in their Luxembourg office, but broader experience. In London MI is continuing to be at the forefront of business strategy and improvements with hiring continuing to increase. The importance of budgets, cost and revenue analysis is driving a great deal of recruitment within the area, making quality candidates highly sought after.

 

ROLE PROFILES

Predicting trends through the first half of 2018 in Accountancy and Finance has been particularly challenging. This is for a number of reasons, the first being a high number of organisations looking to streamline functions and avoid replacement hires wherever possible. The second is the desire to move functions outside into lower cost centers. We have seen this in the Asset Management industry with many firms looking to move their Fund Administration teams and Fund Accounting teams to area such as Luxembourg, Dublin, Edinburgh and Manchester.

One trend we have seen throughout Q2 is the number of clients in the Investment Banking space looking for qualified Product Controllers. A growing number of clients are open to different product areas for qualified candidates with the aim to offer ‘on the job training’ to get them up to speed in the specified product area. We have also seen an increase in mid level Financial Controller positions, instead of replacing candidates with like for like experience. As a result, candidates are becoming more interested in opportunities that will allow them to gain additional responsibility and increased Senior Stakeholder management. We have seen this mainly in the Financial Accountant and Financial Controller space where firms can hire candidates with similar skill sets and then look to offer internal training and development.

In the Investment Management space we have seen an increase in the number of roles based outside of London. This is mainly due to firms looking to reduce costs and take advantage of the ever increasing quality of the candidate pool outside of London. We have seen a similar trend in firms seeking  to replace fully qualified accountants with part qualified candidates. For example, we have seen that clients are open to replacing qualified Fund Accountants with candidates with less experience who still have exams remaining in their accountancy qualification.

In the Investment Banking space, offshoring of the Product Control function resulted in a gradual decrease in hiring for contractors. In addition organisations have become more selective during the recruitment process. The profile of successful candidates had to include a mix of solid technical IT skills, niche product knowledge and an extensive understanding of Accounting, Risk and valuations principles.

There was a constant demand for candidates with Regulatory Reporting experience for both business as usual and project roles. Project based roles required a mixture of strong technical skills such as VBA or SQL, wide Regulatory Reporting knowledge and experience in using certain systems or software.

On the Asset Management side, the needs of our clients were diverse and covered an array of positions, including Financial Reporting, Management Accounting, Fund Accounting and a limited number of MI and FP&A support roles at junior level.  For Financial Reporting roles, successful candidates were either ACA qualified with Big 4 Audit background or seasoned contractors with solid experience in similar organisations.

 

PREDICTIONS

With candidates seeking to move to ensure they are in the best possible position before BREXIT, those firms with a clear and public strategy around where their operations will be based should have an advantage over those who are still to make it known, additionally, non EU facing business such as North American, Asian & UK Market entities will be more preferable to candidates.

In relation to the Contract market, our prediction is that the uncertainty of the current employment climate should result in an increase in the number of temporary positions available in Q3.   As our clients try to be more adaptable to the continuous changes occurring within the European market, firms will aim to build a wider base of contractors to achieve a greater degree of flexibility.

In both Asset Management and Banking there was a consistent demand for contractors with previous process and systems improvement experience, as well as candidates from Finance Change and Regulatory Change backgrounds.  As our clients are racing to become technologically competitive,  we expect strong project related  recruitment to  continue in Q3 and Q4 .Additionally  the expectations of a job seeker around the financial reward they will receive to move will increase and need to be carefully managed during a search from both the recruiter and client to ensure expectations do not exceed reality.

Markets that will see the strongest job flow will be FP&A, Product Control and Internal Audit –  FP&A will be an area of high demand as businesses seek to add resources to ensure they have the correct level of MI and performance data to make the upcoming, critical decisions. This could in turn lead to an increase in roles that have a “change” focus that require a strong understanding of the BAU environment, we have started to see such positions within Regulatory Reporting & IT Infrastructure and it is likely that this will continue as businesses change to meet the new environment.

 

BRUIN NEWS

BRUIN Financial are proud winners of the ‘Recruiter of the Year’ category at the 2018 Women in Finance Awards, which recognises the firm that has championed equal pay and diversity in financial recruitment. BRUIN was particularly commended for leading change in the industry and providing insightful counsel to help their clients achieve fair gender representation at every level.

From a recruitment perspective, BRUIN has recently opened an office in Dublin in partnership with local firm Barden, to provide high quality specialist recruitment services into the Irish financial services sector. For more information on our Irish capability, please contact one of our Consultants.

We are also delighted to have been recognised by the  Sunday Times as a Best 100 Small Company to Work For in the UK, and additionally ranked in the list for London.