The third quarter of the year is always a challenging one in the world of recruitment and Q3 of 2017 was no different. Plagued by both candidates and clients going on annual leave and school holidays, the summer months were very slow moving with numerous processes coming to an abrupt halt. The contract space saw a constant flow of jobs but the interviewing timeline was longer for the same reasons mentioned above.
However, we did see a few key trends throughout the summer. In the investment banking world we saw a continuation of roles being released in the product control and FP&A areas. In product control there has been an emphasis on clients only looking for candidates with strong technical knowledge and considerable experience with complex products. Most roles across FP&A in investment banking focussed on cost reduction. We believe this is mainly due to the changing environment of the investment banking industry caused by a reduced level of M&A activity and an increase in competiveness of the smaller Boutiques.
On the Contract side, our clients particularly sought candidates with not only extensive product knowledge but also an understanding of Risk and Valuations concepts., and Internal Audit was another active area of recruitment in Q3.
On the Investment Banking side, clients sought candidates with solid experience in particular areas such as Treasury or Front Office audit. Although showing some flexibility in terms of backgrounds, candidates with Big 4 Internal Audit experience were better positioned to secure a contract role.
The asset management industry has not followed this trend. On the buy side we saw an increase in the number of management accounting positions. The majority of these roles required candidates with considerable knowledge of the asset management industry, coupled with experience at a firm who had been through a large transformation programme.
We assume this has been the result of a high number of buy side firms carrying out large transformation programmes. As a result, a high number of roles have a large project element and our clients require candidates who have experience of this. Therefore, we have found that our clients have been more flexible in terms of number of years experience and have concentrated more on practical experience compared to the number of years in a role.
In relation to Contract opportunities, Asset Management firms recruited in various areas including Fund Accounting, FP&A and Internal Audit. Clients expected not only relevant BAU experience but also a proven track record of re-engineering and improving existing systems.
Audit functions within the Banking sector have seen a significant growth this quarter, with team sizes increasing and a much higher demand for internal Auditors, especially within the IT space. This has a number of contributing factors, the most significant being the role of information technology and the importance of reliability, validity and information integrity.
In addition it is becoming increasingly important for all foreign subsidiaries to have an Internal Audit function to ensure minimal risk to their overseas parent company. We have also seen a number of the UK based subsidiaries making the transition to a branch, therefore creating a necessity to have an Internal Auditor on site.
As a result, IT Auditors have been highly sought after due to the markets substantial change in requirements. Something that has also become clear is candidates are more interested in moving in the smaller companies or subsidiaries because the roles become much broader. In the smaller banks the Audit function has more interaction with other areas of the business and to most; this is more attractive than the more niche roles.
Over Q3 we have seen a continued level of positions being released within Product Control, Valuations and from the beginning of September, Newly Qualified Corporate Accounting positions.
Within Investment Banking clients the focus has been around proven experience with a specific product and this has covered Financial Reporting, Product Control & Regulatory Reporting, historically academic prowess and the “Big 4” profile has been preferred but this is starting to change.
Additionally, due to the offshoring of a number of junior functions over the past 3-5 years, firms need to replace like for like when opportunities arise and therefore are struggling to find candidates that have the depth of knowledge required.
As we approach Q4, we expect an increase in the number of requests for Contractors, especially in the year end accounting space. Therefore, our general predictions are that hiring levels will continue on a positive trend for the last three months of 2017.
Across Investment Management positions are remaining open for longer as there is a shortage of mid level candidates with the desired background looking to move into traditional senior level positions, this is due to an increase in competition from non traditional employers such as Fin-Tech etc.
Within the executive (100k+) level there are a shortage of positions to meet the demands of the candidate base and general uncertainty around the post Brexit environment is equally stifling senior management from making hiring decisions at this level.