Insights

Finance & Accountancy

FINANCE MARKET COMMENTARY, Q4 2017

• Article by BRUIN Financial

FINANCE MARKET COMMENTARY, Q4 2017

MARKET OVERVIEW

The final quarter of the year has seen a 42% increase in permanent roles across the Finance and Accounting sector compared to Q4 last year. Within the market there has been a steady inflow of new roles from both our investment banking and asset management client.

In both the investment banks and asset management, we have observed clients looking to grow their Regulatory Reporting teams. This is the result of new regulations being introduced within the Financial Sector throughout 2018 and an expectation of the impact of Brexit when this is known.

Meanwhile, there has also been a common trend where Investment Banks are growing their product control teams. Global banks which have decided to remain in London following Brexit are looking to ‘double down’ on their presence in the market by bringing in experienced product controllers with strong technical knowledge & direct product exposure.

In the asset management space, we have seen a continual shift of job areas such as Fund Accounting being offshored to cheaper financial hubs outside the UK. In general, this has been seen to be part a cost saving strategy.

On the candidate side, we have seen that candidates are less likely to leave permanent positions for purely financial gain and are more content to stay in their current role to wait for the “perfect” position and firm to arrive. The increase in benefits such as flexible working hours and the ability to work from home are becoming more prominent factors for candidates searching for a new role as well as a strong rapport with their direct reporting manager and a smooth recruitment process.

In the contract space, demand from our buy side and sell side clients was varied.   While Product Control and IPV were key areas of recruitment in Banking,  our  Asset Management clients hired on a more diverse spectrum, including  in areas such as FP&A, Fund Accounting and Financial Reporting. Candidates with strong Regulatory Reporting experience were highly demanded by our clients from both sectors, for BAU or project related work alike.

 

ROLE PROFILES

Over the course of Q4 we had roles in all areas including Fund Accounting, Internal Audit and Finance Business Partnering. As mentioned previously, there were specific spikes in Regulatory Roles and Product Control Roles.

In asset management, the vast majority of roles have required candidates who are professionally qualified accountants. On top of this, it was becoming increasingly important for the candidates to have notable post qualified experience in the same area of expertise i.e. fund accounting. However, the need for candidates with ‘Big Four’ experience has subsided in the last quarter as clients are realising that the potential pool of candidates is significantly slimmer with this requirement.

The product control roles that we have seen from the Investment Banks have been of a more technical nature including FX Forwards. As a result this has led Clients to shift their focus from finding someone who would be able to learn on the job to candidates that already have the technical knowledge and skill set required to do the role they are looking to fill. Investment Banks are generally are looking for more experienced hires rather than entry level hires.

With bonus season looming for many potential candidates during Q1 next year, there has been a slowdown in the commitment of candidates to pursuing roles unless there is a guarantee of a bonus buyout or a salary compensation for their losses. This is a regular occurrence in the final quarter of the year and was anticipated.

In relation to contract opportunities, although not as strictly as in the past, ‘Big Four’ qualified ACAs were still highly preferred by our clients in comparison with candidates that qualified through smaller practices. With particular regard to the Product Control and IPV space, our Banking clients offered good and competitive rates as a result of their  higher expectations in terms of specific product knowledge, relevant qualifications and technical skills (VBA, SQL, etc.) The same trend was followed by buy side firms as well, thus contractors with direct relevant experience and knowledge of particular products or funds were better positioned to secure a role in Q4.

 

Audit

As we have seen in Q3 the Audit function within Banking has continued to show a steady growth with roles continuing to be released the whole way through the final quarter of the year. Due to the larger Investment Banks ‘ring fencing’ their day-to-day functions in order to strengthen the financial system has meant that Internal Audit requirements have also increased. Off the back of departments making alterations and movement internally, this has opened up roles in the London locations and in their regional offices. In addition because these requirements are to be completed by 1st January 2019, the trends we have seen will continue into 2018 to complete processes by this date.

In addition, smaller businesses are viewing the Internal Audit and IT Audit functions of high importance and as a result ensuring they have sufficient processes in place to ensure regulatory requirements are matched. Newly qualified candidates who have been trained within the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms starting their careers in Audit are highly sought after and as a result are taken off the market very quickly. Audit teams are continuing to hire well trained candidates and mid – senior level making these roles highly competitive due to the increased demand.

At senior level roles we have seen an incremental increase over the year and this increase is expected to continue in 2018. This bodes well for the market in the months to come but again means that the competition for these positions is much greater.

 

PREDICTIONS

Q1 is shaping up to be a busy quarter for the temporary desk with a very busy start to the Quarter as numerous jobs have come through from Clients. This frantic start will continue as the Bonus pay-outs start, numerous people will choose to leave their positions and firms will need to be an immediate response in filling this role with contractors. We also  foresee that the uncertainty around Brexit will generally increase the demand for contractors, at least temporarily.

Going into Q1 Brexit may begin to have a clearer impact on the Finance and Accounting sector. Many Investment Banks have now decided their Brexit strategy and will in time made public announcements that will shape perception of firm’s depending on their strategy.

Some firms have made their plans known which has allowed candidates to see them in a positive light when they are recruiting if they are maintaining their presence in London and high calibre individuals likely to be impacted by roles relocating to Europe are starting their job searches.

Throughout Q4 we received an increase of senior candidate (£100k+) looking to move into a new role in 2018 which normal behaviour of such candidates during the final quarter of the year. Therefore, with the upcoming bonus period in Q1 next year, we expect there to be movement in senior candidates and positions throughout the first Quarter. This would be an excellent time for any business to look to bolster their executive team to ensure their 2018 – 2020 strategy is delivered.

BRUIN NEWS

BRUIN recently held an event in partnership with The 30% Club and Women Ahead, a  diversity mentoring specialist at M&G’s offices. This event was held in November to explore the innovative strategies being used by firms to attract and retain women in City and address the challenge of gender imbalance within financial services, with over 100 financial services professionals in attendance. This event complemented another recent event held at M&G’s offices focusing on Women Returners for the Diversity Project, for which BRUIN is represented on the Steering Committee.

Please get in touch if you would like to hear about further events on this theme.