Q4 can be a quiet period for recruitment and processes tend to slow down. However this year there was a steady stream of jobs released, even in the run up to Christmas with clients looking to get ahead on hiring for the beginning of 2019. This was seen on both the Banking and Asset Management side and some clients continued the interview process with candidates even when there was a freeze on new starters until January. This meant they didn’t lose momentum with strong candidates were well placed to secure in demand candidates.
The contract market usually remains steady over Q4, however this year was notably more buoyant with roles being released up until the very last day of 2018. Some of this was due to hiring managers wishing to use up their annual budget, and with the added ambiguity of Brexit, a temp resource is easier to justify instead of committing to a long term hire.
Overall, the quarter was busy and gave us optimistic market signs, interviews and processes did continue, even if some decisions did get deferred to early 2019, particularly for some more senior hires.
Throughout the Q4, we saw a range of roles at all levels of seniority, with senior roles in regulatory reporting, senior operations manager roles at mid size and boutique firms, as well as a number of jobs for 1/2 years’ experience or even graduate level.
We have seen an increase in middle office roles, predominantly within the derivatives space at both Asset Managers and top tier Investment Banks. With hiring largely across equity and credit derivatives. In addition to this, candidates with strong regulatory knowledge have been in demand as firms looked to expand the skillset and knowledge of their workforce, with a leaner model.
We also noted a high volume of data roles, with demand across reference data, data governance and valuation data. Skills such as VBA, SQL and Python are becoming increasingly important with regards to these roles especially with artificial intelligence and robotics becoming more prevalent.
As firms start to prepare for Brexit and set up new entities elsewhere, the majority of our clients still aim to have a significant presence in London as it will remain a crucial financial hub. To this effect, the larger banks have hired multiple teams of specialist contractors to help set up these entities as smoothly as possible and ensure the day to day operations run efficiently.
There has also been a steady influx of both oversight and corporate actions roles during Q4 showing that firms are still aiming to expand their middle office functions. Strong candidates who have good technical and operational knowledge, as well as an in depth understanding of the trading lifecycle, have been in demand as firms seek to expand the technical skills of their workforce.
We anticipate an increase in client demand and candidates on the market as we get into Q1 2019, with hiring plans being firmed up and an increase in attrition hires after bonuses are given out. With the amount of uncertainty in the market, candidates may be harder to tempt into moving; they need to be sure that the opportunity presented to them is a great new challenge with the desired progression.
As Brexit looms ever nearer, many Asset Managers and Banks are now growing their presence in Europe and we have reacted to this as a firm. We are looking to continue offering our services to clients across the UK, but to also expand on the services we provide across Europe.
Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Zurich, Warsaw, Dublin and Paris are just some examples of locations where we expect to see a further increase in the volume of roles as a result of firms safeguarding against possible Brexit effects.