It was a buoyant start to Q4 in Operations, which became slower and more unpredictable as the quarter went on. This was due to a number of factors including the general election and uncertainty around the UK’s exit from the European Union. Bonus season on the horizon also meant that some companies put their hiring plans on hold, with the exception of critical senior hires. As a result, some processes dragged considerably which can have a detrimental effect on securing top talent. Slower processes can mean a loss in momentum and risks candidates being swayed by faster moving competitors, especially in the busier key areas where multiple companies were looking to hire.
The key areas where multiple companies were looking to hire and compete with each other for the top talent were in the Regulatory space, Transfer Agency and Operations Oversight and Data Management/Governance.
Throughout 2019, Regulatory Reporting has been one of the most active areas for our team, and it has shown no sign of slowing down in Q4. Our clients understand that a well-functioned Regulatory Reporting structure is essential to their organisation to be able to satisfy any requirements from regulators. Asset Managers have been hiring to grow and strengthen their regulatory reporting areas and we have seen quite a few roles at a senior manager level or Head of, as well as hiring at a more junior level. Salary ranges at senior manager tended to be from around £100,000 to £120,000 on base salary and £40,000 to £50,000 at the junior level.
We also have seen increased demand for Transfer Agency and Operations Oversight areas as clients look at centralising the oversight function across Middle Office or Operations. There was often a demand for candidates with good regulatory knowledge such as CASS in these roles and strong relationship / stakeholder management skills. We have seen senior roles from £80,000 to £100,000 on base salary and roles at a more junior level of £50,000 to £60,000 in these areas in the last quarter.
Another area which has been busy in 2019 and remained a hot spot for Q4 was Data Management and Data Governance. The increase in demand for data talent has been driven by clients wanting to improve their data and reporting capabilities. In the last quarter, we saw base salary uplifts from £35,000 to £45,000 at analyst level, up to £120,000 at Head of Department level roles. At the junior level there was increased demand for candidates with strong tech knowledge and experience in coding / programming with a view to increasing their team’s process improvement/automation skillset.
As we get into 2020 we expect an increase in hiring over Q1. With less uncertainty in the market and as bonuses are paid we anticipate a lot more movement. We expect firms will be more decisive and quicker in their processes as there will be more competition for high calibre talent.
On the contracting side we originally expected candidates to look at alternative options such as Fixed Term Contracts as the IR35 regulation comes into effect in the private sector at the end of Q1, however this hasn’t proven to be the case. So far there has been positive indication of contract volume from clients., combined with a change in the way in which they engage with the contractors.
Candidates also realise that there won’t be a sudden spike in permanent roles to replace their existing contracts and therefore with enough consultative approach, they are accepting the fact that they would have to convert to PAYE or Umbrella if they do fall inside IR35. Naturally the financial services sector will always need a flexible workforce and won’t be able to sustain without it. Therefore all three parties (client, agency and candidate) have just had to adjust their expectations and carry on providing services.
For more information about the market or current opportunities please contact one of our Consultants.