The Middle Office and Operations recruitment market was buoyant at the start of Q1 and remained busy as bonuses were paid out. As we approached the end of Q1 with the uncertainty and volatility of COVID-19 pandemic, recruitment became less of a focus for our clients as we entered an unprecedented situation. As we progressed towards lockdown period with everyone working from home this presented new challenges to the recruitment process and onboarding new starters into companies.
The recruitment process very quickly adapted to the change in everyone’s circumstances and moved to video interviews and phone interviews. For business critical roles clients have been onboarding new starters remotely. Where remote onboarding isn’t possible clients have also looked to offering candidates to make sure they don’t lose out on the best talent, with a view to onboarding once lockdown restrictions have been eased.
India’s lockdown announcement on 24th March, has also been a key driver in the Operations market. Although thousands of miles away, UK businesses, already with their own coronavirus challenges, now have to worry about the challenges faced by the companies that do work on their behalf from India. Many UK financial services firms have subsequently altered their hiring strategies, particularly from an interim perspective, in an attempt to re-shore work from India to the UK.
The other big news is of course IR35 being delayed until April next year. Some clients have decided to reassess their approach to contractors and allow limited companies until the deadline next year. Delaying the IR35 reform for 12 more months has been a positive solution for a few of our clients who have had to pause their permanent recruitment due to Covid-19, and have now been able to attract the best talent on a contract basis for the interim.
The number of candidates looking in the job market is less then usual for around bonus time due to the uncertainty. If candidates are in a stable job they need to be sure that any new potential opportunity is the right move for them and a great step for their career. However our recent candidate survey* showed that 69% of candidates would move jobs, even in the current economic climate. This means that proactive clients who are proceeding with business critical roles may have less competition in securing top talent.
Throughout 2019, Regulatory Reporting has been one of the most active areas for clients, and it continued to be a very busy area in Q1. Mid-size and smaller Asset Managers have been hiring to grow and strengthen their regulatory reporting areas. This has seen hiring at the senior level, manager or head of, and filling out the team at junior level looking for one to three years of experience.
Client reporting has also been a busy area for us this quarter, with many Asset Managers looking to increase their client reporting capabilities. We mainly saw hiring at the junior level, one to three years experience, and mid level, three to seven years experience.
Data Management and Data Governance were busy areas for us last year and this was another area which continued to be busy in Q1 as Asset Managers looked to improve their data and reporting capabilities. We saw hiring at the senior end this quarter, with management and strong stakeholder management skills highly sought after.
We also saw high demand for operations oversight roles. If the exact skillset is not always available in the market some clients have been happy to look at candidates with less oversight experience, but strong operations/trade lifecycle knowledge who show strong communication and stakeholder management skills.
Although we are in an unprecedented situation with no certainty of when things will return to more normal working routines, we expect clients will continue to identify the most important roles for their long terms plans and continue to hire for these despite the challenges. While these business critical roles will still be hired in this lockdown period, we expect a big increase in hiring to take place once restrictions start to be lifted – hopefully towards the end of Q2.
With IR35 delayed we also expect an increase in hiring on the contracting market this quarter. As we have noticed already, a large number of our clients have decided to continue engaging with PSCs and allow contractors to use Limited Companies, gaining competitor advantage over other institutions such as the large Investments banks which have decided to carry on with the implementation of IR35 reform. By taking into account the current unusual times and with clients being more cautious in hiring on a permanent basis, the possibility to recruit candidates on PSC’s engagements for the short-term would most likely lead to a number of contract opportunities.
Another prediction is that once lockdown is all over we will see a more flexible approach to working from home. In our recent candidate survey* we found that 46% of operations candidates said work/life balance and flexible working was the most important factor for their job satisfaction and also
made it the biggest factor in motivation for moving roles. This period where the majority of people working from home will cause Financial Services to reassess their working from home policies. Companies that do offer a better work/life balance and flexible working will be able to attract more of the top talent in the market.
*BRUIN Financial conducted an independent survey during the period of March-April, contacting over 10,000 middle office and operations candidates.
For more information about the market or current opportunities please contact one of our Consultants.