Sales & Marketing

Sales & Marketing Market Commentary, Q1 2014

• Article by BRUIN Financial

Sales & Marketing Market Commentary, Q1 2014

Market Overview
The first quarter of Q1 has continued to be buoyant, with recruitment levels increasing as the quarter has progressed. Small to Mid sized Asset Managers have continued their recruitment drive from Q4 2013 whereas larger Asset Management houses stalled recruitment slightly until budgets were signed off in late February/early March.

Across the board in both Sales and Marketing, there has been an overall push in increasing team sizes, as opposed to just hiring replacement roles. This positive growth is set to continue throughout the year and marks an overall shift in the market.

In addition to overall growth, we are now seeing several Asset Management houses growing their presence in mainland Europe again. Whilst the trend has been for companies to focus on Northern Europe, we are now seeing an increased demand for professionals selling or marketing to Southern Europe as well.

Market Trends
As in the 2013, there has been a significant increase in asset managers introducing value added ETF products, but in 2014 investors have been shifting from ‘low risk’ fixed income investments towards ‘high risk’ strategies with an increasing demand for equities. This trend was encouraged by US Federal Reserve’s decision in December 2013 to start tapering its quantitative easing programme which definitely marks the start of the movement towards a more stable macroeconomic environment.

Furthermore, whereas for the past few years hedge funds have been heavily affected by tighter risk management and compliance operations driven by European directives, there has been a clear revival of old-style high return, high volatility investments appetite.

Another hot topic for 2014 has been the new EU bonus rules designed to curb excessive pay in the fund industry rules. This could create a legal and tax headache for fund companies and could deter US nationals in the US and Europe from managing European funds, however this is yet to be seen.

Lastly, since the beginning of the 2014, we have seen the real estate market recovering at an accelerating pace, which is another indicator of market recovery and proof that investors are regaining confidence which has had and will continue to have a positive impact on the fund management industry in the upcoming years.

Role Profiles
Towards the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 we have seen a booming need for asset managers to recruit for and retain most sales and marketing candidates at all levels. There has been a substantial increase in senior marketing roles requiring European Distribution/Wholesale experience, as this seems to be a growing function at large and medium sized asset managers. Similarly, most of the leading investment firms seem to be growing their European client base thus a requirement for candidates with at least an additional European language has been increasing. This trend seems to be triggered by the steady European economic recovery.

Marketing Communications candidates from executive through to senior management level are still very much in demand, especially candidates with knowledge of changes in the European Wholesale/IFA markets including the implications of RDR implementation in the UK in 2013. There has also been a fair level of movement at the Head of Marketing level at the end of last year and this hiring has led to some positive changes and restructuring of existing marketing departments. This has also enabled candidates to see internal promotions that have been stalled in recent years.

A number of houses have been recruiting for senior sales roles targeting the Nordics, Germany, France and Italy and have thus required candidates with an additional European language. In addition to senior sales roles, the supporting functions within sales have also been busy. These roles have particularly focussed on the third party distribution/wholesale/ IFA space across Europe. We have also seen a notable increase in UK Institutional Sales Manager hires, targeting institutional investors directly and via consultants.

An ongoing need for RFP writers, predominantly in the Institutional space has continued in 2014. The majority of these hires have been from analyst to VP level. With the associate level roles, relevant asset management experience as well as good RFP writing is vital, but for the lower level roles, firms have continued to adopt a more flexible approach by hiring bright, capable financial services professionals form various backgrounds that are willing to learn and improve their product knowledge and writing skills. Experienced RFP writers are predictably still in short supply, and as a result salary levels for candidates with 5+ years of experience are starting to move towards the 60,000 even £65,000 mark.

Digital functions has also seen an increasing number of new recruits, especially at larger asset managers which have invested a significant budget towards improving digital capability and developing social media channels in 2014.

Lastly, in light of the growing need for a regulated European market, compliance has been an area that has become more ingrained in the broader marketing roles across all levels.

Q4 2013 and Q1 2104 have been very buoyant and competitive, with candidates interviewing across multiple opportunities and driving basic salaries a little higher than would have been first expected when moving at this time of year.
Regarding bonus’ figures, so far they have been mixed with many companies currently in the process of releasing their figures to employees. We expect bonuses to be better than in previous years with some of the independent asset managers, particularly the smaller to mid-size houses doing well and morale is clearly better than years gone by.

Similarly salary reviews have seen some increases, but those asset managers which have managed to give uplifts have also been the ones to have the most significant levels of staff retention and very few leavers. Average salaries for candidates that move on have been interesting, with our exact figure for the quarter coming in at average uplifts of 18%.

Market predictions
Having had the best Q4 we have seen in the last 4 years; the market is definitely on the up and most firms are positive about getting budget sign off and headcount in those areas needing developed. In terms of seniority of roles, our predictions would be for more junior to mid level hiring, however we still may see movement at the senior level once all bonuses are confirmed and motivations, direction and developments are made clear.

The demand for strong communications professionals is predicted to continue with Investment writing and RFP specialists being the most sought after. Digital Marketing is a huge talking point with lots of businesses now heavily backing their team’s development, this would certainly be our “watch this space” area of growth. Overall, as the market improves, there is no indication at present that volumes will decrease in Q2 and there are still a number of extremely attractive roles out there.