Volatile markets have dictated an unpredictable start to 2016 on the recruitment front. Hiring decisions have been rational but largely as a reaction to the changing economic outlook in the UK. The first quarter of the financial year has experienced a steady flow as Asset Managers and Banks are consolidating new hires due to fresh budgets and internal moves, as a consequence of the Q1 bonus season. We have also observed a number of larger financial service providers restructuring in accordance with changing market trends which has resulted in a wave of redundancies.
A consistent trend throughout Q1 has been a need for digital candidates across all levels. Digital specialists have been most sought after; however, we have seen digital elements incorporated in various roles most notably in Sales Support and Content writing positions. The emergence of these new hybrid roles comes at a crucial time where Asset Managers are readjusting their marketing strategies to take on the new digital age. The Financial Times recently produced a research report analysing the social media presence of banks and investment firms which outlined Deutsche Bank and Standard Life Investments as having a strong presence within this space. The results however seem to show a bias to banks due to their larger client remit. We expect that the results will impact the volume of digital roles in the buy-side space.
The topic of, “Man Vs Technology”, which concerns Asset Managers providing robo-advice for investors has received a contrasting reception. The demand for the automated online investment service is apparent, especially for retail investors. This ultimately poses as a more creative and innovative way for investors to invest. The online investment service has caught the eye of some of the world’s largest asset management firms such as Blackrock who recently bought FutureAdvisor, a US robo-adviser platform. Questions remain unanswered on how human advisers will adapt to the robo-advice service; however, critics have argued that the platform may not provide in depth or professional advice for investors.
Following on from last quarter’s discussion on exchange traded funds (ETFs), ETFs continue to make headlines for its success within the market. The ongoing news on the product is proving positive as evidenced by numerous investors taking an interest. Aberdeen Asset Management and Fidelity International have both expressed a commitment to increasing their presence within this space.
Another notable topic is the European Referendum. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming EU referendum, investors have become more sceptical about how and where they invest their money. Following on from this, several large investment institutions have planned to increase their exposure in emerging markets despite fears on the resilience of these economies.
Within marketing in particular candidates with digital expertise have been in high demand. Investment managers have been eager to increase their digital capacity and in turn internet footprint, thus prompting heavy recruitment in this space. We have observed a demand for both generalist digital marketers as well as very technical execution focussed digital marketers. Seniority of digital roles has been predominantly focussed on mid-level hires looking for candidates with 3-5 years of experience.
Another area that has shown high demand over the past quarter has been Investment Communications and Marketing Communications. The nature of roles within this space has varied depending upon the particular strategy of the company. Large asset managers typically have a propensity to distribute content either to retain existing investors or to attract new investment and uncover markets they have not typically operated within. This has driven a demand for roles either being of a Marketing Comms or of a thought leadership focus.
As a reaction to the changing landscape of the pension market the nature of investors in funds is observing a shift away form large institutional investors to lower ticket value, higher volume, and retail investors. This is leading to an increase in the demand of sales specialists with a focus on direct fund sales and sales through intermediaries. We have also observed the emergence of online as a channel of distribution, hiring for salespeople to market funds through direct contact with prospects over the internet is a trend we anticipate in Q2 2016.
The fluctuation in the markets has made the future for companies and recruiters alike somewhat more challenging; with lower revenues, pay cuts, redundancies and more stringent regulations being implemented, 2016 has provided some unwelcomed obstacles. A survey published by PwC of CEOs across the globe has identified that these issues, coupled with talent retention has led to only 34% believing their HR departments are well prepared for recruitment challenges ahead, and 93% admitting they need to adapt their talent management strategies.
The story that has dominated the headlines since Q2 last year has been the proposed referendum regarding the UK’s membership to the EU, and this has been no different in Q1 of 2016. It is now estimated that anywhere between 40%-50% of the population support the “BRExit”, with the likes of David Harding from Winton and Gina Miller from SCM Private, backing the departure. We will have to wait until the out come on the of the vote 23th June to fully understand the financial and legal repercussions of whether we leave the European Union, but in the meantime, Ireland is preparing for an influx of investors if fund houses are no longer able to sell their products to London.
FinTech has also been in the news over the past three months due to the increased development and capability within the financial markets. Coined by John Dizard in the Financial Times as an answer to the fallout from the Dodd Frank reforms, “roboadvice” services have become the must-have tool for companies as it allows for low-cost and easily accessible investment advice for the growing retail market. Such is the desire for this approach to become successful, one significant story in the FTFM highlights that MoneyFarm, an Italian Wealth Manager which has waived all fees for investors to promote this service. However this is not the only area of FinTech to be developed, with fund houses exploring software from Bitcoin and Snapchat amongst others to save or generate revenue flows. It is expected for more innovative and diverse approaches to investments will take the form of FinTech products and services.