The second quarter of 2014 has continued to be buoyant, with recruitment levels rapidly rising in line with the European economic recovery and the rise in the UK’s GDP. Whilst small to mid sized Asset Managers have continued their recruitment drive from Q1, larger Asset Management firms have had their budgets signed off in February/March thus have had a considerable push on attracting and retaining talent. Furthermore, we have also seen a clear shift towards a more candidate driven market where it is not unusual for candidates to receive several offers and counter offers form their current employers.
Across the board in both Sales and Marketing, there has been an overall push on increasing team sizes, as opposed to just hiring replacement roles. We have seen a lot of movement, particularly at the Head of level and we predict this will have an impact on restructuring and hiring in teams for the rest of 2014.
In addition to overall growth, we are seeing several Asset Management houses continuing to grow their presence in mainland Europe. Whilst in the past this trend has been for companies to focus on Northern Europe, we are seeing an increased demand for professionals with wholesale and retail experience selling or marketing to Southern and Central Europe.
Whilst the trend of investor’s appetite being fixated on global equities continues, alternative investment firms have faced difficulties as they have delivered some of their worst returns since the financial crisis, amid rising concerns over stretched equity market valuations and signs of rising geopolitical tension. This also appears to be triggered by tougher regulatory and marketing requirements under the Alternative Investment Fund Manager directive by which sources of capital in Europe are increasingly hard to access. Consequently many of the groups have scaled up their US operations, which may have an effect on the European economy in the long term.
Whereas compliance and accounting regulations are continuously becoming stricter and more complicated, investors still seem to be embracing the high risk- high return investment strategies. Furthermore, new accounting standards have been published by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to stop financial statements presenting an inaccurate, rosy image of a lender’s finances. This has been announced in hope of enhancing investor confidence in banks’ balance sheets and the financial system as a whole.
Furthermore, the planned ban on rebates to IFAs outlined in the Financial Instruments Directive might put the so-called open architecture distribution model in serious jeopardy. The risk there is that people with only modest savings will no longer have access to wider selection of investment funds. These and other similar regulations will surely have an impact, both positively and negatively, on hiring in the second half of 2014.
Lastly, an interesting fact has arisen in regards to industry salary levels – whilst the global profitability of the Asset management industry has surged back above its pre-financial crisis peak, the Office of National Statistics figures (outlined in the FT on the 14th of July) show that the average salary in the UK’s investment management industry has fallen by 20.3 % in the past year. Our findings, however, contradict this as they show an average uplift of 18% in Q1 and 16% in Q2.
Throughout the first six months of 2014, we have seen a continued need for asset managers to recruit for most sales and marketing roles at all levels. Investment Writing roles have been extremely popular and whilst generally speaking equity is in high demand for most marketing roles, in relation to Investment Writing roles, it is fixed income experience that is particularly sought after.
In addition to Investment Writing roles, we have also seen more of a push towards product marketing and content roles as Asset Managers try to differentiate themselves and gain more ‘cut through’, particularly in the retail market. Candidates required for these roles have a different writing skill set to traditional ‘thought leadership’ writers and have been more of a challenge to source.
The requirement for senior marketing communications candidates with European Distribution/Wholesale experience has continued throughout Q2, as we saw in Q1. Several houses are increasing their presence in Europe and whilst the emphasis includes Institutional as a channel focus, Distribution channel experience has taken over as preferred experience.
Within Sales, UK Intermediary Sales roles continue to be the most buoyant area from supporting roles through to Director level. The core difference with these roles now, compared to 2013, is the flexibility with candidate profiles, particularly at the junior level. Asset Management companies have been more flexible with the experience of candidates at a junior level and have been hiring juniors based more on their ability and attitude, as opposed to previous experience.
An ongoing need for RFP writers, predominantly in the Institutional space has also continued in Q2. The majority of these hires have been from analyst to VP level and there has also been some movement at the Team Manager level. Salaries for these individuals continue to rise and senior RFP writers, with no managerial responsibility, can now command £65,000.
Lastly, the need for Digital specialists also continues with a number of companies looking outside of the Asset Management space, to gain a broader digital skill set. Social Media continues to be an important element of most digital roles and candidates with experience of implementing companies Social Media strategy are in high demand.
Q1 and Q2 2104 have very much mirrored Q4 of 2013, in terms of competition driving basic salaries higher with candidates interviewing across multiple opportunities.
Bonus figures have been mixed across the board. That being said we have seen some great performances from sales teams within a number of the mid sized houses. This has given firms the opportunity to not only pay out exceptional bonuses for star performers, but for the first time in a long time, we have seen a number of firms expanding their sales function.
We have seen some increases in salaries by current employers throughout Q2 with a number of reviews being very positive. Although this shows commitment to those that have performed well, a number of candidates have opened up searches or continued searching on the back of their reviews and are prospering from the competitive nature of the job market at the moment. Average salaries for candidates who move on have been interesting, with average uplifts coming in at 16%.
Similar to the more positive upturn in the economy the recruitment market is definitely on the up. We expect to see firms continue to obtain sign off for further head count going into Q3 and Q4 of this year.
In terms of roles, we expect to see a further steady increase on mid level hires with a focus on sales support and general sales roles requiring fluency in an additional European language, German and Swedish remaining particularly prominent due to further expansion into German, Swiss and Nordic markets.
We also predict that Marketing will remain particularly busy over Q3 as firms continue expanding existing teams and up-skilling in certain functions with Digital Marketing being an ever present area due to the focus on social media and web management.
Overall, as the market improves, there is no indication at present that volumes will decrease in Q3 and there are still a number of extremely attractive roles out there.