Investment & Middle Office

Wealth & Asset Management Market Commentary, Q4 2014

• Article by BRUIN Financial

Wealth & Asset Management Market Commentary, Q4 2014

Market Overview
Recruitment in the Asset Management industry has continued at a steady pace through out the quarter. Usually we start to see a dip in activity as we head towards the end of the year however we remained busy working on roles up to the Christmas break. We have also seen an increase in senior roles as resources within client facing roles have become stretched. It would appear there has been a gap between skills and experience at the mid level.

We have also seen an increase in roles that have historically required ‘like-for-like’ expertise, which are now requiring a broader knowledge base and stronger academics as departments are becoming more strategically aligned to their internal stakeholders. Fixed Income and Real Estate have been an area of focus for clients towards the second half of 2014.

Role Profiles
We have seen a number of roles in the product area split between the three core strands; management, development and strategy. There has been a lot of movement within the product development space, which has meant the salary bands we were working to at the beginning of 2014 were being tested in the second half of the year. The £65-75k mid level has been the most sought after level, however these people have often been difficult to source. There is a real shortage of candidates at this level, which has tended to be as these candidates have either moved into more senior roles in the last 12-18 months, or that they are on a strong development plan, but also product teams have been increasing headcounts across the asset management industry which would indicate a shortage of candidates at the junior level ready to step up. There is also still a demand for candidates with UCITs knowledge and European languages.

Client Reporting roles have been a constant feature over the Quarter and the last year and there continues to be a turnover of staff in these areas. There are a number of reasons for this. In the main the larger companies tend to streamline the reporting function to the extent that there is a lack of opportunity to be involved in other work. Long hours and continuous deadline driven workloads take their toll. In addition, reporting often leads onto other opportunities within firms. Reporting roles become much broader with the mid to smaller companies and as such, staff tend to stay in these roles much longer. We have also experienced a desire to hire people from a broader operations background aligned to good academics.

Performance has also continued to be a busy area for recruitment in 2014. Salaries have remained static ranging from £40,000 through to £80,000 for more senior candidates. Candidates at the lower end can be found with little performance experience so long as they have a good numerical degree. Fixed Income experience within performance continues to be the asset class in demand. Strong performance candidates with good servicing skills are very sought after as they have the technical capabilities to move into Fund Manager Assistant roles, Investment Liaison and Junior Product specialist positions. Therefore the challenge of finding good mid level performance candidates will not become any easier during 2015.

Client On-boarding and Client implementation roles continue to be a focus with clients. Historically these roles would have been part of a broader client service function but increasingly they are becoming a very specialised and dedicated function within asset management firms. Sourcing people for these roles has proved difficult. Institutional client servicing people from asset management are a good source, however they tend to lack the operational expertise, in reverse custody people are also good candidates but don’t have the IMA and client exposure from an investment perspective. Salaries range from £50-£65k at the mid-level depending on levels of experience and £70k plus for candidates managing on-boarding teams. These roles will continue to be a focus for clients during 2015 while markets are buoyant.

Senior client facing roles have also been prominent in the market place in particular product specialist roles within the fixed income space. Senior candidates are in demand as the levels of knowledge required are very much on a par with portfolio managers and as such becomes a narrow market at the top end. Salaries range between £80-£95k and £65-£75k at the mid level.

We saw a busy end to 2014 and we are sure that this will continue on into 2015. With bonus pay outs and promotion news filtering to the market, we are sure to see an increase in applications and a desire by candidates to look and see what other job opportunities exist within other firms. To support this we have seen a tenfold increase at the beginning of January in candidates coming to market, keen to explore new opportunities.

We have also seen more optimism during Q4 from smaller boutique asset managers who are planning to expand their businesses after successful periods of growth.