2021 was a very busy year for the Investments and ESG team here at Bruin. The number of vacancies received in some months were 4 times the amount in 2020 and double the amount seen in 2019.
Demand in certain areas by far outstripped supply of candidates and where clients were looking to add a more diverse slate to their shortlists, this further compounded the supply problems that most firms faced.
Large salary increases were very much the norm throughout 2021 and in some instances we were seeing increases of up to 30% (even at the mid level) and for most roles from Q2 onwards, firms were having to address bonuses, long term incentives and total comp in order to attract candidates but also to retain people in their firms.
Flexibility was also a big factor to candidates in the middle of the year when firms thought that return to work was looking likely from summer onwards. Preference tended to vary over the level of the candidate, with junior candidates often being more keen to be in the office and senior candidates wanting more time working from home especially if they had more family commitments. In general candidates preferred a hybrid model and firms that could provide flexibility. Firms that were transparent about what their return to work model would look like in a post covid world seemed to do better at attracting candidates and also retaining staff as they were perceived to be more family friendly and also more accepting that the way in which the city “works” has fundamentally changed for good.
ESG continues to be a popular area however in Q4 2021 we noticed a large number of requests for climate change and environmental specialists. Given the announcement at COP26 combined with asset managers pledging towards net zero goals, the demand peaked for environmental experts. We have encouraged our clients to consider candidates from a consultancy basis or perhaps from an ESG data provider rather than relying solely on candidates with asset management experience. ESG will continue to change and shape the future of our industry and we welcome more roles in this space.
We took on a number of Equity Analyst positions in Q4, each with its on sector focus. Healthcare and TMT were the two more popular areas, however a few clients were keen to engage “generalist” equity analysts whom would be sector agnostic. The large majority of these roles were at the mid to senior level as clients were keen to employ experienced hires to support the portfolio managers. We are never short of an Equity Analyst hire and suspect more roles will emerge in Q1 2022.
Performance has continued to be a high volume area throughout most of 2021. We have seen a huge demand from our clients, with a specific demand for performance specialists at the junior to mid-level. Given the demand and the short supply of candidates, clients had to compromise on total compensation to ensure they were offering the best package. Both day rate packages and base salaries on a permanent basis were inflated by 20-30%, meaning asset managers had to offer an attractive package to win a candidate over. The demand for good performance candidates still exists today and we don’t anticipate this trend ending in 2022.
The market did not slow down at all over December and we expect this to continue into Q1 of 2022. As we get into February and bonus period time for many firms we will see a lot more movement in the market. Candidates have more confidence in moving and they realise that this is a good market for them. We have already seen candidates who have an idea of what their comp will be reaching out to ask about the market and looking to potentially move after their bonus.
Flexibility and work/life balance will continue to be a big factor for candidates when considering their next role. Clients that have more flexibility are more attractive to candidates in general.
As the market gets busier throughout the quarter it is even more important to have a quick and transparent interview process. The firms that have the most efficient hiring process with the best communication to candidates will have the best chance of hiring the top talent in the market.