Last year was very busy for recruitment across all areas including Middle Office and Operations and Q4 was no exception, the market didn’t slow down with many clients continuing to hire right until the end of the year. We saw a huge increase on hiring compared to 2020, which was to be expected with the pandemic, but also a significant increase on 2019.


It is very much a candidate’s market and this means that it is critical that employers act fast.  We have seen far too many disappointments for our clients where the time taken to review a CV or go through the interview process has taken longer than competitors and they have missed out on top talent.  The market is buoyant and those that respond quickly, have the first pick of the crop.


We have seen larger increases in salary for candidates moving this year, especially in key areas of growth. The best candidates would often have multiple offers or counter offers from their current firm causing this increase in salary. We also saw during Q4 some firms willing to pay out a sign on to compensate candidates who were moving just before bonus time at their current firm.


Flexibility was also a big factor to candidates as different companies had different return to the office schemes and plans going forward. 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.


Role Profiles

Key areas within Middle Office and Operations where we have seen growth are Data Governance, Regulatory Reporting and ESG data. Asset Managers have grown their data governance areas significantly and some have created a specialist ESG data teams to help support more of a focus on ESG investing. We have also seen many Asset Managers growing their regulatory reporting teams in London


A particular focus on data is emerging.  Not only in terms of providing clean data or aligning data with ESG strategy, but really putting it front and centre of a client’s offering and capability – in some case putting as much importance on data as they do on asset holdings or investment strategy.


Regulatory reporting has always been a busy area for Middle Office and Operations recruitment and it continues to be an area in high demand. Asset Management clients have often looked at candidates from the banking side. Asset Management Regulatory Reporting roles tend to be wider roles covering more regulations than roles on the banking side, so if Asset Managers were willing to look at candidates who were SMEs in particular regs and learn on others this helped them hire top talent from the Banks.


We have also seen a lot of roles across Middle Office and Operations looking for alternative investment experience, with Private Equity and Private Credit experience being highly sought after.


There also continued to be a demand for candidate with strong tech skills to help on projects and process improvements. Candidates with good VBA and SQL knowledge were in high demand and could demand higher compensation.


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.