The demand for ESG experts has continued to grow from strength to strength and these candidates are desirable now more than ever. Despite the ambiguity and tensions globally caused by various reasons (from the COVID-19 pandemic to the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine), one thing has not changed thus far across Financial Services companies, and that is the attempt to achieve an impactful and sustainable plan for the future. Never has there been a better time to grow within the ESG field and get applying for opportunities that will allow you to grow within the field, particularly as every company is now moving towards a cleaner way of operating.
As we have noted in our previous market analysis, the number of ESG initiatives is still on the rise and a key area of demand seems to be responsible for investing Data – clients have been recruiting over the past months extensively for Data BA who can analyse large sets of data and centralise the data. Apart from ESG Data, general Data skills (Client, Reference or Market data to name a few) have been in high demand also, with clients looking to expand their data capabilities. Continuing to still be on top of the agenda are OMS transformations/implementations, agile technology transformations and target operating model design as well as process development and improvement. Recruitment within the Investment Banking sector has also been active, with clients looking to hire primarily BA’s with specific product knowledge across various markets such as Equities, Derivatives, and Commodities, as well as Technology awareness and Front Office experience.
From a candidate’s perspective, the market is still busy. However, we have noticed that a large number of candidates (more specifically the ones who have been serial contractors) are now enquiring about outside IR35 contracting positions, and have expressed a preference to remain in their current roles until next year due to the recent IR35 news. This might become a challenge, primarily for the permanent and FTC market.
There is still a high demand for talent within the Investment Banking & Asset Management space. Multiple technologies are in demand for these companies but Java/Python is where it takes off. During Covid and the period after, we saw working from home becoming the new norm. Civilisation has slowly gotten back to normal and hybrid/on-site roles did as well, however, after this period of home working people have noticed the enjoyable balance and the benefits of working from home. With that being said, companies have also noticed this and have accommodated these preferences. Moving forward, I can see a lot more roles moving to less than 3 days a week in the office and more flexibility.
The current climate has never been so high for us and that is something we can relate to with the buy and sell side companies. A difficulty I have found is matching the salary expectations of both candidate and client, the market is moving at such a fast pace with no help from the current economy, which creates an unbalance in what is expected. Companies have had no choice but to accept that the standard of candidate they are looking for will come at a slightly higher price than they originally thought. Although, clients of ours have made a huge and exciting push to more bespoke and greenfield work, scrapping third-party vendor tools, has been a great talking point.
With the news recently releasing the end of inside IR35 contracts, came a wave of contractors and permanent employees questioning where they stand, come April 2023. Outside IR35 contracting has always been a preference for contractors however they are now extremely difficult to find. If the general election goes Labour’s way next year and they keep to their word, inside IR35 contracting will remain, so there is still a lot of uncertainty. There are the obvious benefits to contracting monetary-wise, however, we’re seeing a lot more contractors moving to a permanent role due to stability and fear of having lengthy gaps or short stints on their CV.
Candidates have been keen to find out more about the interview process as one huge factor for them is not wasting their time, especially if the process is lengthy. They also have the benefit of being involved in multiple processes which is great money-wise, being able to pick out the best packages for their expectations as well as having the power to negotiate. On the other hand, we have seen candidates accept less due to the process being a lot smoother and getting back to them faster and showing an ongoing interest in the candidate. With this being said, moving fast has never been so key as clients are missing out on these top-tier candidates due to a mixture of market demand and their own pace.
The contract market remains buoyant with several opportunities available across the buy-side technology market within IR-35. However, within the last couple of weeks with new regulations announced for early next year, there is a level of uncertainty that can be felt on the candidate side. With the new IR-35 regulations set to change in April next year, candidates are being increasingly speculative with regards to making changes over from the permanent market. However, with the large investments made across the financial services market to bring contractors inside IR-35, I am doubtful whether we will see many industry changes, especially with Labour looking more likely to win the next general election and potentially reversing the new regulations.
Whereas there have been increasing contract opportunities, the Labour demand for contracts is decreasing given the lack of security with a recession looming. It is becoming common to see candidates not considering significantly higher-paying contract opportunities due to either economic uncertainty or wanting to wait until April to see how the new rules play out. The demand for technologists with experience working in front office roles, especially within electronic trading platforms, Foreign exchange and fixed income products remains high. In terms of which sectors and technologies have been popular, as expected there is a sustained demand for python, java and Net technologies. There is an increased demand for technologists with risk and governance experience, given increasing fines and penalties for non-compliant entities. I would say due to these factors, the market is still candidate-driven, with candidates being in multiple processes and being in strong positions to negotiate salary after an offer has been made.