We have seen in Q3 of this year a strong post covid recovery within financial services. As restrictions have eased and many firms are able to operate close to ‘business as usual’ we have seen a strong recruitment drive within the sales and marketing function. Within the asset management and the wider financial services industry, in both newly developed roles and backfilling positions for employees who have left to join another house. This has created, in this quarter, a very candidate led market. Strong and experienced candidates in their active job search are being hired very quickly, often being involved in multiple processes at once. We have seen that firms with fewer interview stages (often with three conversations or less) are more successful in getting the candidates they want, as this allows them to move on top talent quickly even if they are in the midst of longer, more protracted recruitment processes.
Within the financial services industry, we have seen a strong investment in digital marketing and technology this quarter as a result of COVID which has increased the usage of online platforms and services. This has led to a noticeable increase of digital positions, often with whole teams being created from scratch. Financial services are becoming more digitally accessible and the firms who proactively invest in this field will be more competitive in the future.
Another noticeable change in the market in the last quarter, as a result of the COVID pandemic, is the change in candidate perception on shorter term contracts (<12 months). Many candidates who have worked within contract roles for a significant amount of time have indicated to us their preference for permanent opportunities, even if the contract position offers better compensation. The two main factors for this are the changes to IR35 and the COVID pandemic illustrating the lack of support available and instability stemming from contract positions in the event of a nationwide change such as the pandemic.
Movers and Shakers
Wholesale distribution has seen a couple of high profile moves in the past 3 months. The first being in September when Rob Hall stood down as Director of UK Wholesale Sales for Natixis Investment Managers
after 11 years in the firm, to join PGIM Investments as Head of UK Wholesale. Mirabaud Asset Management has also strengthened its relationship management capabilities through the addition of Benjamin Carter as Head of UK Wholesale to aid other key hires across the business in expanding their ESG offering.
In late September, GAM Investments appointed Mary Murphy into the newly created position of Head of Consultant Relations, with responsibility to build strategic relationships with both global and UK consultants. Mary joins the business from BlackRock where she lead some of the largest strategic investment consultant relationships during her tenure there.
On the marketing side, Savills Investment Management brought Michelle Sartorio to the business as Global Head of Marketing and Communications, to contribute to the firms ESG strategy in both real estate equity and debt strategies. Continuing along the ESG theme, Ambienta (a Milan headquartered sustainability investment manager) hired Fabia Bernacchi as Head of Marketing & Communications. She brings over 15 years marketing experience from a wide range of financial and professional services firms.
Throughout this quarter, we have seen sustained, high demand for roles within the RFP function – from junior to senior levels. Alongside the RFP roles focusing on more traditional asset classes, we have seen an a big focus on RFP recruitment within the alternative investment sector, most notably within private equity and real estate. We believe this is due to the to the increased economic activity throughout this quarter, off the back of significant distribution team hiring in Q3 and Q4 of last year.
As companies within the asset management industry adapt to a hybrid working model, there has been a noticeable focus on recruitment for internal communications professionals. We believe this is to help foster and implement effective internal communications structures which would support employees and business operations both in the office and at home. Historically this type of position has not been a focus within asset management, it’s encouraging to see dedicated roles for this function within investment management.
As previously mentioned, digital roles continue to be a focus for firms, as the pandemic further highlighted the need to have user friendly and well developed websites/digital products. As such, we have seen increased hiring for UX/UI, digital product and database management positions. This is especially true for many large asset managers we work with, some of which are looking to create entire digital teams from scratch to expand their digital offering.
From our conversations with our clients and candidates and understanding of companies hiring plans for the remainder of the year, we expect the market to continue to be candidate led. This is due to the continued need for firms to expand their teams before the end of the year, or replace talent that has left. The closer we approach the end of the year, the more candidates may be reluctant to leave their positions and forgo their bonuses.
Lots of our clients either have already or are planning to implement a flexible working policy to varying degrees. From a candidate perspective, flexible working will continue to be a key demand and an important consideration in whether to pursue positions as they look to either move company, or stay in the role they are already in. Further data can be discussed with our consultants using data from our PROBE tool which is a survey that gauges candidates motivations when actively looking for new job opportunities.
Businesses that adapt their hiring process to work in the new working environment, whether that’s bringing talent into the business quicker through a more streamlined interview process by conducting processes in less stages or the stages within a shorter timeframe, or by utilizing a mix of both in person and online interviews will attract and increase the possibility of hiring top talent. In Q4 we expect to see a more hybrid approach to the interview process, as hiring managers look to establish personal connections with the candidates they interview. However we believe this to be very dependent on role and requirements. The appetite for hosting more in person interviews will also continue to be affected by government policy and public perception of the safety in hosting these in person interviews in the COVID world.