Daniel Behar / 13 April
April Newsletter – 20/21 Roundup
Despite the struggles and the alternative ways of working that have arisen during the past year in the midst of the pandemic, recruitment remained steadily busy throughout. In Q1 we saw a dip in the number of new vacancies but from Q2 onwards, as our clients adapted to these unprecedented situations, we saw a spike in activity which culminated in one of our busiest and most successful Q4s in recent years. In this newsletter we’ll look back at some of the hiring trends in asset management over the past 12 months.
Over the past year the demand for ESG professionals has not slowed down despite wider pressures on the job market. ESG recruitment has continued to be by far the busiest area in the industry as many asset managers continue to increase their ESG capability. The demand for talent has predominantly been at the mid/senior level across various ESG functions including ESG research, integration and engagement. There has been a significant number of Sustainable/Impact focused funds launched over the last year as asset managers continue to tap into the rising demand amongst investors for these products. As a result, there has been an increased number of equity analysts joining these dedicated Sustainability-focused equity funds.
There has been steady demand for experienced fixed income professionals for both developed and emerging market strategies. A noticeable trend has been a surge in asset managers and hedge funds hiring Credit Analysts with experience covering High Yield and Leveraged Loan markets.
Hiring within Quantitative Analysts/Data Scientist roles has remained strong over the last year as asset managers and hedge funds continue to use machine learning to assist the active investment decision making process. Candidates with a Computer Science/Mathematical degree and expertise in Python have been particularly highly sought after.
Within the Investment space there has been a historical issue of it being a heavily white male dominated area. However, the last year has seen a significant push by many asset managers to improve ethnic minority and female representation amongst the Front Office functions. As a firm we are extremely passionate about helping asset managers create a more diverse workforce and over the last year have worked closely with many of our client to assist this.
2020-2021 was a challenging market with the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent slow-down in recruitment. Nonetheless, we have seen some key trends in Distribution over the past year. There has been an evident increase in roles in the alternatives space, as firms are building out their private markets and alternatives offering in line with client demand. We have also seen new headcount for Distribution candidates with ESG experience for specialist roles such as ESG Marketing Campaign Manager and ESG Content Writer.
On the Sales and Client Relationship side, firms have competed for candidates with European language skills, particularly German and Italian speakers. There was also a rise in Europe based roles in line with Brexit and the subsequent increased need for local Distribution offices.
In terms of Marketing, the focus was on more technical product and content marketing positions to upskill teams and the content produced for clients. Firms have continued to invest in Digital Marketing, particularly automation focused positions and new digital design and user experience roles. The RFP market has remained extremely buoyant, with an emphasis for experienced candidates, as well as applicants with fixed income product knowledge.
In the last quarter the market has really picked up. We experienced an increase in Distribution recruitment from October 2020 last year and this flowed into a busy start to 2021. A surge in hiring has led to competitive salary offers for in-demand skill sets and we expect this to continue.
The Product space has remained consistently buoyant throughout the last year. We have noticed that candidates with 4-6 years’ hybrid experience in Product Management and Product Development have been those most sought-after, whilst Product Governance – an area previously absorbed by other functions – has become established as a function of its own, perhaps thanks to the regulatory changes brought about by Brexit. Over the last year, there has been a shift towards legal candidates and those qualified as lawyers being hired to carry out senior roles within Product teams.
The FCA Assessment of Value rules which came into force in September 2019 has also resulted in a shift in skillset demand for Product professionals. Candidates who have led on Assessment of Value programmes (rather than simply being exposed to it) have been those most in demand over the last 6 months. Following on from this, as roles within Product become more project-centric, Product professionals with extensive experience in managing high-level projects from start to finish are setting themselves apart at interview stage.
With the industry as a whole seeing more firms focusing on the Alternatives space, we have seen an increase in Private Equity and Real Estate houses requiring Product candidates. By the same token, larger institutional houses with, for example, Real Asset offerings, have also requested Product candidates with Alternative backgrounds for roles from mid-senior level.
The Operations space has seen a shift towards more project and change-centric roles. As key players within the sector continue to go through mergers and acquisitions, Project and Change Managers have been called on to facilitate large scale operational transformations. The shift from office-based working to working from home has also created business change, resulting in an increased need for agile working. Project Managers with the Lean Six Sigma qualification have been sought-after throughout the Covid-19 period thanks to their ability to enable slick work-from-home set ups.
Performance continues to be a buoyant area of Operations. Following on from the above, candidates with the ability to automate performance reporting processes through strong data manipulation skills are in the highest demand for performance teams. Performance candidates with fixed income attribution experience have also been hugely sough-after this last year.
By contrast, other areas of the Operations space have not experienced the same buoyancy. The work from home set-up has proven that many support function roles are being done unnecessarily in expensive central London-based offices. As many Operations-focused roles are based on processing, it makes sense for businesses to outsource these functions to cheaper locations or to have these roles done 100% remotely. There has also been a move towards automating certain operational roles, such as client reporting which can now be done using innovative reporting software.