Michael Henning / 25 March

The M&A landscape today and what it means for recruitment

Volatility in the markets sparked first by the oil price war, and then the COVID-19 crisis can only strengthen the existing asset management merger and acquisition (M&A) industry trend.

This trend began with structural industry pressures from falling fees and changes in investor product preferences towards more passive products on the one hand and specialist boutique products on the other.

We’ve seen numerous examples over the last few years, including Aberdeen and Standard Life Investments, Federated/Hermes, Janus/Henderson, Jupiter/Merian (Old Mutual as was), Franklin Templeton/Legg Mason, and Liontrust/Neptune, to name just a few. We’ve also witnessed LGIM taking over Canvas in order to build ETF capability. Bucking the trend slightly Investec more recently spun off its asset management arm to become Ninety One Asset Management.

What this means for candidates

If you have spent any amount of time in the City, chances are you will have gone through the uncertainty. There is no glossing over that these events can be unpleasant for everyone involved, but there are some bright spots and opportunities for both job seekers and hiring managers.

First, we can continue to expect churn in the market, especially as the virus crisis continues to pan out. Usually newly merged entities will shed headcount in some areas while adding headcount in others.

Candidates should keep an open mind and keep an eye on available roles by staying close to their recruitment agencies. New roles and new types of roles are being created in a number of areas including:

  • Marketing: Marketing jobs regularly come up due to M&A and we are seeing new roles as a result of re-branding and revamping. For example, Hermes recently hired a new head of marketing and brand as a result of its merger.
  • Distribution: Newly merged entities often invest in sales and distribution resources, especially hiring more people with broader global experience.
  • Project management (processes and operations): Merger and integration activity is sparking an uptick in hiring expertise with projects related to operational integration, such as fund consolidation or restructuring.
  • IT project management and roles: Likewise, we are seeing a surge in IT full-time and contractor roles for candidates with expertise on merging or migrating systems.
  • Market intelligence and corporate strategy: Many firms are investing heavily in marketing intelligence and strategy roles, expanding headcount in those areas. These firms are researching the future landscape of the industry, alongside potential acquisitions, in order to adapt and thrive in the changing industry and product landscape.

Candidates with existing or transferable skills in these areas are currently in demand, with several interesting roles on offer.

Opportunities for hiring managers

Churn and uncertainty always increases the pool of candidates who are looking for roles or are open to an approach. Hiring managers thus have access to more talent coming onto the market, offering the chance to add skill and capacity where they need it.

However, in those demand areas highlighted above, you will need to move fast. Good candidates in those areas are still being taken off the market quickly. Looking past job titles into the underlying talents, skills and experience can reveal some real gem candidates looking to change career direction. A good recruitment agent can help you find those hidden gems.

Email us at info@masonblake.com with your thoughts, or for more information contact: Kelly.Liddle@masonblake.com

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