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Where the Nordic jobs will and won’t be in 2010

Want to know where the jobs will and won’t be in the Nordics next year? Here’s our considered opinion…

2010 WILL BE A GOOD YEAR FOR JOBS AND HIRING IN….

International banks

Credit Suisse will be opening a Stockholm office later this year and is unlikely to be the only international bank targeting the Nordics during 2010, in the process creating openings and opportunities for local bankers with the right talents and contacts.

These are unlikely to be huge operations, and will probably be focused on areas such as transactional banking, trade finance and cash and relationship management, but nevertheless are likely to mark a significant step-change in the market, predicts Johan Wingren, Michael Page’s local banking and financial services manager.

“Everyone knows it is very important to have a local presence. Last year there was not the money to do it but there may be more flexibility financially this year and many banks have been carrying out worldwide reviews,” he says.

Risk, compliance and regulatory expertise

One of highlights of 2009, at least when it came to recruitment, was demand for risk, compliance and regulatory expertise, and this is unlikely to abate this year, given the continuing tough climate.

Nordea, for example, created a new European Affairs unit in September, while many banks last year looked to bolster their regulatory, compliance and even political expertise with hires from the Swedish finance ministry and financial services watchdog, points out Ola Pettersson, economist with the LO (Landsorganisationen I Sverige) trade union.

“Anything that has to do with compliance and risk management is going to be in demand, particularly at the top levels. There is still more regulation to come and banks need and want to understand what is happening,” he says.

Operational risk is another relatively new area that saw growth in 2009, which is likely to continue during 2010, adds Michael Page’s Wingren.

“People have been going through what their organisations look like and have realised for some
time now they need to reduce risk, of which operational risk is a big part,” he says.

Custody

The numbers hired are unlikely ever to be huge, but custody is a growing area in the Nordics, potentially, again, creating openings and demand for local talent.

Northern Trust, for example, opened its first custody office in Stockholm in September, while JP Morgan now has at least 10 staff in four out of the region’s five capitals and asset management firm BNY Mellon opened in Copenhagen in 2008.

“Against the tougher legislative and regulatory background, banks, insurance companies, distributed funds and pensions firms have all been recognising the importance of good quality administration and servicing,” says Mireille Andersson, who was appointed head of sales and business development at the Northern Trust office in the autumn, after roles as deputy CEO of a local brokerage firm plus time at SEB and Volvo, among others.

“The big global providers want people on the ground who have local knowledge, know their clients and understand the special characteristics of the Nordic market. There will be more opportunities for people to make the sort of transition I have made. It is a natural development.”

AND 2010 WILL BE A BAD YEAR FOR JOBS AND HIRING IN….

The Baltics and Eastern Europe
Things may be improving slowly, but don’t assume we’re completely through the redundancy cycle, argues ILO’s Pettersson.

“If there are going to be more redundancies I think they will happen in the first half of the year. It will then be better during the second half of the year,” he predicts.

Activity within the Baltics and Eastern Europe in particular is likely to remain depressed, he adds. “There will be less emphasis here for the foreseeable future. The banks have slowed down their activity in these markets quite a lot.”

Private banking

With money tight, even for the wealthy, and complicated financial products out of vogue, incomes were down an estimated 30-40% last year and what hiring did take place was highly selective, as evidenced by the move by Swedbank in May to poach veteran banker Lars Friberg from SEB to head its private banking operation.

While long term the fact many of Scandinavia’s leading business owners are ageing and with no natural heirs bodes well for private banking, 2010 is unlikely to be a red letter year either, argues Erik Svorin, managing director for Scandinavia of HSBC Private Bank.

“People who are well-positioned, with good contacts and good local knowledge will always be in demand. There will be hiring but it will be on a very selective basis. Anyone who has a good book or portfolio will be able to get a job, but people will be much more reluctant to do any expansive hiring,” he says.

IT services

“Jittery” is perhaps more accurate here than “bad” as, after a tough 2009 which saw consultancy rates squeezed and jobs being shed by some firms, the IT services markets is probably in for at the very least a nerve-jangling 12 months.

“There has definitely been a downward pressure on consulting rates and some consulting firms have faced difficulties. One manager I spoke to recently said more than half his consultants were not being utilised,” explains Jan Arpi, chief executive of Stockholm-based software technology vendor Cinnober.

While things should improve if the recovery is sustained, any sign of stagnation or, even worse, a double-dip recession could rapidly have a knock-on effect.

“If things continue as they are there will, I think, be some hiring and maybe even some expanding of teams. So in that sense I am optimistic. But there are still risks out there. Many companies are beginning to increase their investment budgets for IT projects, but things are still quite vulnerable. There is a risk demand could still go down.”

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