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The ten most in-demand banking skills right now

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Which banking skill sets are most in demand at this juncture of 2014? This is what we’re seeing across our key markets.

1. Commodities sales and trading: especially Mandarin language skills and Chinese work experience

Following poor market conditions for the past few years, we are starting to see a real uplift in recruitment activity from some of the Canadian and Chinese banks and emerging markets trading houses. Mandarin language skills and any Chinese work experience is in high demand in London and Asia, particularly when combined with experience of hands on working within a commercial environment and an active list of clients.

Physical or Asset Backed Trading/ Sales experience is also in demand. Some products in particular demand are BioMass, Renewables and LNG.

However, increased regulation has led to considerable culls across the physical teams within the major US and European banks.

2. Compliance: especially experienced and senior compliance staff 

With the onset of increased regulation within buy side firms, there is a significant demand for experienced and senior compliance professionals. Roles focussing on anti money laundering or counter terrorism financing, have become well-paid and highly attractive to those looking for a challenge and variety. Employers have to look further afield for talent and there is a shift towards candidates with backgrounds in Intelligence and Technology

Compliance now attracts individuals from other areas of the industry than was typically the case. Candidates now come from the front office, and risk is seen as a good entry point for newly-qualified ACA, ACCA, CFA applicants.

3. Economics and strategy: especially emerging markets country specialists at associate level 

In the economics and strategy space, we’ve seen an increase in the demand for emerging market country specialists at associate level, typically with local language skills.

Most companies are now looking for a combination of experience within the influential central banks (typically with existing credibility and strong network) as well as an understanding of the econometrics behind the business.

By comparison, there’s been a significant drop-off of client strategy roles, whilst pure research roles are virtually non-existent.

4. Financial technology: everyone wants Python skills, permanent C# roles are increasing

The demand for Python skills is as competitive as ever. Over recent years the banks have been the major players competing for Python skills, however we are now seeing smaller trading houses and boutiques competing and using Python as their language of choice.

C# is another product that remains in demand. Traditionally this has been a contract driven market in London, however we are seeing a big shift to permanent opportunities available.

The need for hardware experts (FPGA/ VHDL) is becoming more prevalent as organisations look to develop their own proprietary hardware to gain competitive advantage.

With the growth in Algo/ Electronic trading in Asia, we are starting to experience a skills drain to the East. More candidates are starting to consider relocating as an option.

5. Fixed income: Structured funding solutions jobs at smaller houses, flow FX sales

In fixed income, much of the demand we have seen remains in the flow space, particularly emerging market flow sales and trading. There are pockets of activity in the fixed income solution space generally from boutique or emerging names who are offering structured funding solutions to clients, whereas, many major players are unable to do so due to increasing balance sheet/ regulatory constraints.

January has seen a flurry of activity in the Flow FX Sales space at senior level. A number of organisations have been looking for senior producers providing solutions for the UK Mid Cap market.

6. Hedge funds and private equity: Senior credit professionals 

Following a number of years of predominantly recruiting individuals at the analyst to VP level, we are starting to see a real interest in senior level candidates that can bring new ideas and innovation to their clients based on their previous experience within this market. Senior professionals with over 15 years’ experience in alternative investment strategies in credit are in high demand including professional with illiquid, debt and direct lending knowledge.

7. Investment banking: Very strong demand for senior analysts and associates in M&A  

The demand for strong senior analysts and associate at levels one and two remains high. In particular, banks are interested in those with a proven track record of transactions and foreign languages.

TMT, consumer and infrastructure teams have had a strong start to 2014 and are recruiting at mid-level to senior-level. The leading UK banks and European banks are letting staff go or struggling to retain the best ones.

8. Quants: Resurgent demand for quants with experience of structured derivatives or exotic products

We are experiencing a demand for quants with experience of structured derivatives or exotic products for the first time in a number of years. This supports the current increased appetite for taking risk in the market.

At the same time, demand for quants in advisory roles is significantly increasing from the data analytics houses such as Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and Markit. Expansion of this industry will continue to put strains on the demand for talent.

9. Electronic trading: ‘Alpha generation’ skills wanted, especially in the U.S.

There is a considerable focus on the build-up of Electronic Trading (AMM) platforms. We are seeing a real interest in more senior candidates coming from the buy side, hedge funds and prop trading houses to drive and implement these new platforms.

Recovery in the quant equity space is being led by the US. There has been a shift towards a more ‘alpha generator’, as opposed to a statisticians skillset. And as modelling starts to incorporate more of a strategic outcome, the demand for pure modelling skills is falling. This is driving a preference for PhD qualified candidates, as opposed to those with an MSc.

10. Risk management: Big demand from the buy side

We have experienced a significant upturn in risk-related recruitment activity in January, with an almost record number of interviews being scheduled.  The majority of roles being approved are new roles, not replacement hires.

We have seen increased hiring within the funds market, in particular within equities funds which can be seen to signify an improvement in market confidence.

Credit Risk Analysts are in high demand and short supply, particularly with a corporate or financial institutions focus. A lot of these roles were re-aligned or cut over the past few years but are now required as the market becomes more buoyant.

Miles Stribbling is Director of Strategic Partnerships, at recruitment company Selby Jennings. 

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