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How to land a London banking job now

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However unsettled the City of London has been by the result of last week’s referendum and whether or not banks move thousands of jobs overseas, finance hiring in London has not stopped. Surprisingly – or not – recruiters say their existing mandates still stand and that jobs are still being filled. But, if it was hard to find a new finance job in London before June 24th, it’s just become a lot, lot harder.

Hard doesn’t equate to impossible, though. We asked a selection of the City’s top headhunters and recruiters for their advice for anyone looking for a banking job this summer. This is what they said.

1. Look for the opportunities as some mainland Europeans leave London

Like it or not, James Findlay, head of risk and compliance recruiting at recruitment firm Selby Jennings said the referendum vote is likely to generate staff turnover. That turnover will generate opportunities.

“A lot of the European expats we speak to aren’t happy with the result to the referendum,” says Findlay. “Although London voted very strongly to remain, some people feel betrayed and this may be a catalyst in encouraging them to leave the City. A 35 year-old German couple who want their kids to grow up in a German-speaking environment are likely to leave London sooner than would otherwise have been the case.”

2. Look to the areas that will grow as a result of the Brexit vote 

While many business areas in investment banks are likely to suffer over the next six months, some will thrive.

“We’re about to have a Y2K situation for senior change managers,” says Andy Pringle at recruitment firm Circle Square. “Demand for operational review specialists is going to be big and demand for regulatory review specialists is going to be massive. The second half will be all about strategic review and banks will hire people who can support them in that,” he adds.

Expect big hiring at all the major consultancy firms, and at the consulting arms of the Big Four accountancy firms.  Pringle is also predicting heavy recruitment at restructuring boutiques, which were busy adding staff even before last Friday.

“Banks and consultancy firms will need to hire people now to work on regulatory change.” agrees Findlay.

If you want a front office job – in sales, trading or IBD – recruiters are unanimous that you should avoid big banks, most of which have hiring freezes. Instead, try hedge funds – some of which have done very well from recent volatility, along with buy-side firms and boutiques.

3. Be realistic about pay

With the pound down 11% against the dollar since Friday, it’s suddenly become a lot cheaper for US banks to hire staff in London. However, with City bankers some of the best paid in the world, an 11% drop in pay is unlikely to figure much in banks’ plans for cost cutting.

Instead, headhunters say candidates need a severe dose of realism on how much they can demand in a new role. “If you’re moving jobs now, you need to rein in your compensation expectations,” says the head of one search boutique. “Bonus pools in London are going to be marked down 30% to 50% this year and we’re already finding that candidates’ expectations are so far off this reality that it’s difficult to match them to what banks are willing to pay.”

4. Don’t hang about 

If you’re looking for a job now – particularly if you’re out of the market – you can’t afford to take the summer off and to only start searching in earnest in autumn. Come September and October, a whole new round of layoffs is forecast. 

“You need to get a move on,” says the partner at the search boutique. “By September, there might be another 20 people chasing each role.”

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