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J-banks give hiring hope to asset management sector

Citigroup has agreed to offload its Japanese fund management business, Nikko Asset Management, to Sumitomo Trust & Banking in a move that highlights both Citi’s continued woes and the increasing importance J-banks seem to be placing on investment products.

But does increased importance mean increased asset management job opportunities?

Junko Kannami, a managing consultant at Morgan McKinley, says asset management recruitment is slowly picking up and a number of firms have started to recruit within product planning, marketing and sales.

“Demand is predominantly for associate to AVP/VP-level professionals. However, there have been some junior-level roles coming onto the market of late,” she adds.

David Swan, director of financial services at Robert Walters, says he has seen roles in client services, trading, asset allocation, HR, compliance, risk, and fund processing, but very few firms are actually adding headcount. “Most of the hiring that is going on is more related to replacements or upgrades,” he says.

When it comes to coughing up cash, Kannami says a few firms have cut basic salaries, but reductions remain the exception rather than the norm.

“Generally, basic salaries for professionals working within asset management have remained steady. Given the increased talent pool and tough competition between candidates for the available jobs, employers are able to attract high-calibre professionals without having to offer inflated salaries,” she says.

Swan too says base salaries have remained fairly static, with most people moving between jobs receiving small pay increases of often just a couple of percentage points.

But what about bonuses? “Indications we have received from the market thus far are that the majority of people are expecting a bonus for this year, but there seems to be little consensus on levels,” he adds.

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