Having a ball with counterparty credit risk

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In risky times, it's hardly surprising that financial institutions are going to town on risk specialists - particularly counterparty risk analysts who can help them ascertain whether the hedge funds and other clients they're doing business with are liable to go under.

"There has been increased interest but it's been hard to get really good people in the counterparty space," confirms Luke Heath, managing director of Chandler Heath.

One player said to be keenly scouting for risk specialists is GE Money.

"GE would hire 20 or 30 of these people if it could find them tomorrow, and they have been looking for three to six months," says David Rolleston of Robert Walters. "They're hard to find, and Melbourne doesn't really have a massive portfolio of credit risk candidates in comparison with the Sydney marketplace."

Melissa Tal of Michael Page says demand in counterparty credit risk has been "consistent", but that the big banks have been placing a higher value on individuals with longer-term experience, such as those who worked through the last major down-cycle in the early 1990s.

"Good candidates are hard to come by, even in this market," Tal notes. "There's still a skills shortage as there's not much movement in the top end of the market."

Rolleston says the main increase in recent times has been in the document checking areas of the large retail banks, due to impending changes in the regulatory environment.

"It's not only in the risk assessment side, it's coming down the compliance side," he adds. "The big four retail banks are looking to make sure their compliance levels are at the maximum."

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