2006: Good year vs bad year

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What was hot and what was not in the Australian financial services industry over the past twelve months? Here's our considered opinion.

Good Year

Private Equity:

This has been the year of the mega-deal in private equity, with seven AU$1bn plus transactions, topped off with the AU$11bn bid for Qantas. Big overseas funds such as KKR, CCMP, and TPG all set-up shop in Australia, while smaller Australian funds such as PEP, Archer Capital, Ironbridge and Champ set records in fund raising. Recruiters reported plenty of jobs as a result. Just don't expect to walk into a private equity role: hirers here remain notoriously choosy.

Analysts:

A surging stock market, the growing influence of private equity fund, and a host of new hedge fund outfits has created a premium for good equities analysts. "There is still a big gap in the market," says Adam Kolokotsas of Tanner Menzies. "If they have a good one, investment banks are moving heaven or earth to keep them."

Accountants:

Bean counters were flavour of the year. Strong M&A activity and increased compliance spurred demand for accountants in all their permutations, but most particularly at the junior level where training cutbacks in 2002 and 2003 are only now hitting the market. Perth was hottest of all: thanks to the resources boom it now rivals Sydney as the city with the best pay - and highest priced real estate - in the country.

Bad year

Generation Y:

Talent shortages should have made life a dream for the younger generation. But the perceived "flightiness" of generation Y employees has caused some employers to turn their backs, making life tough for some young graduates. Matthew Gowan, a senior manager at Hays Banking, says young people need to somehow prove they are a "stayer" and many firms favour a few grey hairs: "They just want to get someone on board who knows what they are doing and who is reliable."

Bad companies:

The talent shortage turned the tables on many employers - be they accounting firms, investment banks or funds managers - who now find they have to court experienced candidates rather than the other way round. Those without a good employer brand are finding it hard to attract good people. "Organisations that don't have a good message in market place have been struggling," says Debbie Loveridge, managing director of Select Australasia. "It's not about being in the right sector or segment, you need to be an employer of choice."

Hedge Funds:

Their numbers have grown dramatically in the past two years, both in terms of new funds and in money under management, but their performance in a year of strong market growth and record M&A activity has been overtaken in many instances by plain vanilla investment funds. Trustees are showing some reluctance to push new money into this alternative asset class. Job growth has slowed as a result.

eFinancialCareers' editorial team will now be taking a festive break before returning in the New Year. A very Merry Christmas to all our readers.

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