Six skills that will help you secure a job in sunny Australia

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Hiring activity in Australia gathering momentum

Australia doesn’t just provide warm weather and beachside lifestyles; its financial sector is slowly starting to crank out jobs again after a long southern summer slumber. Many jobs are driven by regulatory change and not growth, but a domestic talent shortage means employers are still hiring globally. Here are six sought-after skills that could land you a role Down Under.

1) IT architecture and project management

Competition among the Big Four Australian banks – Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac – in mobile banking is generating jobs for user-experience and user-interface IT professionals, particularly senior architects and project managers. “What is unique about this recent demand is that unlike in the past, when these functions were often outsourced to advertising and digital agencies, many banks are now looking to have them sit in-house,” says Jennifer Combe, IT manager, Morgan McKinley, the recruitment consultancy.

2) Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)

FATCA, an American law passed in 2010 which requires banks to disclose US assets in foreign accounts beginning this year, is helping drive an increased need for compliance professionals in Australia, says Andrew Hanson, director, financial services, Robert Walters in Sydney. Heads of compliance and project teams need to be in place this year to evaluate the potential impact of FATCA and develop plans to manage the risk of non-compliance, he adds. “Given that FATCA is largely unprecedented, firms are looking for candidates with prior regulatory-reform project experience and transferable change-management skills.”

3) Data analytics

Banks, consulting firms, insurance companies, and financial-planning firms are growing their internal data-analytics teams in a bid to sell statistical analysis to clients. “They need people who can be highly commercial both in how they analyse the data and how they communicate their findings,” says David Holden, associate director of search firm Emerald Group.

4) Compliance (on a contract)

Australia has always been a good destination for IT contractors, but recent months have witnessed the rise of a new breed: the compliance contractor. Wealth management firms are in particular need of them. They have smaller permanent compliance teams than banks, but are facing new regulatory standards, such as Strong Super, a series of government reforms to Australia’s superannuation (retirement savings) regime.

“These demands have created unprecedented change in the compliance employment market,” says Adam Forster, enterprise accounts director, Ethos Corporation, a recruitment firm based in Sydney and Melbourne. “We are seeing compliance professionals being engaged on short-term contracts as subject-matter experts. For example, those with substantial superannuation experience. They build specific compliance frameworks before moving to a new employer to repeat the exercise.”

5) Credit analysts and risk

Asian banks, including Sumitomo Mitsui, Nomura and Singapore's DBS, are attempting to get a foothold in Australian banking. “Such banks need to ensure a thorough oversight of Australian investments, in terms of asset-quality and robustness around compliance with required credit processes and policies,” says Jacob Smith, director of Sydney recruiters JS Careers. Demand for both credit-analysis and credit-risk professionals is growing in many Asian banks in Australia, he says.

6) Future of Financial Advice (FoFA)

FoFA, a major shake-up of retail financial advice in Australia, is increasing demand for experienced financial planners who can cut the mustard under the tough new laws which emphasise consumer rights. Jobs are also opening up as weaker performers quit the sector ahead of the regulations coming into force in July. FoFA moves the industry from commission-style remuneration to a fee-for-service model. “While some advisers have operated on this basis for a number of years, for many this is a change that will challenge them to be able to demonstrate the value they provide to clients,” says Sarah Wapling, principal, SFG Recruitment, Melbourne.

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