Times have changed. Forget the notion that there are tens of thousands of frustrated ex-finance professionals futilely seeking re-employment. That's passé. 2013 has, in fact, been a year in which new finance jobs have far outnumbered new finance candidates. Anyone looking for a finance job now, should be able to find one very easily...
At least, that's the theory.
Recruitment firm Morgan McKinley estimates that there have been 66,906 new finance jobs released onto the London market so far this year. Over the same period, they estimate that 53,701 new financial services job seekers declared their availability for work in London. That makes a shortfall of 13,205 finance job seekers vs finance jobs. If you work in the City, the war for talent seems to be back.
"There's still a shortage of people who are willing to make that bold move of looking for a new job," says Hakan Enver, operations director at Morgan McKinley London. "People think their job security lies in their existing job."
Where are these serious talent shortages? Enver says advisory compliance roles are the thing right now: “There has been strong demand for advisory compliance professionals over the first nine months of the year and this trend is showing no signs of slowing down as we head towards Christmas."
Alex Stimpson, a compliance recruiter at Robert Walters, agrees that compliance advisory consultants are a like platinum dust. Most banks are keen to strengthen their compliance consulting functions and are very specific about who they want to hire, said Stimpson. As the compliance 'front line' on banks' trading floors, compliance advisors need excellent knowledge of regulation and an ability to face-off aggressive traders. "It's a very difficult combination of skills to find," says Stimpson. "These people get a lot of approaches from recruiters."
Top compliance advisory consultants can earn salaries of £200k, plus bonuses of 50%. But while they may be at the front line of the London finance talent war, but they don't explain the 13,000 person shortfall identified by Morgan McKinley - Stimpson says big banks only employ around 10 such compliance consultants each.
So, where else is the new war for talent erupting? Tom Stoddart, associate director at recruitment firm Eximius Finance, says a lot of finance and infrastructure roles are also experiencing talent shortages. "The London market cut headcount after moving people offshore. Those people have disappeared and the talent pool here is now a lot leaner.
Salaries are being bid up across infrastructure and finance, adds Stoddart. "Good candidates are being bought back by their existing employers. Brilliant people are very well looked after."
If it all sounds a little reminiscent of 1999 and 2000 or 2006 and early 2007, it is. The difference, however, is that then banks were fighting over front office people who could boost revenues. Now they're fighting over back and middle office people who can help mitigate increased regulatory costs. From a growth perspective, hiring is happening for the wrong reasons. Aspersions have also been cast over the accuracy of Morgan McKinley's estimates. "A 13,000 candidate shortage sounds very, very high," says one rival recruiter, "Are you sure that's right?"