Hiring is expected to moderately pick up on Wall Street in 2014, although some sectors will be adding much more talent than others. If you are looking for a role where demand is nearly outpacing supply, the back office may be a good place to start. These should be the three hottest financial roles in 2014 and beyond.
The obvious name of the bunch, but one certainly worth mentioning. The influx of new regulations has bulge bracket investment banks, retail banks, private banks and asset management firms thirsty for qualified compliance staffers.
“With clients we’re talking to, compliance will still be on the top of their mind in 2014,” said Neil Owen, practice director at Robert Half Financial Services. However, due to the nature of the work, most banks in the public eye are looking only for people with several years of experience in the field.
“We’ve had a number of people tell us there may not be enough talent to fill demands that are out there, so there is an absolute battle to hire people with the required skill sets,” Owen said. Strangely enough, recruiters haven’t seen a huge upswing in salaries, despite the competition for talent. Eventually, once all the new regulations are in place, banks are expected to launch their own internal training programs to foster more home-grown compliance talent, Owen said.
While most every bank is growing its compliance team, some are more aggressive than others. J.P. Morgan recently announced plans to commit 5,000 people to its risk and compliance department; HSBC expects to add roughly 1,600. Royal Bank of Scotland is hiring too, as are hedge funds that are now spending as much as 10% of its operating costs on compliance.
Anti-money laundering specialists are in particular demand, according to Owen. Banks are on the lookout for qualified investigators and auditors who can beef up AML/KYC programs.
Those who find work as an anti-money laundering specialist tend to have a legal background. Earning a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) credential can also go a long way to opening doors.
If you don’t have experience in compliance but want to work in the field, the best route is often starting on the other side of the fence at a regulator. Operations staffers can also earn applicable experience that can help with the transition to compliance.
With added scrutiny from lawmakers, big banks are being forced to micro manage their third party vendors and outsourcers, said Anne Crowley, managing director at Jay Gaines and Company. The end result is a burgeoning need for staffers who can oversee the relationship and double-check the math.
“Vendor management can include validating numbers through shadow accounting or reconciling the input of multiple providers,” she said. These people work with securities processing and investment accounting services, like State Street, BNY Mellon and Northern Trust, as well as accounting and even IT firms, Crowley added. “Also, data privacy, access and information security management related to working with third parties are also high priorities and areas of investment and hiring,” she said.
Meanwhile, other firms have scrapped their relationships with vendors all together, particularly over the last year as the market has improved and the financial need for outsourcing has waned.
“With the markets recently rebounding and seeing strong returns, we've seen funds increase AUM and have more of an appetite to in-house some of the roles that had previously been outsourced, such as corporate actions, reconciliations and documentation,” said Brandon Doohan, partner at Dynamics Associates.
The need for these back office workers is still “nowhere near where it was pre-2008”, Doohan said, but the market has improved incrementally over the “last few months.”
Basel III and other new regulations have created a need for operations staffers who can help with disclosures and capital reporting, like assessing a bank’s risk-weighted assets, said Owen. Also, with banks looking to minimize risk, more effort is being put into transaction reporting.
“In New York, we are seeing institutions need support in capital planning, liquidity stress testing and regulatory policy functions,” he said. “Within capital planning and stress testing, candidates who have experience with CCAR and ICAAP reporting, an understanding of the Basel III requirements, and/or a strong background in risk management will all be sought after.
“In London, we are seeing a strong demand for regulatory reporting candidates,” he continued. “Often from an accounting background, ACA qualified, experience with implementing COREP, exposure to BIPRU or GENPRU, understanding FSA reporting schedules and having been involved with the new capital requirement regime will be experiences that will ensure you are sought after.”
Pay for these operations staffers tends to fall in line with professional accountants or operations analysts, with potentially a slight premium due to the sheer number of projects they work on.