As we move into prime hiring season, which skills will banks be chasing most energetically this year? Who can be assured of finding a new job before the summer? And which recruits will be able to write their own cheques?
Actually, recruiters in London suggest no one will be hotly pursued by banks waving money this year – or at least, no one in the front office. “It’s going to be pretty flat in my opinion,” says the head of one capital markets-focused search boutique, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Look at what’s happening with banks – Barclays is in review mode, Deutsche is cutting, BAML is going for stability. The total new front office headcount that’s been signed-off so far at some banks is just five people – there’s no franchise building. It’s all very sniper-type hiring – a lot of selective upgrades.”
Markets recruiters are similarly subdued. “There’s optimism, but no plans for expansion,” says Kumaran Surenthirathas, head of front office at recruitment firm Eximius in London. “A lot of recruiters are jumping on the bandwagon and saying claiming they’re really busy, but there’s no real demand for risk taking traders. You have to remember that it’s only a few months ago that banks were laying people off.”
Nonetheless, London recruiters suggest three areas of dynamic recruitment for 2015. Some will already be known to you. Some won’t.
1. Regulatory policy or regulatory advisory professionals
"We’re expecting a lot of demand in the areas of regulatory policy and affairs," says Chad Lawson, associate director at recruitment firm Robert Walters.
Needless to say, these so-called 'regulatory advisory professionals' are needed by banks in order to adapt to new regulations. They've always existed, but Lawson says banks used to hire them in as required. "These jobs were previously outsourced to consultants," he tells us. "Now they're increasingly being brought in-house."
Banks are hunting for these new regulatory advisors in consultancies, legal firms and niche consulting firms. Working for investment banks, Lawson says experienced people can expect a basic of 160k (GBP), plus a bonus of up to 40%.
2. Junior M&A bankers
2014 was the year of the junior M&A banker. By all accounts, 2015 will be too.
"It's going to be more of the same," says the director of one M&A search firm, speaking anonymously. "You'll see a lot of junior hiring with some senior hiring in the same old sectors - healthcare, TMT, UK, and consumer and retail."
Nonetheless, he says most of the hiring is replacement rather than expansion. "The reason there's so much demand for juniors is that they're leaving the industry. It's all replacement hiring."
Banks like Goldman Sachs, which used to pay analyst bonuses in the summer, now pay junior bankers along with the rest of their staff in January. This could trigger a rush of analyst resignations - and recruitment in the weeks to come.
3. Governance professionals
What of the rush of compliance hiring? With banks like Citi, HSBC, JPMorgan and Deutsche all focused on strengthening their control functions, compliance professionals will surely be top of the hiring list in the year to come?
Yes, and no. Lawson predicts this year's compliance recruits will be different to last year's. “Last year was very much about hiring to deal with ‘first line issues’ like financial crime. This year will be much more about hiring for ‘second line functions’ that can check and review last year’s new hires," he says. "For example, we’re expecting much more emphasis on checking and reviewing across all business functions which will be reflected in hiring for operational risk and audit professionals. 2015 is going to be all about making sure processes are in place and governance is working."