With Britain plunged into a period of uncertainty following last week’s general election, has hiring in the City been put on hold? Absolutely not, say London’s finance recruiters, most of whom seem surprisingly bullish.
“There’s loads going on,” says Richard Hoar, director at recruitment firm Goodman Masson. “I haven’t seen any real impact of the general election with regards to hiring. – We’re worked off our feet! Banks are calling up and giving us work. There’s a lot of associate level hiring across both markets and investment banking divisions (IBD). We’re much busier than last year.”
Hoar isn’t the only optimist in City of London recruitment circles. Despite last week’s claim by recruitment firm Morgan McKinley that newly available finance jobs fell 11% in May compared to the previous year, a partner at an IBD-focused search firm says May and June have been, “very fast,” for hiring. Although he says there have been no, “big hires at managing director level,” this has been more than compensated by a surge in recruitment at associate level. “We’ve seen a lot of juniors going into private equity this year and banks are having to fill those holes,” he adds, speaking off the record.
Fixed income headhunters are equally ebullient. Most banks had a strong first quarter in rates and credit and one senior fixed income search consultant, speaking on condition of anonymity, says this has set off a process of musical chairs. “Teams were just so lean that any bank that’s lost someone has been compelled to replace them pretty fast. Because of this, we’ve worked on 50% more roles so far this year than in 2016.”
So far, the election result doesn’t appear to have changed anything: “I was waiting for a role to get signed off over the weekend,” the headhunter adds. “I was a bit apprehensive that it might not happen, but it came through today.”
If there is any slowdown in hiring in the months to come, London recruiters say it’s more likely to be the annual seasonal slump than anything related to the UK’s political disquiet. “It’s going to get slower now as we’re into the second half,” says Oliver Rolfe at equities-focused search firm Spartan International. “It will start to pick up again come September and progress through to Q1 2018 after MiFID II kicks in.”
“We’re about to hit the usual summer slowdown,” remarks another equities headhunter. “It’s just that time of year. From now on, making a hire becomes more expensive as people will want to be compensated for leaving behind their bonus. You’ll see things improve in the fourth quarter as banks start making plans for next year.”
Following the Brexit referendum and last week’s election, the New York Times says Britain has become an increasingly “confusing and unpredictable” country, but London’s finance recruiters don’t seem to see it that way. One senior headhunter says a hung parliament with Theresa May at the helm is the best possible result for finance. “Most bankers see this as a form of stability,” he says. “You now have a government that’s likely to deliver a softer Brexit, but that’s not suddenly going to impose new bank taxes or to start penalising high earners.”
Of course, this could all change if Theresa May’s government proves unstable. “Everyone would be very worried if Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister,” says Hoar. “He’s a nice old grandfatherly figure who’s promising free ice creams for everyone, but if you grew up in the shadow of the 1970s, you know that comes with a cost.”