The financial services job market in the Middle East is picking up again, but with a focus on hiring more locals, a general resistance to indulge in over-enthusiastic recruitment and stiff competition for roles, candidates need to stand out from the crowd. According to conversations with regional financial services recruiters, these are the phrases to include on your CV if you want to stand out in the post-Ramadan rush period.
Saudi may be opening up its equity markets to foreign investors, but it’s the debt capital markets where local and international banks are in a tussle for business. The top 10 brokerages on the Saudi stock market are all local firms, while banks like HSBC and Credit Agricole are gaining traction in the debt markets, and Standard Chartered is focusing on this business in the kingdom. Recruiters suggest that banks are battling for those with tangible deal experience in the kingdom, preferably with a bulge bracket international bank.
The seemingly inexhaustible supply of wealth management jobs in the Middle East has waned as many international players keen to grab a bigger slice of the pie have simply decided to base their operations abroad and capture offshore business from clients in the Gulf. However, recruiters suggest that one area of private banking recruitment has remained robust – services for non-resident Indians on the ground in Gulf countries.
If you want to work for a sovereign wealth fund in the Middle East now, you need experience working in private equity with an understanding of what constitutes a good investment across international markets as diverse as London, New York and Singapore, according to recruiters. Not too much experience, however – the majority of recruitment activity is focused at the ‘mid-level’, according to recruiters, namely those currently working at associate to VP.
As we pointed to recently, the uptick in investment banking fees in the Middle East is this year has forced many banks to tentatively add to their teams and, for the first time in years, this is focused at the senior rather than junior end of the market. However, not wanting to poach from competitors on the ground and face potentially big bonus buyouts, the first port of call has been bankers out of the market who have been running their own ‘consultancies’, advising former clients on their financing needs.
AML is the place to be in the already simmering compliance job market. AML specialists in banks have swelled by 54% in the past year and banks like HSBC and Standard Chartered are both complaining about how much resource compliance staff are eating out of their hiring budgets. In the Middle East, though, much of the compliance recruitment is currently focused at the senior end – senior managers, heads of compliance positions or those with a focus on international regulations. Add in AML and you can write your own pay cheque.
Internal audit roles in Dubai can be lucrative, with salaries coming in at up to $140k according to figures from recruiters Robert Half. Financial services organisations are being increasingly battered by regulations that are increasing the need for internal controls across the world. Therefore, internal auditors remain hot property.