While investment bankers trudge to work under a cloud of dissatisfaction and the ever-present threat of redundancies, asset managers stroll to the office with a spring in their step, safe in the knowledge that they are both loved and in demand.
At least that’s the theory – investment banking jobs have been shrinking, bonuses have been battered by a hail of political rhetoric, while asset managers are back in demand again and riding high, having quashed EU attempts to rein in pay. Not only have jobs exceeded pre-crisis levels, but asset managers feel both secure and committed to the industry.
Are things really that great? “There’s been a definite increase in hiring over the past six months, more liquidity in the job market and expectation that entire teams will be recruited as asset managers look to enter new markets,” said James Dewhirst, director at headhunters Investment Management Partners.
If you’re looking for a new opportunity in asset management, according to headhunters, here are where the jobs are emerging currently.
In the past month or so fund managers have started flocking towards emerging market debt, and this is starting to create a demand for specialists in this area, according to one asset management headhunter who isn’t authorised to speak to the media. “It’s a hot area because a lot of funds don’t have coverage, and are looking to recruit entire teams or acquire businesses. This is creating a lot of movement.”
Hiring in the exchange traded funds (ETF) space has been subdued for some time now, but more recently “pockets” of recruitment have returned, according to Chris Sevenoaks, asset management consultant at recruiters Baker Noble. In particular, the fixed income sector is offering opportunities, he said. BlackRock has just hired Brett Olson into the newly created position of head of fixed income EMEA for its iShares business and is believed to be hiring for this division, as is Vanguard, according to recruiters. State Street is also making a push into ETFs.
At this point in the year, hiring senior portfolio managers can be a complex and expensive business, with bonus buyouts, or at least promises of compensation, required to spur any moves. Therefore, the focus has predominantly been at the junior level, said Dewhirst. “People with one to three years’ experience on the investment side are very much in demand currently,” he said.
Big players like Credit Suisse and JPMorgan may have pulled back from their transition management businesses, but other firms are spying an opportunity to expand, said Sevenoaks. “Many of these roles are around business development as well as client retention. It’s big business as pension funds and other investors look to shake up their portfolios,” he said.
In recent months firms like JPMorgan and Principal Global Investors have both made and talked up further hires for their infrastructure teams. They’re not the only ones, said Dewhirst: “It’s a niche sector, but there’s been a noticeable uptick in recruitment in the past two months.”
Sales roles are still few and far between on the distribution side of the business, according to the headhunters we spoke to, but marketing roles are comparatively hot as fund managers look to stand out from the competition. “Fund managers are thinking more about thought leadership, good PR and getting themselves into the public sphere,” said the asset management headhunter.