The job market on Wall Street remains tough. New York’s financial sector still employs 25,000 fewer people than it did ten years ago. Aspiring bankers are sending out 300 emails just to stand out from the competition for a summer internship. But banks really are recruiting, just not in the areas you might expect. These are the most sought-after skills on Wall Street this year.
Considering all the efforts investment banks have put into retaining their junior bankers over the past 12 months – pay hikes, enforced days off, more exciting responsibilities – it’s no surprise that analysts remain hot property. Richard Lipstein, managing director of executive search firm Gilbert Tweed International, says that private equity firms have been “feverishly recruiting” first and second year analysts. Inevitably this means that investment banks have to indulge in replacement hiring.
Investment banking activity in healthcare has taken off this year. It accounted for a record 16% of the $2.9bn in investment banking revenues for Q1 2015 and the U.S. comprised 78% of this, according to figures from Dealogic. Not surprisingly, top healthcare bankers are hot property, with the vast majority of bulge bracket banks and smaller players expanding in this area, according to headhunters. In the past few weeks, Dr Robert Glassman, a senior healthcare banker at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, left for Credit Suisse while Guggeheim lifted a team out of J.P. Morgan.
Reports of the death of private equity have been greatly exaggerated. While the Wall Street Journal talks of private equity returns tumbling, private equity firms in the US have continued to hire. Much of the focus has been on the battle for junior investment bankers, but large private equity firms have more recently turned their attention to recruiting MBAs straight out of business school, says Adam Zoia, founder and chief executive of headhunters Glocap.
“Private equity firms have switched their attention from analyst recruitment to the post-MBA hiring and this is across the board,” he says. “This is for senior associate to VP level hires and this is a bigger commitment than hiring juniors – they earn more and they are given carried interest – so it’s a better reflection of the future prospects of the industry."
Of course, no list of top finance jobs would be complete without a nod to the skills shortage in compliance. Keith Feinberg, director of permanent placement services at Robert Half in New York, says that this is across the gamut of compliance jobs.
“More government scrutiny on the overall health of financial institutions is driving demand for experienced compliance professionals,” he says. “Directives such as the Dodd-Frank Act, Basel III, the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements are fueling demand for these professionals.”
Regulatory pressure means a need for financial services organisations to shake-up their internal compliance and regulatory reporting systems. The result is that experienced change professionals are being hired in large numbers, according to Peter Laughter, CEO of recruiters Wall Street Services.
“There is still a significant need for business analysts and project managers with a strong compliance and regulatory reporting background,” he says. “I expect this trend to continue for the remainder of the year but start to decline in 2016 as internal compliance and regulatory reporting systems mature and become more efficient.”
The recruitment of financial advisors in the US is still incredibly active. Part of this is down to firms continuing to expand – UBS and Morgan Stanley have both ring-fenced their US wealth management divisions from job cuts and continued to hire – but it’s also down to the continued churn among financial advisors due to the pressures to bring in new clients. Anyone who can demonstrate that they can bring business with them to a new role will find no shortage of opportunities, says Lipstein.
“If you are a private banker or financial advisor with clients and assets that are transportable, there are a lot of firms that would like to talk with you,” he says.
Structured products recruitment has come back from the dead in most developed financial centers of the past few month, but there’s a sudden acute skills shortage on Wall Street, according to Feinberg.
“Commercial loans are coming due starting next year after the large issuance of CMBS transactions in the early 2000s. Borrowers are looking to refinance,” he says. “On the residential side, there is a strong demand for these analysts to monitor and perform surveillance and due diligence on the underlying residential mortgage collateral in funds.”
If you have an MBA from a top school and a deep understanding of the U.S technology sector, venture capital funds want to hear from you. “There’s been a big uptick in recruitment within tech-focused VC firms at the lateral level,” says Zoia. “The preference is to hire people who have worked in Silicon Valley, rather than hiring from other VC or private equity firms.”
The US still accounts for the largest proportion of investment banking revenues. In the first quarter there were $10.3bn worth of deals in North America, the only region to post a (6%) gain and more than double that of the $4.5bn in Europe – the second largest market. The US landscape is dominated by local banks – J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, BAML, Morgan Stanley and Citi top the league tables, says Dealogic. Smaller foreign players want a bigger slice of the pie.
This means jobs are being created and – according to specialist M&A recruiters – bulge brackets are being targeted. Nomura, for example, aims to create 20 investment banking jobs in the US this year in an attempt to drag it up from 33rd in the North American league tables.
Banks are struggling to find enough internal auditors, as well as accountants can tackle regulatory demands, according to Feinberg. This is simply down to supply and demand, as internal auditors are “key to efficient businesses operations”, he says, but an increase in compliance requirements have helped to kick-start the job market.
Big data is central to all the hot technology jobs outside of Wall Street currently, but it’s also becoming increasingly important for financial institutions to get to grips with. Whether that’s hedge funds grappling huge amounts of data on Twitter to make trading decisions or investment banks shaking up their data analysis tools, data scientists are gradually becoming hot property in the financial sector, according to one New York IT recruiter who did not wish to be named. Start boning up on Hadoop and its related products.