We're not quite there, but we're fast-approaching Thanksgiving in the US and the extended festive season in Europe. Hiring tends to quieten down as a result - now's the time for taking stock and planning 2016 budgets, not for adding new people before maelstrom at year-end.
Some new hires are unavoidable though. Whether for revenue reasons, regulatory reasons, or rarity reasons (candidates just haven't come forward), some spaces still need to be filled urgently.
We asked six finance recruiters who they'd most like to hear from now. This is what they said.
Banks need senior liquidity and capital management specialists, says Matt Crawford, associate director at recruitment firm Robert Walters. Liquidity rules are changing under Basel III and Crawford says this is generating demand for people who are familiar with regulatory capital requirements and who can manage and assess risk weighted assets under the new regulatory regime. The available talent pool is, "incredibly small", says Crawford and staff with the right skill-set, who can communicate the new requirements clearly and effectively, are "highly valued" and difficult to move.
How much can you earn in liquidity management? Robert Walters is advertising a role for a head of capital and liquidity management at a salary of £100k to £140k ($151k to $211k).
Andrew Pringle, director at recruitment firm Circle Square, says there's still big demand for M&A bankers with real estate experience to work in real estate funds in London. "You'll need a real passion for real estate and to have experience working in a real estate team in a bank," he says. European real estate funds pay salaries of around £70k plus a bonus of 20% to 40% to their most junior analysts. Big U.S. real estate funds pay a lot more.
It's not just liquidity management: Crawford says candidates who understand new regulations and can adapt and apply them to business requirements are also in short supply. Regulatory change, regulatory risk and regulatory development professionals are a thing. Candidates need to be familiar with everything from MIFID II to Market Abuse Regulations (MAR), the Volcker Rule, and Dodd Frank. Both banks and consultants are looking for people with this expertise. At senior levels, expect a salary of £100k+.
Crawford says there's also demand for particular species of product controller. Although plenty of product control jobs have been off-shored from financial hubs like London and New York, Crawford says there's still a need for product controllers with derivatives knowledge in London and that product controllers with two to five years' post qualification experience are hard to find after banks cut hiring in this area a few years ago.
Now's the time to work in model validation. Under the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review, banks are required to improve the evaluation of their internal risk models. Christian Robbins at recruitment firm Alpha Tradestone says this is creating a lot of demand for quantitative model validators and that many former front office quants are shifting into this area. Nonetheless, Robbins says roles are difficult to fill. Existing teams are often short-staffed as a result.
McKinsey & Co predicts that computers will replace compliance professionals in the next wave of financial services automation. Even if this happens, one species of compliance person should be safe - the compliance advisory professional who provides detailed advice on structuring new products to fit the regulatory landscape. Ben Harris, manager of the compliance team at Morgan McKinley, says there's still be demand for vice president level compliance advisory professionals across fixed income, including in structured syndicated loans and FX. Senior compliance advisors (director-level) can command salaries of £160k to £170k, plus bonuses of up to 50%.
Nonetheless, recruiters say there's still big demand for portfolio managers in hedge funds - just so long as long as they've got a good track record. "Hedge funds are always interested in hearing from portfolio managers who can make money consistently in volatile markets," says Zaheer Ebrahim, managing director of hedge fund recruiter Kennedy Group. Good hedge fund managers rarely want to move, says Ebrahim: "They're usually very well compensated where they are."
Now that highly quantitative PhDs can work in technology companies or even betting companies, fewer of them want to work for hedge funds. Ebrahim says this is a problem - particularly as funds are making more of an effort to train staff in house. Brevan Howard has its Centre for Financial Analysis at Imperial College London and Man Group has its Institute of Quantitative Finance at Oxford University, but the output of quantitative students is still insufficient to meet hedge funds' needs. Ebrahim says funds are luring PhDs with the promise of up to £10m to invest while the test their strategies.
Much like Ebrahim, David Reynolds, a London-based recruiter of fixed income traders for banks, says the emphasis now is on "traders who can make money in any market." More particularly, Reynolds says the emphasis is on traders who can make money in the new world where volatility is driven by political trends and central bank decisions rather than market fundamentals.
Much has been made of the big demand for junior bankers this year, but in London at least that demand seems to have shifted away from the lowest rung (analysts) to one rung higher up (associates). "Most of the London-based M&A jobs we have to fill now are for associates," says Pringle. "It's the time of year," he adds. With analyst bonuses paid in the summer, the analysts who wanted to move jobs have done so already, but associates are hanging on until their bonuses are paid in January and February. This is creating a lot of unfilled roles.