The big trends in hiring and how they affect you

RICHARD JOHNSON
INSURANCE:

The insurance recruitment market remains buoyant, with a continuous requirement for finance, risk and compliance professionals at all salary levels. The sector has been the subject of significant recent regulatory change, through the well publicised Solvency II requirements, new products, new insurance companies, a constant flow of mergers and acquisition activity, growth in existing companies and strategic restructures. All of this change has resulted in increased requirements for accountants with relevant insurance experience. While a company’s ideal is often a like-for-like replacement when recruiting, recently we’re seeing more companies willing to consider candidates with transferable skills from other areas of financial services and banking and, in some cases, from industry and commerce. While the insurance sector remains buoyant, it continues to be an employers’ market, and candidates must differentiate themselves. Candidates must give real thought to the role they are applying for and ensure they clearly demonstrate in their CV the necessary relevant knowledge, experience and core competencies. If you don’t have the perfect experience, don’t worry. Leverage the experience you do have and demonstrate that you have the aptitude to take on the role, and are capable of adding value. Where possible, quantify your achievements and write about how you personally have influenced or driven change.

Richard Johnson is principal consultant, insurance practice, at CMC Consulting.

ANDREW BREACH
INVESTMENT BANKING:

The market for both investment banking and asset management hiring remains difficult. While the general trend in investment banks is to reduce headcount, there continues to be selective, high-profile hiring of key personnel. In mergers and acquisitions and leveraged finance, some banks are restructuring divisions by reducing teams from, for example, ten to four and having a general analyst pool. Others have removed an entire layer from their structure, in one case executive directors. Once the market brightens, we anticipate the same urgent demand for some analysts that we saw at the start of 2010. There are rays of light – many institutions have cash to invest or lend and are ready to use it once confidence returns. There are also many City rainmakers who, having left senior roles in well-known institutions, are setting up new businesses and will bring a refreshing wind of change and opportunity to the market. Some candidates are remaining in their current roles to weather the storm, but I advise caution. During the bounce in recruitment in 2010/2011, the origination teams that were hiring only wanted individuals that had worked in teams that had done deals in the past 12 to 18 months. They weren’t interested in portfolio or restructuring focused candidates. The moral is that if your current firm is not doing deals, and is unlikely to be for the next 6 to 12 months, you may be damaging your career by staying put.

Andrew Breach is head of corporate banking at Michael Page Financial Services.

PETER MILNE
ACCOUNTANCY:

We publish separate accountancy market updates each quarter for both banking and financial services and commerce & industry. Our first quarter reports reveal that, despite some caution in the market, there is a good level of jobs available, and some interesting opportunities for accountants seeking new roles. Specifically, there is a continued need for core accounting skills and businesses remain committed to recruiting professionals in this area. This is creating demand for both financial control and internal audit specialists as organisations scrutinise business performance. Most encouragingly, there is also an emphasis on growth-focused roles, as businesses look to exploit opportunities in the market. We are seeing demand for financial management professionals and commercial accountants, while increased emphasis on international growth is leading to a rise in group-focused roles. In financial services, regulatory accountants are being hired, as our clients continue to implement projects aimed at putting the necessary controls in place. Employers are also placing increased emphasis on providing decision-makers with high-quality management information. If you have experience in this area, now is a good time to contact a recruiter. For these opportunities, employers are focusing on finance professionals with strong business partnering skills, cost management abilities and first-class stakeholder management experience.

Peter Milne is director of financial services recruitment at Robert Walters.

LUCINDA MOULE
LEGAL SECTOR:

In a recent Laurence Simons survey, 40 per cent of lawyers said their departments had increased in size in the past 12 months. There’s a clear increase in demand for lawyers or compliance professionals across all sectors in industry, banking and private practice. In private practice, we've seen increased activity within corporate and capital markets, mainly US firms looking to capitalise on an anticipated market upswing. On the in-house side, regulatory issues lead demand across many sectors. Banking continues to experience tough times, as clients head into any recruitment with caution and very precise job descriptions. Beyond financial services, sectors like life sciences and digital media have seen a slight increase, particularly for lawyers with experience from competitor organisations. 67 per cent of respondents to our survey said they’d consider relocating abroad. Bric regions remain attractive to those seeking competitive remuneration. I’m pleased with recent recruitment activity, and am confident that the legal sector will improve with the year. For those seeking legal employment, a good relationship with a trusted recruiter will give you clear insight into market trends and put you ahead of your competition. Good recruiters have knowledge of those law firms or companies looking to increase headcount, as well as those making opportunistic hires. It is important to work closely with recruiters who can match your needs and experience with the right type of employer.

Lucinda Moule is managing director of Laurence Simons Legal Recruitment.