There are rays of hope in a sluggish City jobs market

CONSIDERING the current employment climate in the City, and the ruthless job cuts hitting the headlines, you would be forgiven for considering packing your bags and taking an early retirement in the country.

A report released by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants last week showed that investment banks are set to lose another 40,000 jobs in the next few years, on top of cuts that have already been announced. In addition, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has predicted that the total number of people employed in London’s financial sector is set to fall from 250,000 to 237,000 next year. This will be the lowest level since 1993.

And it’s not just jobs that are under fire. The CEBR also estimates that the level of City bonuses paid out in January 2013 will be £1.6bn, down from a peak of £11.6bn in 2008.

But despite the doom and gloom, there are still areas in the City that are thriving and taking on staff. I have spoken to five recruitment experts who have given me their insights into which areas are continuing to hire, and where you could be looking for your next job.

James Smith - Project and Change
Change is still happening across the financial services industry. Hiring in change management accounted for over a quarter of the roles that we worked on in October. Finance change roles are in particular demand, especially subject matter experts in regulation, accounting, integration and system work. In response to regulatory changes like Basel III, risk specialists are also finding themselves sought after, even in areas outside of risk – particularly collateral and margining. Project managers and business analysts are in high demand for these roles if they have trade-processing expertise. As the entire business model of a bank is restructured, there is an increased demand for individuals with a broad financial services experience.

James Smith is associate director at Morgan McKinley.

Andrew Young - Oil and Gas
One area that is doing particularly well at the moment is the UK oil and gas industry. Demand for accounting and compliance staff is especially high. Further, a large number of national oil companies have been forming temporary partnerships with private companies, resulting in a high demand for jobs relating to joint ventures. Some roles may be moving to places like Aberdeen in order to be closer to resources in the North Sea, and to save on costs. But finance roles, like in investment appraisal, will continue to remain in the City. My advice to someone looking to move into the industry would be to get exposure to oil and gas clients, or work with large capital expenditure businesses, as the technical characteristics of these industries are quite similar.

Andrew Young is senior consultant at Mark Sattin.

James Holland - Quantitative Analysis
While we have seen a mixed performance in the quantitative market recently, well-established firms with strong reputations are continuing to grow and hire staff. Following the reduction in bank-based desks, desk quants and quant traders have been taken up by proprietary trading businesses and hedge funds. We have also seen a movement by quant businesses into commodities, creating demand for quant traders in this area. In addition, many funds that have not been in the quant market are looking to diversify their strategies. Over the next few years, investors will be looking to minimise risk, but maintain high returns. People that can deliver a stable quantitative strategy, where risk is visible and returns are good, will never struggle to find a role.

James Holland is head of global markets at Alexander Black.

Nick Teige - Internal Audit
In the past, talented candidates finishing their accountancy training schemes at one of the big four houses saw another role in audit as the last thing they wanted. But now more candidates are focused on career longevity. Good governance is under the spotlight, and it is more important than ever that financial institutions manage all of their risks and exposures internally. There are few big banks that have not seen flaws in their risk and governance procedures, and internal audit is a vital element in improving that. There has been an emphasis recently on more specialised internal auditors. While the majority of candidates are from the big four, we have also seen a surge in demand for people with quantitative, credit risk, or compliance skills looking to change their focus.

Nick Teige is a partner at Ashton Hendricks.

The future for internal audit is rosy. It is a function required by law, and almost always bases itself at the Head Office, so is unlikely to face the prospect of being outsourced to an outside party.

David Banner – Insurance
Insurance is still recruiting because it remains a growth industry. It hasn’t been affected in the same way as some other sectors by the financial crisis, and insurance is often a non-discretionary purchase. Insurers are experts in risk, but they don’t take any risks with their customer’s money, therefore their business model is long-term and inherently stable. As a specialist insurance market, Lloyd’s employs a huge variety of people. Analysts, actuaries and IT professionals are particularly in demand. As Asian economies continue to develop and more wealth is created, there are further opportunities for insurers to grow, making this an exciting and expanding industry in which to pursue a career.

David Banner is senior recruitment manager at Lloyd’s of London.