Perspectives from recruiters on where to find finance jobs in 2020


  • The job market for finance professionals has shifted by specialization, recruiters and career coaches in New York City said in late November. And 2020 will be a difficult year for job seekers.
  • Still, the bright spots for hiring include private credit and private equity firms; registered investment advisers and family offices; and medium-sized investment banks.
  • “It’s been a wobbly year,” said Roy Cohen, a career coach focused on middle to senior executives in finance and other industries. “I expect next year to be just as difficult.”
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For the dozens of job seekers gathered on the 10th floor of a building near Times Square, a text from a friend that a panelist read aloud didn’t really inspire confidence.

Peter Tannenbaum, the founder of New York-based executive search firm Ramax Search, pulled out his cell phone to share the message he had received earlier from a friend he described as distinctly “cynical.”

“Even if you get a job, it won’t help and you’ll wonder why you bothered,” he read. “You will be mad at yourself for listening to the lies your parents and teachers told you that if you work hard and get good grades you will live happily ever after. Thank you. Good night.”

It made the crowd laugh, as well as the other recruiters and career coaches sitting on the panel with Tannenbaum.

“It’s been a wobbly year,” said Roy Cohen, a veteran career coach specializing in middle and senior executives in finance and other industries. “I expect next year to be just as difficult.”

Alexis DuFresne, director of the Whitney Group, an executive search firm, agreed. The trend of consolidation for years in asset management and investment banking continued, while the activity of selling stocks was “decimated”.

Tannenbaum, Cohen, DuFresne, and other recruiters and career experts in the financial services industry have described areas that see a ton of hires – private equity and family offices are one of them – even in the tough environment. at a CFA Society of New York event in late November.

Speakers also offered tips on tackling age discrimination, an overview of compensation and working with recruiters like them.

Who is hiring

Financial services labor market conditions do not reflect the United States stock Exchangerecord levels and a decade-long bull run, Cohen said.

“Banks are laying people off,” he said.

Executives and analysts have cited macroeconomic conditions, such as low interest rates, eroding profit margins and uncertainty in global trade, as the culprits for downsizing in companies.

The number of employees in investment banking, equity trading, and fixed income, commodity and currency (FICC) trading continued to decline in the first half of this year, while revenues of those companies fell to their lowest level in 13 years, according to data provider Coalition. .

There were 50,400 front-office banking jobs as of mid-year, according to a September Coalition report. This is down from 56,700 at the same time in 2014, with the number of employees decreasing each year along the way.

However, some opportunities have presented themselves. Recruiters highlighted private credit and equity on Tuesday; registered investment advisers and family offices; technology and health bank; and midsize investment banks as bright spots.

“Mid-market companies are able to attract talent from high-growth banks like never before,” said DuFresne. “It was very rare that years ago you would see someone, a headliner, leave a big bank like a Barclays or a Citi and go to Cowen or Stifel. Now these businesses are growing in. acquiring similar businesses or smaller businesses. “

Beyond these spaces, the choices are slim, the speakers said. New hedge fund launches are at their lowest in a decade, as bigger players continue to crowd out smaller competitors. Technological improvements in banks, they said, have eliminated or reduced many back office jobs in banks, and funds of funds are dwindling every day.

Business Insider first reported in September that Barclays had raised the bar for hiring foreigners and was leaving vacancies unfilled, resulting in what insiders told us amounted to an informal hiring freeze for investment banking, FICC trading and some back office roles.

“You really need a sense of humor, especially in this market because it’s going to be tough,” said Cohen, who has written a book on survival on Wall Street.

Lauren Callaghan, a recruiter at global leadership research and consulting firm Spencer Stuart, said alternative investment fundraisers and marketers were in high demand as more and more companies are looking to deploy new products.

“A lot of the inquiries we get are, ‘How can I improve my fundraising team? ”Said Callaghan, who focuses on recruiting in the alternative asset management field. “People want really technical salespeople who can have a much more consultative conversation with [limited partners]. ”

Eat what you kill

You can still get paid in finance, but you aren’t guaranteed the same salaries and bonuses that the industry enjoyed decades ago.

Compensation structures have adopted an “eat what you kill” structure, recruiters said, even in non-investment roles. Fundraising and investor relations staff, for example, are paid on “new assets coming in and not keeping assets,” DuFresne said.

To new hedge funds, Tannenbaum said that “every person they want to hire is on a dollar and a promise.”

Overall, compensation is expected to drop this year across the industry, according to DuFresne, “even for performers.”

“Everyone is going to be disappointed no matter what,” Tannenbaum said.

The productivity bar has risen in all businesses. An executive at U.S. wealth management giant Morgan Stanley explained in an internal memo outlining its 2020 compensation plan, reviewed by Business Insider this week, that part of the firm’s strength of more than 15,000 financial advisers should earn more income to keep their payments the same.

Delete your Hotmail account

Recruiters also addressed an issue that has also angered many finance job seekers: “juniorization,” or hiring cheaper talent versus a more qualified candidate.

The reality is it happens all the time, recruiters said, but there are ways that candidates can always stand out.

Laurie Thompson, founder of Willow Tree Advisors and long-time former financial services recruiter at industry giant Heidrick & Struggles, told those gathered to lose Hotmail email accounts – and to wonder if they make 5 000 races on weekends.

“It shows people that you have a lot of energy,” she said.

Callaghan said candidates need to be nimble and relevant, and suggested bringing an iPad to interviews and meetings.

Yet the changes in which finance jobs are available now – and which companies are willing to pay – can make the job market confusing for candidates who have worked at a company for years, if not decades. Flexibility, according to recruiters, is a key trait.

“You kind of have to open up your horizons a little bit,” Tannenbaum said.


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