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Recruitment within asset management in a global pandemic

6-11-20

Recruitment within asset management in a global pandemic

 “How’s the market been” or “Is anyone hiring”, “What are you seeing happening in Q1”

These being the three most common questions recruiters across are being asked on a daily basis in 2020.    In this brief article we will do our best to give some clarity on what we have seen in terms of recruitment in asset management and hedge funds in 2020.

Firstly, to give you an idea of our firm’s coverage and who we are, we are a boutique recruitment company specialising in permanent recruitment in investment management / alternative investment houses e.g. Private Equity firms and Hedge Funds across London and mainland Europe, covering sales, marketing, operations, quant and front office recruitment.   We therefore have a specialist focus in the buyside which means we only have visibility across this sector and can’t comment on the entire recruitment market in which there will be huge variations based on the sector.

Ok, so let’s cover “so how’s the market been”.     We had many conversations with global asset managers and hedge funds towards the tail end of 2019 and the start of 2020, most of whom alluded to incredible growth and development plans.    This growth and optimism we were seeing was on the back of some of the dust settling on Brexit and article 50 being revoked (will the dust ever settle on that one, who knows?) however on the back of this companies could finally have some business certainty again and make plans for the next fiscal year.

Similarly, the UK general election was also a factor with the Conservatives securing a commanding majority which was welcomed by the City and gave UK PLC a strong majority government and clear direction.  2020 looked set to become a stellar year.     Jan and Feb 2020 lived up to all promise, strong levels of roles being registered and the market was very much a candidate driven. (candidates had more opportunity and employers had more competition), this then went full circle in the space of a month.     When the virus breached our shores, it didn’t take long for companies to start putting their open vacancies on hold just to see how things panned out.   Anyway, I will save the history lesson as we all know how things then transpired, however, to say that recruitment was put on a back burner would be an understatement.

Things slowly started to move forward again once companies started getting used to the new working from home utopia and started seeing how effective things could actually be.    Unsurprisingly some of the hedge fund recruitment campaigns we were working on were the first to come back online and indeed we started receiving new positions from a large number of our clients, these positions being largely in research and front office focused positions, this is of course reflective of the strategies that hedge funds employ and how market conditions, being incredibly volatile, were ideal.

As a small boutique asset management recruitment company,  and to give you an indication of the dip,  Elliott James Consulting had our first month of no new permanent recruitment placements taking place for the first time since the company was established over 12 years ago, and yes this included the credit crunch (oh how I look back on those days with fond memories).

The financial services recruitment market took a pummelling for a few months that can’t be disputed, many agencies, including EJC, took advantage of the amazing furlough scheme being offered by the government to ride the storm and it’s nice to say that we are now seeing a large number of our clients returning back to BAU.   We have noted an increase in roles over the last few months and the market has flipped to be far more client friendly, as there is more talent who are active in the market.

“is anyone hiring” YES, very much so, is the simple answer to that.   Confidence has returned to many (not all) of our client base, these clients have seen how working from home can be very effective and they are proving to be incredibly adept at onboarding new staff remotely.  Thank god this virus hit in the time of video meetings and fast broadband as otherwise we would be in a very different predicament.     Some degree of confidence has returned to the hiring market, we are definitely nowhere near where we would expect to have been without the pandemic, however we are taking more and more requirements at various levels of seniority and geography.   To this end, we have seen more

 

positions being registered in places such as Luxembourg, Dublin, Paris and Frankfurt which is entirely predictable based on companies preparing for the full ramifications of Brexit to have taken place.     As mentioned above however the market now has shifted to a client driven market which means clients are able to be very selective in terms of who they’re hiring and have a candidate rich pool to choose from.   We are seeing some top hedge funds whose strategies might not have performed in these markets letting people go or maybe indicating bonus won’t be paid and these are candidates who being snapped up eagerly by other houses.

“what do you seeing happening in Q1 next year” When we get asked this, like everyone else, we don’t have the luxury of a crystal ball to predict what’s going to happen.   However, we are buoyed by the news coming out of many government research departments that mass vaccines are currently on the production line and are awaiting sign off to be distributed which literally would be a shot in the arm to the economy, excuse the pun.    Lockdown 2.0 hasn’t seemed to have the impact which Lockdown 1.0 did, it’s helped hugely that children are back at school and business has learned to adapt.  We are very positive about Q1 and many of the conversations with our client base of long only asset management and alternative investment houses are indicating recruitment plans are in place already and we are expecting to be very busy.   We are also getting feedback from front office professionals that their annual bonus will be very poor this year which will mean any firms who have performed well and paying out good bonus will have a multitude of top professionals beating down their door.   Firms are also pushing back reopening their offices until the end of Q2 already therefore please don’t feel the need to dry clean the suit / smarter work attire just yet, working from home is going to be around for a lot longer yet.

To round off, 2020 has been a challenging year for all sectors, it’s been a true roller coaster of epic proportions.   If you are looking for work please rest assured, we feel hugely for all people who have been made redundant or who are struggling to secure new roles in this restricted market.  However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, we are seeing positive signs, I would suggest you stay focused, keep in touch with your recruiters, keep yourself informed with the markets and your LinkedIn account updated and active and make sure you tap into your own network of contacts to let them know you are on the lookout.

If you require any recruitment assistance please feel free to send your resume to info@elliottjamesconsulting.com and one of our consultants will get straight back to you

Elliott James Consulting Ltd is a buyside focused recruitment company covering many of London’s leading asset management and hedge funds.