To say it’s been a busy/frantic/manic (pick your adjective) first 6 months of the year is an understatement, with the demand for new talent far outstripping the supply of good quality people open to a move.
To make this an easily digestible read, here are 10 bullet points of useful information (I hope!):
The market across Finance, Compliance and Governance has been unbelievably busy since January BUT only at salaries below £100k base; the ‘do-ers’ and the ‘reviewers.’ This section of the market is under intense supply and demand pressures, with a relentless demand for new people across most asset classes within the buy-side. In a positive way, a lot of demand is due to teams expanding and investing in new hires, which contrasts with 2021 when a lot of hiring was due to replenishing teams and lost headcount over the pandemic. For the most part, people are moving for around a 20% give or take an increase in base pay and a huge volume of people are also securing a promotion as part of their move. In some cases, people are achieving as high as a 30-35% hike in base pay and it’s these stories that are fuelling the gossip and jungle drums.
Why did the jobs market seem to take off like a rocket at the start of 2022? Here’s my take. 2021 was the year of recovery and a perfect storm. Lots of firms actively hiring during the thawing of Covid restrictions alongside a lot of candidates eager to move roles. The euphoria was infectious and this spurred on a lot of hiring and movement of people. The difference with this year is that the candidate base has halved given the number of people who switched roles last year whilst the supply of roles has outstripped 2021 volumes. Your end result is a market out of sync: top-tier candidates receiving multiple job offers, firms having to fast-track recruitment processes, employers ‘forced’ to offer more money or sign on bonuses if they really want someone, counter offers off the scale and lots of employers scrambling to shore up key talent and ensure succession plans are in place.
In the background, the rising cost of living on top of inflation is putting a lot of employees and employers in a difficult position. Almost every candidate we’re helping at the moment is seeking a decent increase in base pay with many people referencing the above and/or seeking to make up for the lack of base salary increases for the last few years. Again, this adds fuel to the fire and explains why, at certain levels, people are jumping for an above-market pay rise as well as a promotion.
Who’s hiring? Alternative asset managers in general with most public and private markets funds seeking to bolster their ranks. In particular, we’ve seen a real spike in newly created roles across debt and credit funds, venture/growth capital and venture debt funds. In traditional asset and wealth management, there’s been a lot of hiring linked to firms going through some form of corporate activity, particularly acquisitions or consolidation.
It’s widely known that the market at the newly and recently qualified level is hotter than ever with too much choice for most people in the 0 to 2 years PQE bracket. This has led to a definite shift on the compensation front with newly qualified accountant salaries moving up to £55,000-60,000 base for first-time practice movers. The key to being successful at this level is to sell hard, decide quickly and ideally find someone just at the start of their search before they have too many options. Another notable shift at the NQ ACA level is just how fussy the candidates have become, which is probably down to the number of jobs these candidates are having run past them on a daily basis. Consequently, candidates are more reluctant than ever to do tasks they see as ‘boring’. A shocking example was a recent conversation with a funds auditor from a Big 4 firm (who is looking for a first move in-house) turn down a fund accounting role because it involved dealing with the auditors on a seasonal basis.
At the mid-to-senior level, the market has been incredibly busy on the corporate or ‘house’ side of Finance, especially at financial controller and head of finance level. Most of this is linked to growth and businesses seeking to professionalise or upskill teams in response to senior management or Partners asking for more granular analysis on the management company side. Across Funds Finance it continues to be a real-life version of Squid Games trying to find people at the senior fund accountant or fund controller level, with good candidates often having too much choice.
Remote and/or flexible working continues to be high up the list of priorities for candidates at all levels and in a lot of cases, it’s a deal-breaker if an employer isn’t offering a hybrid working arrangement. On this note, we have seen a surprising amount of funds revert back to five days a week in the office which has made recruitment trickier in what is such a competitive market. Over time people will vote with their feet and at all levels, this has become either the first or second question we get asked by candidates when they’re reviewing a potential opportunity.
As you’d expect, counteroffers have been and continue to be rife and we’ve even seen this happening across all levels, from junior to senior employees. Even the Big 4 and professional services firms are desperate to keep top talent and resorting to counter offers and retention bonuses to tie people in with one of the Big 4 very publicly stating that they’re paying all of their 2021 ACA’s a loyalty bonus for renewing their contract. I’ve seen some crazy numbers in the last 6 months as firms throw everything they can towards keeping people who are rated highly!
What’s the secret in the current market and how do you ‘win’? The speed and simplicity of the interview process remain crucial in successfully bagging your hire and filling a role. Get people through your process quickly and make a decision – that’s it. If you’re slow to act you will lose out and/or be in a situation where you’re competing against multiple other organisations.
How will the rest of the year unfold? I’m already seeing signs of a little bit of a slowdown and we’re a week away from technically being in a recession. But you wouldn’t know it right? The current market is unsustainable in some parts and I’m hoping things will begin to normalise in the next 6 months of the year. I’m expecting the recruitment market to remain busy given the fertile fund-raising conditions and positive deal flow across most sectors and industries and it’s unlikely that candidate flow will suddenly improve.
That’s it from me, enjoy your week and as always please reach out with any specific questions. Always happy to help. Contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org