On December 4, 2017, the Career Development Group of CFA Society New York presented: Investment Professional Employee Outlook. The event sought to address employment trends that have been seen this year as well as make predictions of what to expect in 2018. Paul Webster, head of the recruitment consultancy Page Executive North America, kicked off the event with a keynote address aimed to contextualize the discussion to follow. A key theme was the incursion of new competitors into the space previously held by large Investment Banks.
After 2008, large banks have noticeably strayed away from activity involving money lending as this would require long-term funding as well as large risk profiles, costs these banks are now looking to avoid. Instead, there has been a move toward more event driven activity such as mergers and acquisitions, leverage financing, and transaction banking as opposed to more traditional balance-sheet driven activities.
As a result, the rise of the middle-market commercial banks has occurred as these smaller banks enter the space previously dominated by investment banks. This includes more focus on syndicated loans, smaller sized M&A, as well as advisory work. Buy-side entities such as pension funds, asset managers, and private equity firms have become more involved in hiring as they have moved into raising capital that investment banks provided in the past. New corporates with an edge in technology such as Venmo and Paypal have taken over the cash management space as they are able to do the same work in a fraction of the time, thanks to instant clearing. These companies have seen an increase demand for jobs as more candidates are electing to move to large corporates from both the front-office and buy-side of traditional financial firms.
As for what to expect in 2018, new job trends are likely to be rooted in technology. Demand for quantitative modeling, analysis, and trading has risen as knowledge in tech has shifted from the back office to the front office. Employers are heavily interested in candidates with knowledge and experience in tech as it as seen as a necessity in any field in order to remain competitive.
The discussion continued with the panel, made up of diverse professionals such as Alexis DuFresne, head of Marketing and Investor Relations search at Whitney Partners, Jeanne Branthover, Managing Partner at DHR International, Lauren E. Callaghan, Executive Search and Leadership Consultant at Spencer Stuart and Kevin S. Gahwyler, CFA, COO, Twin Capital Management.
The panel tackled topics such as: What skills sets are in demand for the upcoming year, How can candidates diversify their skill sets, How to approach mid-career changes, and What will the impact of the New York salary law be?
The panelists generally agreed with Mr. Webster that a focus on Fintech will dominate the job market in the year to come and that it would be wise to have knowledge and experience in this area. As there is movement toward tech, candidates were instructed to ask themselves what they can do that computers cannot as they must reevaluate what they added value they will bring to a company. Hopeful employees should show multiple skill sets as well as diversity in marketing themselves in order to stand out to employers.
In the Private equities field, a greater focus will be placed on quantitative data when selecting new hires. Sales performance as well as fund raising by candidates will be looked at more than before. As for more senior roles, PE firms are looking for people who can generate revenue, have the connections needed to bring deals to the table, and are able to fund raise effectively.
As highlighted by Mr. Webster, the panelists agreed that new salary laws in New York will not negatively impact the job search. The new law, which prohibits recruiters from asking candidates their previous salaries, will instead lead to a truer market worth of each individual candidate. However, tactics such asking how much a client is willing to pay and aiming for the highest amount will no longer work as clients are now forced to do more research on what similar positions pay. Not much change will be seen in salary negotiations as long as the candidates conduct their own research and evaluate how much they are truly worth to each company.
After conferring that mid-career changes are easiest to execute as a candidate shifts to a related field rather than diving into a field in which they have no experience; the discussion shifted to advice when looking for a job. One of the more important facets in hunting for a job is the development and preservation of one’s network. Candidates were instructed not to contact a recruiter out of the blue with a request and expect real help. Instead, they should stay in touch through notes or emails and ask how they can help their contacts.
When entering the interview stage, candidates should ensure that they have rehearsed their questions and talking points as preparedness is key to securing a position. If one does not have relevant experience in a certain area, one should demonstrate an ability and a willingness to learn, which will leave a good impression on the interviewer. Follow-up notes and emails are also important as they can serve to clear up points made in the interview and can show demonstrated interest.
As roles are merging, it is important that candidates have multiple skill sets. Being well-connected and showing that there are contacts and deals that can be brought to the table are what interviewers look for. Make sure you evaluate whether the position is truly a good fit and that you are what they are looking for in that position.
As the event came to a close, it was evident that that the job market is changing more quickly than ever before as Fintech becomes exponentially more important in this space. The challenge facing job candidates is unprecedented as hopefuls must compete with other candidates as well as technology to secure a position. The rapid advancement of tech and its incorporation into the financial sector also has many positives such as aiding the rise of tech focused corporates and positions within these companies as well as increasing the efficiency of nearly all aspects of the traditional banking space. The year to come will likely pave the way for what to expect in the near future as Fintech continues to expand its influence.