The highs and lows of 2016, the impact of Brexit and the year so far for financial services, asset management and the banking industries.
Last year came with it a level of uncertainty for job seekers and employers in financial services. There were significant redundancies at the director and head of team level, principally due to restructures and acquisitions as companies merged and diversified their product offering. As a result, more contract hires were made to cope with re-branding projects under new management. At a junior to mid-level, the market was relatively stable, however, the impact of Brexit certainly triggered a lack of confidence in the market, meaning that hires were mainly to replace turnover, rather than hiring for growth.
There were some notable high points in 2016 as there was a significant increase in demand for marketing professionals with communications skills, both internal and external, as well as copywriting and editorial skills to cope with the volume of information demanded by customers. Hiring managers started to be more flexible and open minded about their team’s background and decided to further diversify skill sets, encouraging people from agency or financial media to step forward and join them on the other side of the table.
There can be no denying that the financial services industry took precautions in the lead up to 2016’s EU referendum and most larger banks and investment houses took the opportunity to freeze hiring and take stock. When the results were announced, businesses quickly looked to their European cousins to see what operations could be maintained or moved into Europe, but still it was ‘business as usual’ with no rushed decisions being made. Confidence started to regain in the late summer (August was the busiest we’ve seen it in over four years) and marketing appeared to be one discipline that benefitted from the results. This is mainly because customers turned to the financial industry for information and advice, and by default, marketing communications was in demand once again.
Line managers were exposed to lower morale than usual in the early months of 2017, as they had to explain to their teams that their bonuses were lower than they hoped. Some companies did not even pay bonuses and others chose to freeze salary increments, leaving staff somewhat confused going into the New Year.
January may have been slow to get going, but resolutions were quickly made, as budgets were signed off and new strategies agreed upon. This meant that the 1st quarter of 2017 picked up pace yet again. Already, year to date, we’ve had over one hundred new mandates in financial services for permanent, temporary and fixed term contract staff, most significantly across sales support, bid proposal writing, communications, events and digital marketing roles.
Morgan McKinley London have had over 40 mandates in investment management and have seen an increase in the needs for specialist skill sets. Social Media is one area of huge growth, as companies are looking for individuals experienced in managing multiple platforms whilst being sensitive to FCA regulations and restrictions. Video production and graphic design skills are growing in demand as companies look to reduce their outsourcing reliance and bring more capability in-house. Aesthetics and design are essential for companies, particularly those undergoing rebranding projects following mergers and acquisitions.
As expected, bid proposal writers with specialisms, such as knowledge of fixed income products, have been in demand and have been remunerated accordingly. However, the most surprising increase has been the demand for sales support professionals who have experience managing consultant databases like eVestments, Mercer GIMD and CAMRAdata.
Hiring freezes in larger banks meant a rise in the number of smaller banks looking to grow their marketing functions, most notably international banks from Asia and challenger banks. Already there has been a significant increase in permanent hires in marketing and communications with a lot of roles being at vice-president or manager level.
PR and media relations is a growing area for banks, not only to bring more control from agency in house but also to streamline processes as companies need more global message consistency particularly in corporate communications and when it comes to producing their annual reports. Moreover as ring-fencing is a hot topic, clients need more touch-points from their banks as they look for assurance and clarity in uncertain times.
Event management within the banking industry is still in demand and has increased from 2016. However the volumes are still not what they were. Those with fluency in European or Asian languages have stood out of the crowd as events teams have become more centralised and managers are expected to be on the road, abroad, managing from the front. Anti-bribery regulation is being closely monitored and event managers should demonstrate awareness of such legalities when hosting events, as the regulatory bodies are tightening up and ignorance is no excuse.
Across clearing houses, brokers, stock exchanges, fintech start-ups and professional services, recruitment has been steady and split equally across temporary and permanent hires. The hiring of marketing executives was not the core focus of marketing directors’ strategies for 2016. However in 2017, the demand has started to grow again and line managers are searching for those willing and able to learn, to be able to mould them into their company’s way of marketing.
Most firms we work with are looking for relevant and tangible experience in competing financial businesses or from large, FTSE 250 firms. The exception to this rule is normally in digital marketing where experience in social media management, SEO, PPC, HTML coding and Google Analytics, take precedent over industry exposure.
Although our most recent General Election could have provoked companies to pause hiring, we are pleased to say that it is very much business as usual and we have been extremely busy this quarter. There is more replacement hiring over growth hires, but marketing directors are already looking to 2018 and where they will need more resources.
Brexit may have made it more challenging to tempt Europeans to London from overseas but with German and French languages skills being like gold dust, those who are in London already should benefit from having multiple options in the market.
For hiring managers, our advice would be to try to be open-minded and flexible on industry background when meeting potential employees, as a lot of successful hires in 2017 so far have been where a leap of faith has been taken and someone with fresh eyes has joined the business.
As we look forward to the third quarter of 2017, the only obstacle slowing down hiring will be annual leave over the summer holidays, but we expect the demand for skilled marketers to continue to grow. In particular, skills in digital marketing, communications and proposal writing should continue to rise, as well as companies needing skilled writers and editors for investment writing and copywriting mandates.
If you are a marketing professional within the industry and have further insight, or would like to know more about the topics discussed, please do get in touch. We currently have some exciting opportunities with fantastic, growing businesses. Why not click here to look into current roles and industry requirements in more detail.