Tough quarter for Projects & Change hiring finishes with positive outlook for the end of 2018

Mark Astbury 17.10.2018

After a slow summer period, the recruitment market for Projects & Change Management is looking better for the end of the year and into 2019.

How was Projects and Change Management recruitment in Q3?

The second half of 2018 has been challenging for Projects and Change professionals in London. Whilst the summer downturn was expected, the usual September rebound never surfaced and job volumes remained flat across Q3. We feel this was down to continued Brexit uncertainties and what it is actually going to mean for financial services in the future. Although it is pretty clear we will leave the single market, many firms are holding fire before moving forward with relocating staff to European offices until it is 100% confirmed. Others have been planning for the worst case scenario, looking to set up entities (if they don’t already have them) in the preferred locations of Frankfurt, Dublin, Luxembourg and Paris.

Permanent positions have been the burning light, with AVP and VP roles buoyant - they are showing no signs of slowing as we move into the end of the year, with two of the biggest players in the change market hiring a significant amount of people for some of their programmes. Candidates are more flexible than ever to move into FTE positions as they offer stability and strong career progression, especially as a lot of projects are multi-year and there’s a continuous flow of options.

Talks of significant technology programmes have been on the horizon for a while now, but due to the prolonged discussions around the exit from Europe, these will likely move to next year. Budgets are being set now for 2019 and there should be light at the end of the tunnel, with more large scale transformations coming back into the fore with compliance, efficiency, cost reduction and system upgrades being the potential focus moving forward.

Focus shifts to plans for next year after slow Q3

A lot of clients have been keen to hire in Q3, as there has been some churn in the market with many candidates moving to other opportunities, including permanent roles. However, the inability to engage in replacement hires has been a big frustration, with many hiring managers told to divide the work amongst the workforce that is already in place instead.

As mentioned earlier, job announcements have been quiet on the contract side, but things are looking remarkably more positive as we progress into Q4 and beyond into 2019. Most of the larger organisations have spent the year strategically thinking about how they will staff their business - next year will hopefully see the start of that.

A strong pool of professionals available

Candidate volumes have been increasing through the year as people roll off regulatory and strategic programmes, which has led to a larger pool of talent being available to the banks and asset managers when an urgent need comes along. With no regulatory programmes on the horizon other than FRTB and SFTR, a lot have found it difficult to secure their next assignment. Many were expected to be moved internally onto a Brexit programme but lots of firms have remained in the planning phase longer than expected so this hasn’t always happened.

The increase in available candidates has continued to keep rates subdued, with only professionals possessing the most in demand or niche skill set being able to command the top level. Also, with the budget announcement at the end of October, there could be changes around IR35 which could have an effect on the contract market - watch this space for further updates.

3 top Projects & Change roles seen over the summer

  • Product Owner (London) - Helping a large UK bank deliver new products under Agile as part of a large transformation away from Waterfall. Salary: £170k base.
  • Programme Manager - Finance transformation at a UK international bank, overseeing major changes to core General Ledger. Rate: £800 per day.
  • Programme Manager - OTC Derivatives: at a large international bank, working on multiple changes related to both expansion and those required to deliver Brexit strategy. Rate: £720 per day.

Projects and Change Management jobs available

Ensuring success for the remainder of 2018

Hopefully with decisions being made imminently, this will lead to more stability and will allow for the all important future planning. It should also help push the banks and asset managers along with their hiring decisions as we move closer to the March deadline next year.

With the Projects & Change employment market remaining tight and with a large volume of people competing over the positions that are released, clients are increasingly looking for an exact match against their specific requirements. The best way for professionals to increase their chances of success is to ensure they are a strong match against any requirements they seek to progress.

Ensure that all relevant experience is the focus of your CV and that terminology used matches what is in the job description. It is more important than ever to put maximum effort into the application process, so work with your recruitment consultant to maximise your chances of converting opportunities into a placement.

Contributors to Q3 Projects & Change Management recruitment update

Mark Astbury's picture
Associate Director


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