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Hiring in professional services for finance rising Back
Legal and accountancy roles in financial services are up in areas such as funds
There was a notable increase in recruitment activity by law firms in financial services during Q2 2010, particularly in the larger institutions. Although the volume of positions available remained low, we saw a more decisive approach to recruitment as organisations became more confident in adding headcount. Similar to Q1, solid top tier private practice experience and excellent technical knowledge were vital to securing a new role. Most hires were at a senior level and individuals with both private practice and in-house experience were sought after. In terms of specific skill sets, funds experience (particularly UCITS) was in demand. We also saw increased demand for solicitors with a background in capital markets, banking and litigation.

The recruitment process remained protracted, as sourcing the highest calibre of candidate with a strong mix of both technical expertise and commercial acumen proved challenging. Generally there was a minimum of three to four interview stages as more stakeholders were involved in each hire, and organisations with efficient recruitment processes secured the best talent. The amount of fixed term contract positions has reduced in comparison to the first half of 2010 as more organisations grow confident taking on permanent hires.

Competition at the junior end was high and solicitors with one to three years’ PQE across all areas of law saw salaries remain low. We anticipate this to remain the case for 2010. Senior solicitors have not seen any increase in salary, and job security plus work/life balance have been key factors when looking for new opportunities. However, legal professionals with exceptionally strong experience in financial services regulation are in a positive position regarding salary negotiation.

There were pockets of activity in H1 2010 within the accountancy, professional services, corporate/business banking and asset management sectors. Demand for qualified accountants from practice with hands-on financial/management accounting experience continued. The majority of opportunities at the senior end were in regulatory departments, focusing on prudential reporting and liquidity management, a trend we anticipate will continue in 2010. Graduate/junior level hiring remained fairly limited, although certain sectors (mainly the professional services firms) were still actively seeking top calibre junior candidates to join their training programmes.

The contract sector for accountancy professionals continued to show signs of growth, with increasing requests for newly qualified/one to two years’ PQE candidates. Many organisations sought candidates with specific industry experience, systems and/or product knowledge who were able to add immediate value to the business. Accountancy experience in demand included strong IFRS knowledge, experience of multinational companies, project based experience where systems have been implemented, or cost saving exercises in conjunction with the day to day accounting role.

The 10 – 15 % salary cuts made by many of the professional services firms have remained with some firms slowly reinstating salaries back to 2008 levels, with a small number reintroducing bonuses. Performance-related bonuses have returned to many non-professional services firm’s with the vast majority being limited to within the 8 – 15 % range for accountancy and finance staff.

Salaries for contracts have remained on a similar level to permanent salaries throughout the H1 2010 and retention bonuses, paid out at the end of a contract, began to be introduced. This is primarily to ensure that contractors commit to the full term of the contract, as more permanent opportunities become available.
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