The economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created new investing opportunities as well as the need to adjust related strategies.
Since April, there has been an understandable reduction in new hires in the banking sector (retail, investment and corporate), however we’ve seen increased demand from other areas within investment management, including private equity, distressed debt, quant/algorithm trading and private wealth manager/family offices.
Businesses within these sectors have been actively hiring senior financial analysts and managers, mostly to facilitate increased volume. Senior financial controllers, mid and senior-level financial reporting and FP&A professionals across all levels of Controls and Audit are also in high demand.
On the operations side, we continue to see a spike in demand for good quality investment operations professionals with specific financial product knowledge, particularly from private wealth management firms and family offices that have seen many of their high net worth clients capitalizing on the depressed public equities market to invest aggressively during this time.
A number of small to medium sized investment management firms (<10-50 staff) were not prepared for the rapid change to remote working, and spent much of March trying to adjust their technology and HR capabilities to accommodate this transition for their current staff. This made the hiring of new staff almost impossible for many of these firms, however, in April and May, these businesses (along with those already set up for remote working) have shown a surprising ability to adapt to new work from home models and manage remote onboarding processes.
From an initial skepticism towards remote onboarding, we have seen a vast shift in attitude as firms realized that the skills gaps in their finance and operations teams remained, and even grew after the pandemic hit. Businesses have found creative solutions to onboarding and in some cases have improved their in-place onboarding processes for new starters. As social distancing measures persist, we expect to see a continued emphasis from businesses on improving these processes to ensure they can attract and retain top talent.
Salaries remained stable and consistent with pre-COVID levels, positive news at a time when other businesses such as legal private practice firms and technology start-ups were cutting salaries or moving staff to reduced hours. Some businesses offered alternative incentives (i.e. stock options) to the typical discretionary cash bonus, helpful for both short-term cash preservation and long-term staff retention.
Although many investment management firms already paid their 2019 bonuses before the pandemic hit, there is a widespread feeling that 2020 bonuses will be stagnant given the overall outlook for 2020.
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