Career moves in fund finance: Should I stay or should I go?

brickfieldBy brickfield04/07/20216 Minutes

The emerging mood of the fund finance industry in 2021 is leaning towards optimism and innovation, and we are currently seeing the fund finance teams we work with at both banks and law firms actively seeking talent at all levels to meet their expected needs as the hoped-for global bounce back arrives next year.

This positive outlook for the market, combined with new products and new types of client, presents potentially huge opportunities for fund finance practitioners to elevate their careers or move in a new direction. And the actual positions are out there – for example, all the major fund finance law firms in New York and London are currently using Brickfield’s services to recruit associates for their teams.

Hiring managers and HR departments have a sense of urgency about them too. They want the right people in front of them (which is our job to provide) and then decisively make the optimal choice. And they expect candidates to be decisive too, which means potentially having to make life-changing decisions quickly, and in today’s global health environment, often without physically meeting the other party.

There are several issues that we find candidates consider insufficiently, which are particularly relevant in the current climate.

For the more experienced individual, the thought of moving to a new shop is daunting enough, but for those in the first few years of their career – and especially in their first job – it is a giant step into the unknown. Being able to evaluate your own fear of the unknown is a huge asset. Are you changing your mind and accepting the counteroffer your current employer just gave you because you really believe it is the better option for you and your career, or are you taking it because you are relieved to avoid the stress of leaving and setting up elsewhere?

Indecision is a problem we sometimes see, and in some extreme cases it can be damaging to a career in a specialized field such as fund finance. Taking a move to the offer stage, announcing your departure to your colleagues then reversing course may win you immediate favour with management for averting the need to recruit a replacement, but what does it telegraph to the market about you?

The aforementioned counteroffers need also to be carefully considered. For example, we have recently seen law firms give candidates dedicated fund finance roles in order to retain them, but how will this affect their future promotion within the firm, especially if it does not have a discrete fund finance practice group? Internal rules and policies can and do change over time, and at worst you can be left chasing the carrot that ever dangles just out of reach.

Developing a realistic appreciation of your own capabilities is also difficult for many of us. We sometimes see candidates who have conversations with several firms who have all passed, and they don’t know why. More often than not, it is because they are content in the role they are in, or don’t have the range of experience or appetite for change the hiring manager is looking for.

To those people, we ask them to compare their present role to those they interviewed for, to consider the interviewers’ questions and ask themselves if a career inside their current firm would be less stressful than a new environment with a new set of demands and values. Setting up shop somewhere new every few years isn’t for everyone, and many great careers in law and finance have been carved out by decades-loyal directors and partners.

Most of us doubt ourselves more than we should, and we all at some time look back and wonder what would have happened if we had made that call or sent that email and started a conversation. Exploring the market now and then has no downside, particularly in times of market dynamism, and can result in opportunities arising that can add a lot of value to your bottom line and your personal brand. It is all too easy after a few years in a job to fall into the trap of restricting your sight to inside your own organization and taking your eye off the horizon. In fund finance, the opportunities are out there for the taking more than ever – for those that seek to find them.

Brickfield is the only international talent acquisition specialist dedicated to fund finance. If you are seeking to grow your fund finance team or if you are looking to move to a new position in the space, contact Rory Smith at Brickfield Recruitment by email at [email protected] or by telephone on +44 7800 963 594.