US mid-market: The hunt for fund finance talent is on

09/02/20215 MinutesBy brickfield
US mid-market: The hunt for fund finance talent is on

Rory Smith, founder of Brickfield Recruitment, a talent acquisition company focused on the fund finance sector, discusses the robust demand for new recruits at all levels in the US mid-market.

Originally published in Private Equity International

Recruitment activity in the mid-market space is close to reaching pre-pandemic levels, which is a trend we predicted at the beginning of the year when the global vaccination effort took shape.

Confidence has returned among banks at the institutional level, and they are moving on from the holding pattern they took up during last year, and beginning to carry out delayed projects as well as planning ahead for growth.

Robust market means upswing in talent demand for banks

As a result, the availability of fund finance talent is being squeezed by this market upswing, especially for certain positions in the mid-market.

There has also been a great deal of pent-up demand for new recruits within the fund finance teams at many US banks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many banks implemented institution-level policies restraining new hires, despite the fund finance market remaining robust and busier than pre-pandemic levels.

Those banks, however, have now started to take their foot off the brake while moving more attention towards certain teams – such as fund finance – that have been performing well. Given that fund finance has been one of the star performers for many banks, they are now being more open-handed with budgets when it comes to those who delivered during the tough times of 2020.

Fund finance teams have been ready to hire for some time, and we are finding that many are very responsive during the process, having only been waiting for the green light from above.

During the last year, due to the continued health of the fund finance market despite COVID-19, hiring continued at pace, but activity was more focused than usual at the VP level and below, as banks went into maintenance mode. However, we are now seeing more hiring budget being directed to the more senior levels.

Here come the rainmakers

In tandem with this, banks are now also looking at bringing on more senior rainmakers that can build their fund finance departments and meet ambitious growth targets.

These senior hires are also notable in the context of returning to in-person meetings. We are now seeing banks increasingly meet candidates face-to-face, as they realize that the virtual meeting is no substitute for the real thing when making key appointments. We expect this trend to continue until banks find the in-person/virtual balance they each feel most comfortable with.

We are getting a lot of inquiries from candidates about working from home policies, and questions as regards whether vaccinations are mandatory at their prospective bank. Few banks have set policies in place as to working from home, instead what we are seeing is a more gradual return to the office among fund finance teams, with a long-term work from home policy yet to be determined.

There has also been acknowledgement that many client facing roles will probably not have the luxury of working from home, simply due to the convenience of meeting clients and also mentoring other individuals within the team.

Banks to continue headcount growth

Fund finance is becoming a ‘go to’ product in the investment world. Given that the fund finance market, especially at the mid-level, performed exceptionally well, it is well-placed to ride the wave of recovery this year and beyond at potentially outpace expectations.

Clients expect the growth we have seen in the last two years to continue for several more to come, bringing mid-market banks the challenge of recruiting talented and experienced fund finance individuals that have had training and experience in the sector specifically, as opposed to newcomers from other banking disciplines that would require extensive training.