5 minutes with… Rory Smith, Brickfield

brickfieldBy brickfield11/19/20218 Minutes

Read The Drawdown’s interview with Brickfield Recruitment founder Rory Smith.

The Drawdown (TDD): What is Brickfield and what does it do?

Rory Smith (RS): Brickfield is the leading fund finance recruitment specialist. We focus solely on fund finance, across legal, banking, alternatives and private equity.

Companies use us because we can service the industry as a whole for a specific set of skills. For example, if a company is looking for sub lines, NAV or hybrid skills; whatever is needed to grow the fund finance team, those are our core candidates.

We’re based out of London but operate globally. The US is a big part of the market at the moment because it’s leading the drive in hiring.

TDD: How did the company come about?

RS: I got into the industry seven years ago when I teamed up with an individual in the fund finance space to produce the leading fund finance cross border legal publication. It is known as the pink book and was the first of its kind.

While building that out I got to know the industry from speaking to lawyers and attending the Fund Finance Association (FFA) conferences. That gave me the ability to gauge and listen to the community on the frustration they were experiencing around hiring new talent.

Teams were growing, but the traditional routes of recruitment weren’t sympathetic to the specifics of the fund finance offering. Firms looking to recruit were receiving numerous CVs and would either have to make do with someone that required retraining or would put off the process altogether.

I saw the opportunity to help service the fund finance market by offering a platform to match a candidate’s talent to the client’s needs.

TDD: How has it gone since then?

RS: It’s been phenomenal and hugely exciting! I’m sure any entrepreneur would agree; the start up phase is stressful – getting an industry to buy into a new service that didn’t exist before isn’t easy. We made sure to take it step by step, first by teaming up with select lawyers and banks to ensure the candidates placed were what the market was looking for.

After that, we could evidence that we were solving a problem and so have been steadily serving more banks, law firms and funds. Since then we’ve been growing every month with new clients and new candidates.

Beyond placing candidates, we have created a HR funnel where clients and candidates can come to Brickfield to understand the market and get career guidance.

TDD: The fund finance market seems to be unstoppable right now; what’s your take on how the industry is developing from a recruitment perspective?

RS: The market is growing as expected, especially on the talent side of things. The US is ahead of the game in this aspect as they came out of the hiring freeze quicker than other regions. I’m expecting to see more hiring in the UK and Asia over the coming months.

Based on what we’re hearing from law firms and banks, a large number are looking to grow in Asia, so I’m anticipating good growth there

Another observation is that as the market continues to expand and new entrants come in, concern is likely to grow around whether or not there is enough human resource to support that growth; particularly plug-and-play candidates to help sustain growth over the next five years.

With that, someone needs to lead the charge on attracting new talent into the fund finance market. At Brickfield, we play a huge role in doing this through multiple initiatives including marketing and interviewing leading figures in the industry to show that careers can be built in this space.

TDD: Too much growth is a good problem to have, what are the major challenges you face?

RS: The biggest challenge we face is to break down barriers within the recruitment market. To educate the client or HR manager that the service we provide isn’t the classic recruitment service. We provide additional headcount to fund finance teams, providing information and intelligence to help plan for future growth.

The placements we make are based on culture and ambitions, not solely on skills. The talent we work with already has the skills, so we remove the headache of sifting through CVs – that’s where we pride ourselves.

Our biggest obstacle is getting that message across; that we can streamline the process to save everyone time when hiring. We know who’s looking for a new role now or in six months; what positions are available; who’s active and looking to move – the intelligence we have is very exclusive. We’re the only people in the world exclusively focused on this; we are the real specialists.

And the demand is there, firms are hiring and we have candidates to fill those needs. We’re not looking to come in and service other parts of the business, we’re purely about fund finance.

TDD: What are your plans over the next 12 months?

RS: We’re looking to expand and increase our headcount so we can take on more clients and serve them better. We’re expecting good growth in Europe where we’re anticipating a rush to market. And we’re really excited about growth in Asia over the long term. There are lots of opportunities for us as the market grows.

TDD: Why is the fund finance market so unique?

RS: The fund finance community is very strong. I have been mentored by one individual in particular, who has been instrumental in growing this market. It’s an industry made up of competitors but it’s very collegiate, and that’s really important. The community in place is very special, and the FFA plays a huge role in leading that. It’s a great market to be in for someone wanting to build a career; to be involved in something really exciting.

The Drawdown’s original interview with Brickfield Recruitment founder Rory Smith can be found here.