Fund Finance Recruitment in 2021: Year-end Roundup

12/13/20215 MinutesBy brickfield
2021 – Year in review

During 2020 when COVID seriously impacted the financial sector worldwide, we saw pent-up demand in the fund finance recruitment sector build steadily as banks and law firms implemented hiring freezes across the board. Fund finance teams found themselves in a difficult situation, as their sector continued to flourish while the need for increased headcount that this created could not be met due to the corporate-level policies.

As vaccines were rolled out globally at the start of this year, we saw the US market move first, with hiring freezes lifted more rapidly during Q1 and Q2 than in other markets – this was down to US banks already having been under staffing pressure prior to COVID, as well as an unexpected but welcome increase in demand for subscription finance products.

Q3 and Q4 has seen demand continue unabated from both banks and law firms, especially in the US and UK markets. Quality candidates for analyst and associate-type roles continue to be highly sought after, and, as we predicted in our Mid-Year Report, there has been an upward trend in the last six months in the number of VP, director and partner-level moves.

European and Asian markets, meanwhile, have seen less strong growth in their respective markets, and therefore are not yet in the same position to expand as their US and UK counterparts. We expect that greater demand from these markets will emerge in 2022, especially in Asia. With the uncertainty of COVID mostly behind us, Western banks are once more looking beyond their domestic markets towards opportunities elsewhere, while their law firms will also have to respond by also obtaining the necessary talent for those specific jurisdictions.

Hiring managers this year have also had to become more flexible in the negotiation process, with work from home policies now a significant factor, and compensation and bonus structures are under upward pressure due to a relatively restricted talent pool. Incumbent managers are also now recognizing that losing key team members during this period of growth has greater ramifications, and are proving more flexible, especially as regards bonus structures. Our sources at both banks and law firms believe that this situation will continue in the short to medium term, due to the fund finance market growing faster than the available pool of new talent with suitable specialist skills.

Earlier this year our clients and candidates all express a keenness to return to face-to-face meetings, and until the recent emergence of a new COVID strain, we found that more and more of our recruitment processes involved personal contact, especially in the autumn period. We expect that once the winter is over and infection numbers return to lower levels, that the market will quickly revert back from home working and return to personal contacts, at least for client meetings, interviews and induction-related matters.

Over the course of this year Brickfield has been working with clients and partners in fund finance on a variety of recruitment, talent sourcing and training projects, and we are optimistic that 2022 will be an even better year than this one has been for the industry. Not only are we working with our legal and financial clients on meeting their immediate needs, but we have all recognized that for the fund finance industry to continue growing and prospering, it needs to focus also on its long-term human resource needs and ensure that it is recognized by the current and future generations of young professionals as a career path with dynamism and opportunity within the financial or legal sphere.

We will be back after the New Year with an update on the latest market intelligence, and until then we wish our clients, partners, and friends the very best for the season. We look forward to working with you all in 2022.