Recruiters working in the world’s main financial centers are generally seeing an uptick in their prospects this quarter. Bonuses have been paid, more candidates want to move, and banks are opening up more roles than they were a year ago.
But that doesn’t mean the recruitment game has suddenly become straightforward. Consultants still have a lot of challenges to contend with even as the job market recovers. Here are some of their big pain points for the second quarter.
Zoom fatigue has set in across the recruitment industry. “One of our challenges is still not being able to meet any of our clients and candidates in person. While video conferencing has proved a suitable stopgap, it doesn’t replace the real thing. Historically, we’ve always found it easier to build trust from face-to-face meetings,” says James Findlay, relationship director at Selby Jennings in London. There are upsides of remote working, however. “Most financial institutions now have to offer some form of flexible working to be competitive, and this has opened up a whole new talent pool of candidates who previously couldn’t commit to five days a week in the office,” he adds.
Competition between banks
Hiring has increased across all disciplines in banking this year because of headcount expansion or a backlog of unfulfilled roles from 2020, says Lucky Nguyen a senior manager at Robert Walters in New York. While this is good news for recruiters overall, it also means their candidates could be hired by banks they don’t represent. “Many banks are looking for similar specializations simultaneously. Candidates with specialized experience are often able to choose from multiple potential employers during their job search. Consultants are helping employers understand how to differentiate themselves during the interview process and deliver the best experience for candidates, so they’re able to attract the best talent,” he adds.
Counter offers are an inevitable consequence of the warming job market in banking, and they’re the bane of a recruiter’s existence. Counters are happening “almost all the time” this year, especially in hot job sectors such as wealth management, technology, digital banking, data analytics, and compliance, says Gary Lai, a managing director at Charterhouse Partnership. If a bank loses someone in a tech role, for example, it’s going to be hugely challenging and expensive to hire a new person in a competitive job market,” says Lai. Most pay rises attached to counters simply match what the new employer is willing to pay, although some exceed that salary by up to 10%.
Candidates pushing too hard on pay
“There’s still a level of unrealistic expectations from candidates who demand salary increments which are not aligned with market norms. This is jeopardizing both their chances of having an initial conversation with the recruiting HR team and inking an offer towards the tail end of the recruitment process,” says Marie Tay, managing director of The Resolute Hunter in Singapore. “Having a heart-to-heart talk with the candidate helps to bridge this issue, as does properly advising the client to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page,” she adds.
Relocating people based overseas
“Attempting to move candidates internationally with the ever-changing Covid landscape is challenging. To ensure these factors don’t become issues in a recruitment process, overcommunication and education of both the candidate and client is key,” says Findlay from Selby Jennings, adding that his firm has seen an increase in demand for locally-based candidates in both Frankfurt and London. In Singapore, the government is prioritizing the hiring of citizens and permanent residents. “The greatest challenge we face in the banking sector is securing the best local talent for our clients,” says Paul Newell, business director at Hays in Singapore. “In particular, we see strong demand for front-office positions across retail, corporate and investment banking. Experienced local candidates with niche skills are in high demand,” he adds.
Banks with slow hiring processes
Large banks may be doing more hiring than they were a year ago, but the speed of their recruitment processes can still be tiresomely slow. This risks candidates being hired by fintech firms, which can typically make job offers more quickly. “Global banks are reviewing the way they interview and select new talent, which has led to more checks and balances in the overall selection process,” says Tay from The Resolute Hunter. “On the other hand, small companies or those that are leaner in their hierarchy and structure, especially fintechs, tend to be more nimble and agile in their recruitment processes,” she adds.
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