We're fast approaching the time of year when bonuses are in the bank and people in finance start to think about looking for new jobs. In 2022, the opportunities to move are likely to be more plentiful than ever, but some headhunters are quietly sounding a cautionary note about evaluating them too hastily.
"In a market like this, people are can be tempted to move jobs in an attempt to lock-in higher pay," says one London headhunter, speaking off the record. "But in many areas, there's simply not enough liquidity to move into a new job that both pays well and is genuinely a good long term opportunity."
The days when compensation is the main measure of a job opportunity in financial services are long gone. Success in a new financial services job is today increasingly contingent on the platform rather than the individual. This is why market share in sales and trading, for example, has become increasingly concentrated in houses with expensive platforms that attract clients and provide cross-selling opportunities. For the most part, these are found at the big U.S. banks, but they're also the electronic market makers like Citadel Securities or Jane Street. In M&A and corporate finance, success is increasingly about willingness to finance deals.
This is why headhunters say people who are serious about moving jobs now spend a lot more time evaluating new roles in the round. "The days of moving just because you're pissed off with your bonus are over," says one. "The bonus should only be one part of the package under consideration."
At first sight, this may be music to the ears of banks where lower than expected bonuses have raised eyebrows. However, it makes sense only if disappointing bonuses are combined with robust platform investments and a strong strategy, which for some of the banks that have already announced - or are still due to, does not appear to be the case.
Mostly, the new paradigm simply means that a lot more due diligence is advisable before switching jobs, particularly at a mid-to-senior level. This is all the more so in a market where revenues in many areas are likely to soften as the year goes on. Now is not the time to move into an expensive new seat at a bank that may be unable to sustain it come 2023-4. Couple this with candidates' expectations that they should work from home a few days' a week and banks' expectations that they'll be mostly in the office, and it's easy to see why post-bonus job changes may be more complex than simply chasing the extra $$$.
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