Ben McShane - Director, Finance, Legal & Accounting
Ben is the Director of Cpl’s Financial Services Recruitment team which is the leading FS Recruitment team in Ireland. Our clients include Investment Managers, Banks, Consulting Firms, Insurers, Law Firms and Fund Services Providers. Prior to working in Cpl, Ben worked within Investment Management in a prestigious Private Bank and in Fund Services with one of the world’s largest Global Custodians.
Financial Services sector assessment
2021 has been a bumper year for recruitment with extremely elevated levels of candidate movement particularly during H2. As we moved out of the initial constraints of lockdown there was a clear backlog of hiring across the majority of Financial Services firms' country wide. The uncertainty of the Covid pandemic resulted in hiring taking a backseat for an indefinite period as the world came to grips with the situation and BCP stances were frantically arranged. Moving into 2021,nearly all Financial Services firms had successfully executed Work from Home strategies with several clients in the Fund Service spaces recording record breaking performances. Moving into H2 the backlog of hiring from 2020 was fuelling an increasingly competitive job market which is now at the point of critical talent shortages across the broader market.
The pillar banks have tentatively re-engaged in talent acquisition across the board, and we are also continuing to see new entrants to the market look for talent. A primary issue faced by the whole financial services sector is the lack of available talent. Ireland is experiencing a candidate shortage and there is a clear need for an influx of external talent to satisfy the demand.
What are the underlying forces at work in the Financial Services industry
As the candidate pool dwindles, candidates are now more aware of the fact that this is a candidate-driven market and there is a clearer desire and understanding to realise their full potential earnings. We are also finding candidates have been receiving multiple offers at the same time, which they have been using as leverage to get increased salaries & benefits packages or retention packages.
With the working from home model, candidates from around the country including areas with traditionally lower capacity to earn, have now been presented the chance to work for Dublin-based firms. This is driving up salaries and benefits across the country. And regional salaries in financial services have substantially increased. This is particularly apparent in the Cork market where demand for Fund Services professionals has increased exponentially.
What is attractive about the Financial Services industry for 2022
Working from Home
There is an abundance of Work from Home opportunities on the market at present. This provides the chance for candidates to move into areas that previously would have been unattainable due to their physical distance from the workplace. Most Financial Services roles are still based in Dublin. However, Cork and Galway have seen good growth in the number of roles available in recent years.
Dublin continues to thrive in financial services, as a real hub globally. Fund Services have been experiencing unprecedented growth and numerous large, global players continue to establish a foothold in this market. This fact has been complimented by the continued growth of existing firms. Consultancy firms have experienced exponential growth across payments, funds, banking, and regulatory functions.
The Management Company area has been booming in 2021. This space has been crucial in providing increased opportunities for candidates and offering alternatives to the traditional areas of growth like fund accounting where Ireland is recognized as a specialist hub. The influx of global Asset Managers successfully attaining their Management Company status has been a positive result of Brexit and is very much still to the forefront of the surge in employment demand.
Competitive salaries for candidates
Dublin is in the process of becoming more competitive globally when compared to international financial hubs. The traditional shortfall of salaries, when compared to other locations, is now being bridged.
What are the key issues facing the Financial Services industry in 2022
As mentioned, there is a notable candidate shortage. This is leading to increased pressure on firms to attain suitable talent for vacancies. Areas particularly affected by this are technical financial positions. The most in-demand role across the three main sub-sectors are Fund Accounting, Private Equality, and Real Estate. For Compliance is Fund/Asset management and for Risk they are Fund/Asset management and Payments/Fintech. The option of sponsorship or international searches will become critical to satisfy demand across the market and there has been more willingness to engage in this practice due to necessity.
Alternative benefits are increasingly popular. Companies who can offer their employees something different or make the firm stand out from competitors are a topical issue at present. Work-life balance is now at the forefront of a candidate’s minds when deliberating on a job offer. Flexible arrangements and more freedom can be used to motivate, retain, and attract staff. Other topics to note here are employee wellness programmes, alternative monetary benefits, including lunch allowance and educational assistance are becoming increasingly important.
What critical skills do companies need to develop for success in 2022
In Fund Accounting, over recent years there has been a shift in-demand for Private Equity and Real Estate Fund Accountants. This is a highly competitive area in the market and has been subject to substantial salary inflation. Due to reduced graduate intakes in 2020, the natural/internal development of talent has diminished placing additional pressure on firms to source talent externally and fuelling a highly competitive market.
Risk and Compliance continues to present an abundance of opportunities across Banking, Payments Funds, and Insurance. Regulatory pressures from the Central Bank of Ireland will continue to drive hiring across this area.
The speed of the recruitment process is essential. The level of competition for competent staff has never been higher. Due to this fact, the days where firms could engage in prolonged recruitment processes or facilitate any stalling is now effectively counterproductive as candidates have numerous opportunities presented to them.