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2012 Global financial services market trends

"Firms that can be faster and more flexible, and who remain competitive in compensation, do have a considerable advantage at this time."
In June 2012, we surveyed our banking recruiters working in Michael Page's global offices. The 175 respondents were from the following regions:
  • UK (35% of respondents): England excl. London, London, Scotland
  • EMEA (25% of respondents): Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE
  • The Americas (16% of respondents): Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, USA
  • Asia Pacific (25% of respondents): Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore

Market conditions and outlook

Recruitment volumes in the banking and financial sector dipped significantly in the first six months of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011.

Continuing negative press for the global/investment banking sector may impact movement of talent into the sector from outside, but the majority of hiring is, as always, between firms.
Within financial media specifically, talk is continually of job cuts and that is the dominant trend in certain business lines but does not apply across the board, with many functions still actively hiring.
Moving into the second half of the year, the sense has generally been of a slight improvement in the market conditions for banking recruiters. According to client feedback, from a recruitment perspective, the volumes of new hires in the second half are likely to be up on the first half, and perhaps the traditional tail off in Q4 may be reversed this year.
Whilst some global banks are reluctant to hire, others continue to recruit and our consultants attribute 36% of our year-to-date placements to bulge bracket firms. Emerging banks, domestic firms, and sell side boutiques are active. Buy side companies particularly are taking advantage of the market conditions to snap up strong talent. Recruitment levels in the insurance sector generally are up.

Skills in demand

Certain key skills remain in demand, predictably these tend to be in the sphere of governance and risk management. In a time when the sector is undergoing considerable change, project management and change management skills are also highly sought after. Unsurprisingly, our recruiters report a significant decrease in the number of front office assignments, particularly on the sell-side.

Challenges for hirers

When asked what challenges organisations are facing today in the hiring process, 93% of all the respondents commented that issues over sign off and budgetary constraints are elongating recruitment processes. The uniformity of this feedback suggests clients may not lose out to competitors who are in a similar position. However in some businesses the problems are exacerbated by the necessity to involve many more managers than normal, and also the sometimes incorrect instinct to make low-ball offers.
Firms that can be faster and more flexible, and who remain competitive in compensation, do have a considerable advantage at this time.

Pay rises

The levels of typical pay uplift on moving jobs show a general picture of reduced competition for talent. 64% of respondents stated that, for candidates not currently employed, clients will most often or always take the opportunity to offer a lower salary compared to a working candidate.


Off-shoring continues to impact certain hubs in Europe and Asia. In locations where we see an increase in demand due to the establishment or bolstering of off-shore functions, the majority of recruiters report an increasing number of senior roles being hired. Opinions were evenly split on whether turnover of staff is a problem in off-shored functions, with some specific companies faring better than others. Either way, there was broad consensus on the fact that there is no acute pressure or sharp rises in salaries in the off-shore functions.
To discuss market conditions or your hiring requirements, please contact your local Michael Page Banking & Financial Services team.