Market update – May 22

Simon RoderickMarket updates

Notes from the park - monthly updates
Notes from the park - monthly updates

Market update – May 22

The usual question we’re asked “where are you busy?” The same response as the last few months – everywhere. The latest market update from our MD Simon Roderick.
May 23, 2022

I’d like to say normality has returned, but I think we’re so far away from 2019 normality, and things are so intense, that I refuse to believe this is the new normal. Firms have pretty much now established their working patterns, perhaps some firms are increasing the time they expect people to be in the office, but it pretty much seems that wealth & asset managers are working hybrid, investment bankers are more office based, as are smaller funds.

There’s been lots of articles of late knocking the work from home (WFH)/hybrid model. Personally, I like being in the office, but my office is literally five minutes from my home. Would I be so keen if I had a three hour round trip, as I had when I worked on Regent’s Street? I’m not so sure. Equally, what works for me doesn’t work for others. I’m lucky to have a team who I trust, and my view is that it’s for the market and private sector firms to make their own decisions, and for politicians to decide for the civil service.

The usual question we’re asked is “where are you busy?” The same response as the last few months – everywhere. However, I’m delighted to say that some of our newer offerings are really taking off, namely: marketing, M&A, and investment roles in VC/PE. We too are hiring and we too at Fram are struggling to hire. The level of “busy” we are at is intense, but I sense when I talk to candidates and clients that “intense” has been en vougue now a couple of years. In fact, there was a bit of a slowdown on M&A earlier in the year, but I think it is more to do with taking a breather than the situation in the Ukraine, which was often cited in the press.

At the moment, there is a hiring frenzy and I’d urge the government to make it easier for skilled individuals to apply for working visas. I suspect on one level there may be some reluctance for fear of someone saying “Brexit was a mistake”, but taking a more positive view, this was one of the aims of the leavers, i.e. being able to control supply of workers, and now it’s time to make the UK as attractive as ever to talented people from overseas. Therefore, visa processing needs to be swift to react to the market. It would help with inflation too.

Whilst surveys show business leaders in many sectors are holding their line on pay, inflation is embedded in financial services and some other industries. My concern is that if firms can’t raise their prices, and if their costs increase at the current rate we’re seeing, many won’t be able to sustain themselves without a very generous parent company.

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However, the hiring frenzy I mentioned is bringing out the worst in a small minority. Whilst the vast majority are incredibly professional and courteous, the attention is bringing out the inner “diva” with some. The worst of behaviour includes phoning up days before starting a role to say they won’t be starting (despite having months to flag issues), asking for a change in working patterns after a deal has been agreed, making it as difficult as possible for firms to go back to some office working with threats of resigning, and simply not communicating at all with a potential employer whilst they line up other opportunities. It would be naïve to believe that people don’t go to work for money, but it’s incredibly short sighted not to treat the hiring firm with simple courtesy. Firms are made up of individuals, who invest significant time in a hiring process (often out of hours), it’s people and not a badge that are let down. The hiring market today is red hot, but we all know life is cyclical and you never know when you may need a job. Anyone who worked through the financial crisis will understand this point. As Warren Buffet says, “it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy one”.

We are managing to build shortlists for clients, but there are some occasions when it’s been hard. We now regularly speak to firms who haven’t had CVs for weeks/months for particular roles. I know from industry peers, they're getting worried that clients feel they aren’t trying, but they are – very hard.

I think when we look back at the pandemic years, we should all be incredibly proud. Life has been tough for many. A number lost their jobs in 2020, a larger number were terrified they’d lose their jobs, and since then it’s been all go. I can think of few people who haven’t worked a weekend or 10 since the pandemic arrived and it looks like we’ve got through.

However, I’m afraid it looks like lockdowns have left us with incredible supply chain difficulties, and therefore financial imbalances to deal with, and of course the effects of the dreadful war in Ukraine haven’t really filtered through yet, but we will get through these too. The next 12 – 18 months could be difficult, but perhaps then we really will get our much promised and much needed roaring 20’s.

Want an informal chat? Contact us on 01525 864 372 / [email protected].

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