Why Specialists are Growing Fast

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Fram has experienced an extremely busy period during 2014, which is reflecting the improved optimism felt by our clients in the wealth and asset management industries. Having weathered some very difficult storms over the last 5+ years, meetings now centre on hiring individuals to help capture growth opportunities. Expansion strategies, which went on hold for a significant period of time, now seem to be back in focus and recruitment activity is high.

There has been huge demand across most areas we cover. Private Banks are keen to attract highly skilled Relationship Managers to operate in a very different landscape than during the noughties, tax product providers are continuing to grow, financial adviser firms are expanding having negotiated RDR, and most recently we have seen an increase in activity in institutional sales hiring by asset management.

In particular, it seems that SME’s are performing particularly well. In PWC’s 2011 Global Private Banking and Wealth Management Survey they stated that ‘today’s client is cautious, smart, less loyal, and expects excellent service and clear value’. Certainly, it accurately reflects anecdotal stories we hear from those working in boutiques, who suggest clients are more open than pre-credit crisis to working with specialists and, more often, boutique firms. In addition, client bases seems to be growing fast in SMEs due to better market conditions generally, clear client segmentation, and tailored service offerings, and banks becoming leaner and more risk adverse. However, one significant shift we have seen in the market is senior market professionals willingness to consider working for a boutique. Often disappointed with their earnings over the last few years and speed of response to clients’ needs, many high performers have been attracted to boutiques, who are able to offer clear remuneration and flatter management structures.

It is the ability to attract experienced individuals with existing client relationships, which has helped many businesses transform. Often hiring a key individual or team is still seen as one of the best, and most cost efficient, ways of increasing market share or entering a new market. Firms are also perceived to have lean business processes, which enable client facing people to spend time working with clients, rather than on administration.

The shift away from “one-stop-shop” providers has also been reflected in our own industry. It was the fashion for many years for clients to form relationships with a small number of recruiters, who would attempt to fulfil all of a clients recruitment needs. However, post crisis and with a need to identify people with very specific skill sets many firms are realising the benefits of working with specialist recruiters. Not only do specialists have an in-depth understanding of the industry, they also have better access to a well developed and relevant talent network, which can be accessed quickly. The specialist recruiters in-depth market knowledge means that candidate screening is better, and clients save time by interviewing high calibre candidates.

Fram expects recruitment activity to remain busy for the rest of 2014. It is the firms who invest in training and developing their staff to cope with the recovery, and the demands of their clients’ new requirements, who will suffer the least amount of staff turnover.

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