Why good news is bad and bad news is good – Market update July 23

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Why good news is bad and bad news is good – Market update July 23

July 13, 2023
It’s hard for anyone to make sense of what’s happening, and this gives firms forecasting issues. Any good news simply prompts speculation over further rate rises.

Pay has been thundering upwards, unemployment is low, and whilst the UK is one of the few economies not to have grown past its pre-pandemic levels, the Governor of the Bank of England recently commented on the “unexpected resilience” of the UK economy – which in the new inflationary world is probably a negative. The REC and KPMG’s permanent placements index found that demand for workers continued to rise across both private and public sectors, with the exception of permanent roles in the private sector. The private sector is turning to temps whilst waiting for visibility on the economy, yet it’s hard for anyone to make sense of what’s happening, and this gives firms forecasting issues. Any good news simply prompts speculation over further rate rises.

It was recently reported that Robert Walters saw a drop in revenue, particularly in the UK, citing the high inflation and interest rate environment with tech and the financial sector taking a hit. It’s certainly noticeable how much quieter the fintech market is, but we haven’t seen mass layoffs in financial services. It feels very different than after the financial crisis, or the early days of the pandemic, when our phone rang off the hook with worried people. It’s actually quite hard in a short newsletter to give detailed assessments on hiring, as demand is often affected by service-line or asset class. Some teams seem frantically busy, but I suspect any business in any sector relying on debt financing for growth will be struggling. COVID loans will also be biting SMEs. I seem to have had more conversations around commercial property of late, which I also think is seeing a slowdown. Corporate recovery experts Begbies Traynor has seen an upturn in business.  Yet pay is still rising, banks aren’t yet seeing lots of mortgage arrears, and travel is still a bright spot in the economy. Experience tells me there will be some cash rich firms out there who will keep focusing on growth, who will outperform their “wait and see” peer group when things improve.

Regardless, I think interviews will be harder to come by for anyone looking for a new role. Certainly offers we’re receiving are more on the long-term average uplift of 10-15%, rather the 30% uplifts we often saw during 21/22. However, hirers frequently make the mistake of thinking that this will be a great time to find that “unicorn” they’ve been keen to hire for the last five years. However, we all know that unicorns don’t exist. As an example, if you’re planning to build a wealth management business by hiring advisers working in their bedroom who want to go back to employment, you’ll still take a very long time to build that business, despite market conditions. Candidates too lose confidence when headlines are bad, despite a downturn being the best time to look for a new role (as hirers are more thoughtful about hiring in a downturn). There is never equilibrium in the recruitment market!

Candidates though need to be prepared well for an interview, as the bar of the expectation has been raised. When jobs are plentiful, it’s easy to forget that (mostly) a vacancy has been created through someone else’s willingness to take risk, or their success which means they need support form someone else. It’s important not to lose sight of this when interviewing. Why am I focusing on this? Well too many people don’t ask why someone is hiring, what they consider success in the role to look like, what do they want someone to deliver. Interviews are a two-way street, an information exchange, and a chance to get into the detail of what the hirer is trying to achieve through this hire. Even replacement hiring is a chance to refocus or upgrade. If you think about the original purpose of a vacancy being created, you often get into the detail better. The two-way street, and balance in the situation, being, that you as a professional need to understand if you can work for the person with the opportunity, do your skills match up well, can you add value, and will you be appreciated for adding this value. A personal connection really matters, but too many candidates don’t ask enough questions about the role and business. You’d be surprised how often great candidates don’t get a role due to not asking enough questions. If you do find yourself attending an interview soon, then do think of some good questions would be my advice.

On another note, I think it’s a tough time to be a salesperson. Investors are sitting on their hands, buyers happy to stick with existing solutions. It’s a difficult time to manage a sales team and to keep colleagues motivated. I went to a great lecture during the financial crisis and the very successful speaker had one bit of advice for a downturn, and in short it was “get out and talk to people”. Everyone now needs to accept all sensible opportunities to meet others, and to find ways to do business. Humans are so ingenious about thinking about new ways of doing things, of seeing opportunities, but it’s unlikely that an opportunity will come to people sitting at home. Let’s flood the coffee shops, the bars, the meeting rooms, and let’s get talking - every slowdown eventually speeds up and you want to be there to capture it.

About Fram Search

Established in 2010, Fram Search is a specialist financial services recruitment consultancy. We focus on mid-to-senior hires in the UK and internationally.

We provide high quality contingent and retained recruitment services to boutiques and global brands. We have long established relationships, outstanding market knowledge, and access to deep talent pools. Fram takes a highly consultative approach, combining outstanding tech with a human approach. We are proud that our contingent fill rate is nearly three the industry average and we augment our retained search methodology with rigorous psychometric testing. We take ESG seriously, we are champions of diversity and all staff have undertaken unconscious bias training, we also carbon offset.

Please contact us on 01525 864 372 / [email protected] to learn more.

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