City jobs market recovery driven by niche firms

A recovery in the City jobs market in January has been driven by more active hiring amongst small and medium sized banks and fund managers says Astbury Marsden, a leading financial services recruitment firm.

According to Astbury Marsden, there were approximately 4,050 City job vacancies in January 2012, up from 1,490 in December 2011. However, that is still 25% less than the approximately 5,420 City job vacancies created a year ago in January 2011.

Astbury Marsden says that whilst demand for staff from the biggest, universal banks, has yet to recover there is much more active hiring from younger, niche financial services firms and smaller banks looking to take advantage of the excess supply of highly qualified City staff.

Mark Cameron, Chief Operating Officer at Astbury Marsden says: “Some of the more nimble and ambitious City firms see the current market as a good opportunity to build their businesses and expand operations.”

“With recent widespread redundancy programmes and many of the biggest banks withdrawing their horns, many firms have realised that there is now a wide pool of talented bankers that they may not have been able to recruit a year ago.”

“Those employees that have stayed put for some time to see out the downturn will still be harbouring ambitions to move on.”

“Some City firms may also take the view that – as the downturn may have forced competing organisations to shrink and close down areas of their business – now is the time to capitalise and take on additional staff.”

Astbury Marsden says that some employees who would normally only move from one top flight bank to another are now more willing to accept job offers from smaller name, more ambitious employers.

Explains Mark Cameron: “A few of the larger banks have made a decision to take a far less active role in parts of the investment banking market – that has left staff in those areas looking for a more committed employer.”

Smaller firms creating the lion’s share of the City jobs market

Adds Mark Cameron: “Normally if you take a snapshot of the City recruitment market using the 80/20 rule, the majority of the jobs will be advertised by the Top Ten investment banks. The current climate has completely reversed that – now most of the new roles are coming from outside the Top Ten.”

“Smaller firms are now the ones creating the lion’s share of City vacancies. We saw a similar trend in 2008 when many of the smaller City firms saw the post Lehman’s crisis as an opportunity to swoop and pick up some very talented senior bankers.”

“It is far too early to say that this is the recovery we have been waiting for but it is encouraging to see the City respond with its usual entrepreneurial spirit.”

Astbury Marsden explains that some of the large banks are still continuing to review their overall corporate strategy. Operational budgets – which will traditionally be finalised towards the end of the calendar year – are still under consideration, which may also be contributing to more subdued hiring plans from the universal banks.



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