There are glimmers of hope in the investment management hiring outlook for 2010, especially for job applicants who help to generate revenues or who are in an area where cuts have been too deep. That’s what I gathered from exchanges with three observers, Michael Kulesza, managing director of Horton International‘s Boston office; Bob Gorog, partner in CT Partners’ Boston office; and Michael Evans, president, FUSE Research Network in Boston. This updates my 2008 posts, “Three recruiters talk about hiring at investment management and mutual fund firms” and “Who’s hiring CFA charterholders.“
“I do sense an uptick in hiring for 2010,” said Kulesza. “Many companies scaled back heavily, so now they and are planning to add people to their organizations.” That’s particularly true in the areas of sales, new business development, mutual fund wholesalers, and advanced sales support, he said.
Smaller firms hiring to grow market share
Small- to medium-sized firms are hiring more aggressively than bigger firms, added Kulesza. They’re taking advantage of large-company layoffs to upgrade their staff and to increase market share.
Given the big banks’ involvement with mergers and TARP funds, some smaller banks see an opportunity to expand their high-net-worth businesses. “Customers are gravitating toward more local or regionalized high-net-worth services,” he said.
Aside from these sales and marketing opportunities, Kulesza believes there may be additions to investment research and analysis. “Back office operations will stay lean,” he said.
Privately held and mutual companies are freer to take advantage of hiring and market share expansion opportunities, said Kulesza, because they aren’t answerable to the stock market. Meanwhile, it will take four to five years before investment management hiring returns to its previously high levels, he predicted.
Some niches offer more opportunities
“The better firms are coming back into the market,” said CT Partners’ Gorog. On the investment side, he sees more searches for international equities than for domestic equities. Opportunistic hiring is also happening in fixed income areas such as credit and distressed debt.
Some hedge funds are beefing up their distribution. They’re trying to upgrade their clients to include institutions as well as the high-net-worth, fund-of-fund, and family office clients with whom hedge funds typically launch. Funds that have survived three years and delivered decent relative performance over that period figure they have a good shot at expanding their client base.
Hiring in product management
Fuse’s Evans shared the hiring outlook uncovered by the firm’s recent research report on product management at asset management firms. His comments are reproduced below with his permission.
Increased Activity – Two areas in which product leaders anticipate increased activity is improving web content and capabilities, and hiring of additional staff. A review of firm websites indicates that much of the research and marketing content is dated. In terms of the actions listed, improving web content and capabilities was among the least time-consuming and least expensive actions firms could take, but its impact could be great in that it would signal to advisors and investors that the firm is moving forward.
In terms of hiring, firms indicated a strong desire to add back staff. Fully 50% of respondents indicated that they plan to hire in 2010. When asked the areas to which they planned to add staff, responses included:
· Product managers
· Marketing managers
· Junior product managers
· Manager research/due diligence
This suggests that firms may be feeling the burden of carrying out new organizational initiatives using skeleton staffs. Recent analysis by Russell Reynolds Associates concurs that hiring should resume in 2010; particularly on the sales and marketing sides of organizations, as these were among the hardest hit in terms of headcount reduction.
For wealth managers and financial planners
Wealth management professionals and employers should check out Bill Winterberg’s “Your Next New Hire: By Providence or Planning?” Bill lists some resources that may help both job hunters and those who are looking to hire. He also links to some trade publications suggesting that hiring in this arena will pick up in 2010.
By the way, Winterberg hopes that operations hiring is more robust than Horton International’s Kulesza suggests. “If anything, firms need to support additional capacity ahead of growth, rather than hire after growth exposes bottlenecks in operations.”
Good luck to all of you job hunters out there!
JAN. 12 UPDATE
If you’re willing to be interviewed by a reporter–and you fit the criteria mentioned below–please contact Emma Johnson at the email address she provides.
“Hey Wall St., what’s the job market really like? For a story, looking for those currently or recently employed in finance to comment on job outlooks. Anonymous sources OK. firstname.lastname@example.org“