Three recruiters talk about hiring at investment management and mutual fund firms

Hiring is down, but not out, at investment management and mutual fund firms.

That’s according to three Boston-area recruiters I queried recently.

“Overall, hiring in the mutual fund industry is down sharply from where it was 3 years ago,” said Charles O’Neill, principal, Diversified Management Resources. His firm’s Mutual Fund Careers website scans openings from online sources and offers an online job search tool.

Michael Kulesza, managing director of Horton International‘s Boston office, emailed me that “Despite the turmoil in the stock market, hiring does continue, but at a slower rate.  What is interesting is the hiring is most vibrant at smaller asset management firms vs. the largest firms.  We are working with several Asset Managers whose focus is Endowments, Foundations and Family Offices.”

O’Neill said the roughly 7,000 online job openings in the mutual fund industry include nearly 4,000 in sales and relationship management and 1,500 in compliance and operations. “About 500 postings require or prefer candidates who are Chartered Financial Analysts,” he added.

Marketing professionals face a tough environment. “The count for marketing-related positions is down very sharply—perhaps because many companies continue to view marketing as an expense rather than as a revenue-generator,” said O’Neill.

Jerry Grady of the Ward Group, an executive search firm specializing in marketing and communications professionals, agrees that demand for mutual fund marketers is soft. However, firms are showing interest in marketers who can think strategicallyfor example, segmenting a channel and creating different value propositionsas they target intermediaries.

Grady also sees a shrinking of the divide between mutual fund product management and marketing. Some firms seek product managers who can think like marketersand vice versa. At these firms, it is not enough for product managers simply to be able to communicate with portfolio managers. If this trend continues, mutual funds will become more like consumer packaged goods, where product management and marketing are combined.

Looking forward, here’s what O’Neill predicts. 

Most employers seem to be in a wait and see mode for now. But further, sharp declines in the equity markets will require a total recasting of money managers’ budgetsand at that point, all bets are off. It is not inconceivable that industry employment levels—through attrition as well as potential layoffs on a large scalecould result in a much smaller, more compact business than we’ve seen in many years. 

What’s YOUR take on investment management hiring trends? Please leave a comment.

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