The market for projects professionals in the first three months of 2015 has been solid and consistent overall with many organisations hiring at moderate to strong levels. However, there have been significant variations in demand for different skill sets and subject matter expertise.
The demanding regulatory/compliance landscape is still driving the majority of project hiring for both contract and permanent roles. As the focus of this regulatory book of work has changed over time, so has the subject matter in demand from organisations.
Here is an overview of the main functions for projects professionals within banking and asset management:
Front office projects
The focus of the project hiring in this space remains most heavily on front office controls and conduct risk programmes, with other expertise in areas such as margin changes still being sought after.The majority of projects teams run from FO COO functions have also been actively hiring – this has been more heavily for permanent roles, but there has been a demand for contractors too. Salaries and contract rates have been similar to 2014, aside from those with specific compliance programme subject matter expertise who can attract a premium (see below compliance section).
This remains the most active market sector by some margin. Many of the largest current programmes are responses to deferred prosecution agreements regarding compliance breaches and shortfalls. The increased regulatory spotlight on the banking and financial sector that has arisen from these breaches means that even institutions that to date have not been singled out for censure are still maintaining a focus on this.
Throughout most of 2014 the focus of this area was most heavily on KYC subject matter and related data, yet so far in 2015 there has been a broadening of the skills in demand. This includes a greater proportion of FCC, AML, sanctions, control room and conduct risk experience in addition to KYC. Compliance data and client reference data remains a hot topic from data architecture right through to testing and shows no sign of slowing. Rates in this area have been increasing in 2015 at the same pace as in 2014.
The core finance change areas have been amongst the least buoyant functional areas for project hiring. Traditional projects roles within product control, financial control and management accounting have been very thin on the ground. Certain specialist skills remain in demand such as IFRS 9 and there has been a moderate number of roles in regulatory finance/ liquidity projects.
The only area of expertise in relatively high demand has been within the risk and finance data functions for (BCBS239) data aggregation programmes. Salaries have been flat in this area and contract rates in general have actually dropped in comparison to 2014 levels as jobseekers have struggled to re-enter the market in the new year and been forced to be lower their rate expectations.
The market for projects professionals in the first three months of 2015 has been solid and consistent overall with many organisations hiring at moderate to strong levels.
These areas have seen good stable demand thus far in 2015 although not as high as 2014 which was very busy throughout. The market in 2014 was heavily dominated by EMIR and Dodd Frank programmes particularly for central clearing and trade reporting workstreams. These programmes are largely mature and will not be increasing headcount in 2015. MiFID2 has provided a continued and related book of work that many organisations have been migrating their existing teams to work on. As a result, many of the resources for MiFID2 have come though the internal mobility of existing resources.
Margin, clearing and collateral skills continue to be in demand but hiring has been steady and job volumes in this space are not as high as anticipated. A number of companies continue to focus on increasing the permanent to contract ratio within their teams. Rates and salaries have been generally flat in this area compared to levels seen in 2014.
Group change/internal consulting/cross functional areas
Depending on the organisation, these functions are organised differently but they have all had a busy start to 2015. There has been a strong demand for both contract and permanent professionals within retail and corporate banking programmes, particularly lending programmes. Jobseekers with backgrounds in external consulting are perennially in demand in these functions and continue to be the focus of continued hiring, as do those with Lean and Six Sigma expertise.
The ‘next big thing’ in this space is almost certain to be the response to the Vickers report, regarding investment bank segregation/ring fencing – a couple of organisations have already been hiring for the initiation of these programmes.
The scale of this is still unclear but initial expectations are that organisations will require significant resources. The specific skills that will be sought after are also not yet well defined although with the balance sheet and legal entity segregation implications of the report there may be an increase in demand for finance change professionals to address this.
Q1 activity has been particularly driven by requirements for stress testing as organisations have prepared for the new scenarios released on 30th March. Enterprise stress testing functions continue to increase the size and capability of their teams in areas such as stress testing risk infrastructure, risk data governance and modifying current and future stress models. Hybrid projects professionals who have both project experience and technical risk expertise are becoming more sought after as firms try to reduce their dependence on consultancies to deliver their stress test results.
Market risk programme activity has been skewed towards risk engines development and data aggregation (BCBS239) projects. Operational risk’s project focus has been around 3rd party vendors/contract management, better senior board and committee reporting. Rates in risk are increasing in 2015 but many contractors took a reduction in 2014 so are simply regaining lost ground. Salaries are generally on a moderate upward trend for those in key areas of demand.
Buy side projects
On the back of a busy 2014, the first quarter of 2015 has been slightly more muted than expected. As with the banking operations market, a heavily regulatory focused book of work has required little additional headcount on predominantly mature programme teams in areas such as EMIR and AIFMD. MiFID2 has seen some demand as have compliance programmes - especially in the businesses associated with larger banking groups. Most demand this year however has been for more general business upgrade programmes such as new or improved CRM and OMS systems. Projects to implement changes in 3rd party providers for TA and fund accounting have shown consistent hiring levels and are likely to continue to at moderate levels for some time yet.
Rates have predominantly been stable, as have salaries, although the traditional hotspots still exist especially around specific technologies in the OMS market such as Cadis and Charles River where competition is fierce and rates high. Overall, the market has picked up steadily but consistently throughout 2015 so far and this is expected to continue in Q2. The majority of organisations are indicating some additional headcount requirements as well as attrition replacement.
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