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Why Market Volatility Means More Front Office Jobs

08 Oct 2020

John Howe

Why the pandemic has caused an increase in roles across investment management

It’s a worrying time for global stock markets. Between the Covid-19 pandemic, a political cold war between the US and China and dizzying number of economic indicators changing by the minute, the global markets have responded in a volatile manner. Ten months into the pandemic and markets have been reeling from the far-reaching social and economic disruptions caused as investors continue to grapple to cope with the multitude of effects the virus has inflicted.

Although, it must be said that many companies have done really well out of the pandemic we all find ourselves in, and it isn’t just the tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Alibaba that are cleaning up. Companies that operate in the energy space have also enjoyed a huge bounce in the initial two months of the pandemic (helped in part to the OPEC+ producers’ agreement). Elsewhere, companies in the healthcare, home improvement, credit card, consumer products across groceries, health and cosmetic have all enjoyed bumps in their stocks over the last 6 months.

Financial Services in Ireland

Unemployment figures may have risen due to the pandemic, particularly in sectors such as hospitality and retail. Other sectors are in cautious “wait and see” mode but market volatility has meant an influx of front office roles which is good news for those hoping to make their next career move in this sector. FX trading volumes soared on the back of market turmoil as they are forced to navigate challenging market conditions. Roles in investments, research & analysis (across predominantly fixed income and equities) have risen dramatically thanks to demand for staff. So too have roles in companies supporting the capital markets, such as trading operations, fund services, technology and infrastructure. While most of these roles have shifted to working from home, the market is still going strong and have created immense opportunities for those seeking to move up or into front office roles.

Type of roles

The roles are mostly in the core investment management industry whose members are involved in asset management (funds, private equity, investment research, and advisory services) and wealth management. Roles in demand include quantitative traders, investment specialists, research analysts, portfolio analysts, risk analysts and traders (including trading operations/support). While there are a considerable number of roles available at graduate level, the roles we’re seeing most demand for right now are at mid-level operations. There are a number of really exciting front office roles in Ireland right now and the demand is only climbing due, in part, to Brexit. These roles are not just limited to Dublin but also available in Kilkenny, Cork and Limerick amongst other locations.   

What’s required.

Employers tend to look for CFA Charterholder status as a pre-requisite for experienced staff (see  for more details). For graduates in non-quantitative roles, a degree in finance, accountancy, economics or commerce would be enough to get started. For quantitative roles, the minimum requirement usually would be a degree in a hard-science discipline such as physics, mathematics, statistics or computer science. Programming skills are essential for quant roles (usually Python, but Java, C/C++ are also common). A second European language would always be beneficial, especially in the larger organisations where stakeholders may be distributed across Europe/globally. Other vital skills include a strong interest in the financial markets, an ability to creatively problem solve, a keen commercial acumen and an ability to spot patterns as well as the ability to work collaboratively.

Recruiting during Covid19

As the demand is increasing for expanded staff numbers across the various financial services domains, employers have adapted to this “new normal”. While remote interviewing, on-boarding and training is now common in the larger entities, it is becoming increasingly the norm in smaller companies too. Their new employees, if not based in their offices, are being provided with all the equipment and technologies needed to work from home. Recruitment activity is showing no signs of slowing down in this sector, in fact, our data shows a steady increase in employment activity for finance-related hires across both financial services as well as corporate companies.

For the first time since March this year, we are seeing a lot of trends and indicators that suggest recruitment in financial services is beginning to enter territory that resembles October 2019 and thus closer to what we would normally expect for this time of year.

John Howe is Manager of Brightwater’s Banking division and recruits banking and financial services professionals of all levels. If you would like to have a confidential conversation with him, please contact him by email [email protected]  at + 353 1 592 7868