Risk, Quant Jobs in Boston

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Boston's financial job market appears to have been less impacted by credit-market turmoil than other regions, but it hasn't escaped entirely.

Nathan Strange, a partner with Chicago-based BCI Financial Recruiting who serves clients in the Bay State, says Boston's no better or worse than other parts of the U.S. Pay, he says, is "slightly lower than NYC but competitive with other major metro areas on the East Coast."

Among the skill sets especially in demand are risk management and analysis, Strange says. That view is backed up by Jim Geiger, vice president with Analytical Recruiting, a New York-based specialty firm. Geiger recruits extensively in the Boston area.

"Boston has always been a buy-side city, very strong on the equity side," he says. "There seems to be lots of activity in the hedge funds, (creating a) significant need for quantitative portfolio managers."

Such jobs require technical sophistication - a Ph.D. helps - and good communications skills, a combination that's difficult to find. A finance background isn't even necessary, according to Geiger. "They are open to bringing people in from the scientific world who have these kinds of skills," he says. However, candidates must be able to explain the complicated models they create. "It's not the easiest thing," Geiger observes. "You can always find people with quantitative skills, but the trick is to find them with product knowledge and outstanding communication skills."

Top performers can command seven-figure salaries while lower-level employees can get $300,000 to $500,000 a year.

Large investment banks are also in need of experienced risk managers. Finding people with a background in fixed income is especially difficult because that's not a large business in Boston as it is in other cities, such as New York.

Demand for traditional accounting jobs also remains strong, says Tennille Hall, area vice president for Boston-based recruiter Ajilon. Hall is seeing an especially strong need for experienced tax professionals. "I think I have better news than most people," she observes in an interview.

So far, New England is holding up fairly well in handling the current economic slowdown. In January, the region's unemployment was 4.6 percent, below the national average of 4.9 percent. And though some Boston area candidates are starting to look outside of New England, many would prefer not to leave - especially when there's a chance the Red Sox may repeat as World Series champions.

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