As the credit markets continue to deteriorate and large financial institutions tighten controls, a number of Chicago firms are seeking risk management professionals in many specialties.
"Risk management is certainly an area where there is hiring," says Gene Starr, president of New York-based E. D. Starr & Company, a recruiting firm that specializes in management consulting and risk management. "Risk management is counter-cyclical and right now there is a strong need." He sees positions open in Chicago, but notes hiring is strong nationwide.
"Risk management right now is certainly booming," agrees Stuart Rosenthal, vice president of compliance at Legend Global Search, Inc., another New York City recruiting firm that works frequently in Chicago. "There are jobs and soon (there'll) be more."
Areas of Need
Risk management is an important function in numerous types of firms and in various areas including credit, market risk, and enterprise risk management.
While demand is declining in trading and structured products, says Starr, there has been an uptick in hiring in areas of portfolio-level risk management and enterprise risk management. Needs go "beyond mortgages," as most financial institutions are assessing capital usage, capital allocation and other risk factors, says Starr.
Positions are open both within financial institutions and accounting firms that serve them. The Big Four firms have numerous positions listed online, including openings for jobs such as Quality & Risk Management Manager, Enterprise Risk Management Advisors, and Business Risk Services Manager.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is also seeking candidates for Risk Management Specialists.
Another recruiter, who declined to be named, has seen several positions for risk management in foreign exchange. In the FX market, candidates may be responsible for credit, market, and enterprise risk.
Toward More Regulatory Pressure
Trading firms and hedge funds, which are numerous in Chicago, are "not as far along the curve as major banks," on the risk management side, says Starr. On one hand, they haven't suffered the losses banks have due to credit problems. On the other, he sees an industry-wide trend toward stricter regulations in risk management. "Basel II, the Federal Reserve and the SEC are placing increasing emphasis on best practices in risk management," he says. Banks and broker-dealers are feeling the pressure and he suspects trading firms, hedge funds, and asset management firms may also come under increased examination in the future.
One compliance officer at a Chicago broker-dealer confirms Starr's hunch, saying his firm is seeing increased scrutiny.
Because risk management jobs differ considerably depending on the firm and area of specialization, insiders say it's hard to generalize about what constitutes an ideal job candidate. However, Starr says most firms seek qualified professionals who have been in the field since getting out of college or business school. "It's not an easy profession to just step into," he says. In general, employers are looking for candidates who have experience, great problem solving and financial modeling ability, and strong written and verbal communication skills.