Charlotte Financial Job Market Resilient

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Charlotte, N.C., corporate home town of both Bank of America and Wachovia, has come through the banking crisis quite well on the jobs front.

The city didn't lose nearly as many jobs as predicted, while gaining several thousand new finance-related jobs in the last 18 months. New companies moving in to tap the area's financial expertise include U.S. Bank with a new fixed-income trading floor, GMAC, and Morgan Stanley.

"We had a lot of negative publicity saying that we were going to lose tens of thousands of jobs because of the shakeup in the banking industry. That never happened," says Tony Crumbley, vice president of research at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Wachovia, taken over by Wells Fargo, lost its headquarters staff, which was about 200 jobs. More recently the bank disclosed 565 job cuts in Charlotte but also said it's hiring 100 people for its mortgage group.

Local Labor Shortage Looming?

Tim Wood, managing director at the national recruiting firm Stephen James, says layoffs at Wachovia, Bank of America and TIAA-CREF created a pool of available financial services professionals that helped attract other institutions from around the U.S. to set up operations in Charlotte. Now those more-recent employers may face a shortage because banks are calling back some of the people they'd let go - especially business and financial analysts and project managers experienced with merging operations.

"It's not just IT but a lot of strategy and a lot of reporting work," Wood remarks. For instance, he cites Wells Fargo's need for financial analysts to compile data and reports.

With business conditions still unsettled, many openings are for contractors rather than full-time staff positions. Both agencies and job seekers used to divide along full-time and temporary jobs, but the distinction is blurring. Stephen James has stepped up its contract placements because that's where growth opportunities lie. It's finding 40 - 50 percent of applicants now open to contracting positions - far above what that recruiter used to see. Wood predicts many current temp will lead to permanent positions down the road.

From Call Center Staff to Corporate Bond Traders

At the same time, some call center work is returning from the Philippines and India, according to Crumbley. Zenta, a knowledge and business outsourcing firm, plans to add 500 people by year-end in roles supporting consumer lending servicing, accounts receivable, mortgage servicing and real estate market analytics. A non-profit employer, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), will create more than 1,000 Charlotte jobs in counseling and loan modification programs for homeowners and buyers.

Among nationwide financial employers, GMAC said last March it would add 200 jobs paying an average of $96,124 in its Charlotte corporate center. U.S. Bancorp has leased an additional 10,000 square feet to build a bond trading floor for its high-grade fixed income business. It has already hired 30 people and expects to add another 50 or 60 by the end of 2010.

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