There are glimmers of hope in the investment management hiring outlook for 2010, especially for job applicants who help to generate revenues or who are in an area where cuts have been too deep.
That's what I gather from exchanges with three observers: Michael Kulesza, managing director of Horton International's Boston office; Bob Gorog, partner in CT Partners' Boston office; and Michael Evans, president, FUSE Research Network in Boston.
"I do sense an uptick in hiring for 2010," says Kulesza. "Many companies scaled back heavily, so now they and are planning to add people to their organizations." That's particularly true in the areas of sales, new business development, mutual fund wholesalers, and advanced sales support, he says.
Smaller Firms Hiring to Grow Market Share
Small- to medium-sized firms are hiring more aggressively than bigger firms, adds Kulesza. They're taking advantage of large-company layoffs to upgrade their staff and to increase market share.
Given the big banks' involvement with mergers and TARP funds, some smaller banks see an opportunity to expand their high-net-worth businesses. "Customers are gravitating toward more local or regionalized high-net-worth services," he says.
Aside from these sales and marketing opportunities, Kulesza believes there may be additions to investment research and analysis. "Back office operations will stay lean," he says.
Privately held and mutual companies are freer to take advantage of hiring and market share expansion opportunities, says Kulesza, because they aren't answerable to the stock market. Meanwhile, it will take four to five years before investment management hiring returns to its previously high levels, he predicts.
Some Niches Offer More Opportunities
"The better firms are coming back into the market," says CT Partners' Gorog. On the investment side, he sees more searches for international equities than for domestic equities. Opportunistic hiring is also happening in fixed income areas such as credit and distressed debt.
Some hedge funds are beefing up their distribution. They're trying to upgrade their clients to include institutions as well as the high-net-worth, fund-of-fund, and family office clients with whom hedge funds typically launch. Funds that have survived three years and delivered decent relative performance over that period figure they have a good shot at expanding their client base.
Hiring in Product Management
Fuse's Evans shared the hiring outlook uncovered by the firm's recent research report on product management at asset management firms. Among his conclusions:
- Product leaders anticipate increased activity in improving Web content and capabilities, and hiring additional staff.
- Much research and marketing content on firms' Web sites is outdated. Improving Web content and capabilities is a low-cost but potentially effective way of signaling to advisors and investors that a firm is moving forward.
- Firms indicated a strong desire to add back staff. Fully 50 percent of respondents indicated they plan to hire in 2010 - especially product managers, marketing managers, associates/analysts, junior product managers, and manager research/due diligence.
- Recent analysis by Russell Reynolds Associates concurs that hiring should resume in 2010, particularly on the sales and marketing sides of organizations, as these were among the hardest hit in terms of headcount reduction.
For Wealth Managers and Financial Planners
For wealth management professionals and employers, a post by Bill Winterberg on the FP Pad blog points to some further articles that suggest hiring in this arena will pick up in 2010. He also lists some resources that may help both job hunters and employers looking to hire.
Winterberg, a financial planning technology manager based in Dallas, hopes operations hiring is more robust than Horton International's Kulesza suggests. "If anything, firms need to support additional capacity ahead of growth, rather than hire after growth exposes bottlenecks in operations," he says.
Susan Weiner of InvestmentWriting.com is a Boston-based writer and editor for investment and wealth management firms.