The research role where, on average, it's possible to earn 25% more than your peers
There's still a job role where demand is high within investment banks, hedge funds and asset managers, poaching is rife and pay is on the increase...but firms are looking to recruit ex-geologists or engineers.
Mining analysts, quite simply, are currently hot property. However, in order to be considered for a role, a deep understanding of both the products - whether that's metals or bulk commodities - and the industries behind them is key.
As Bloomberg pointed out recently, the likes of BlackRock, Paulson & Co, Macquarie, and Barclays Capital have all been hiring mining analysts recently. We also understand that Morgan Stanley, UBS, ING and Standard Chartered are all currently recruiting.
Within the larger firms, it's not simply a case of trying to convince geologists or mining engineers to swap their hard-hats for a business suit. Their experience needs to be combined with commercial exposure to the financing and development of mining assets in a banking context in order to be considered.
Often, therefore, people make an industry switch into a smaller broker, before graduating on to a large investment bank or hedge fund. It's at this level where demand has really taken off.
"After around three years of experience, having been trained and started to develop a name for themselves, mining analysts move often across to the bigger banks," says Philip Charsley, business director at Hays Financial Markets. "Demand for both lead analysts and associate analysts has really taken off, but there's a real shortage of talent at this level. There's a lot of movement between the top banks as a result."
The likes of Australia, South Africa and Canada produce a lot of geologists, who often switch into a mining analyst role in their home countries. More onerous immigration laws in the UK are making it tougher for firms in the City to recruit this talent, which is exacerbating the shortage, suggests Charsley.
Therefore, salaries are starting to head north. Generally, it's possible to earn 25% more as a mining analyst than other research roles, says Charsley.
MDs, or heads of mining research, can expect around 300k as a base salary, plus bonus, says Hays' research. A mining analyst should earn 150k at a large investment bank, or around 100-120k at a smaller firm. Director level hires can earn anywhere between 175-300k, depending on the size of the employer.
"If a really strong analyst comes on to our books, in the current climate we could easily get them offers at six large investment banks," says Charsley.