To borrow my auto mechanic's favorite prognosis, "there's a bit of sludge in the engine" of job creation in the financial markets, and in this case, that sludge has a name: uncertainty. Wall Street hiring plans for 2012 are stuck in uncertainty over the difficult economic and capital markets environment, as well as the upcoming presidential election that could impact whether certain Dodd Frank or other regulations are repealed or go forward.
Despite the lack of a clear view of what's ahead, business in the financial markets must go on, and that trumps stagnation over uncertainty. "Every year, firms push to improve their position, creating hiring priorities and talent that needs to be found and recruited," says Constance Melrose, Managing Director of eFinancialCareers Americas.
Where We See the Top Five Job Opportunities
- Number one is financial technology. According to the latest study by eFinancialCareers with more than 200 outside recruiters and hiring managers from Wall Street firms including asset managers, investment banks, broker-dealers and hedge funds responding, technology talent remains the top hiring priority for 2012. IT, combined with financial markets experience, continues to be a persistent challenge as employers struggle to find the skills required to keep up with changes in competitive pressures, market circumstances, profitability and regulation.
- The second top area for job opportunities is sales. Wall Street is always on the lookout for talent who could move their revenue-generating skills from one company to another. Sales opportunities are available in equities, foreign exchange and derivatives – with total job postings in the category up 54 percent year over year.
- Risk management comes in at number three on the 2012 hiring priority list. Firms have extended risk principles to every aspect of their business – including compensation. With two years of uninterrupted monthly year over year growth, the demand for risk talent continues.
- Fourth is compliance. Legal and compliance professionals help ensure their firms’ practices are aligned with current laws and regulations. The evolving regulatory scene is keeping hiring managers on their toes, as they strive to be prepared. They look for compliance team members who are analytical, detail-oriented and possess sound judgment.
- And fifth, accounting. Accountants and auditors with skills highly specific to Wall Street are important to hiring managers this year as issues around regulation, financial risk and capital adequacy remain on the forefront. If you have accounting skills and your primary sector is cutting back or not hiring, you may want to consider this area, at least until opportunities in your preferred sector open up.
Another thing to consider is that the constant state of Wall Street is change. And each year opportunities seem to appear in greater numbers in different sectors of the financial markets. For example, the top sectors year over year for advancers were commodities which were up 105 percent over the previous year. Trading was up 65 percent, and quantitative analysis was up 56 percent. As for the sectors that declined, compliance and legal were down 44 percent, capital markets were down 17 percent and investment banking/M&A was down 13 percent.