Asset Managers Regroup, Dig for Talent

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Last year was a tough one for asset managers. In a report from Heidrick & Struggles, asset management firms struggled with volatility, dropping returns, complicated products, growing regulation and investor uncertainty. According to the report titled “Global Talent and Hiring Patterns in the Asset Management Sector,” most firms are also finding it difficult to get experienced people. Turnover in leadership was, and continues to be, a big issue for many asset managers, especially those with locations in Asia. But asset managers are looking abroad to pump up their numbers.

Emphasis on International

Asset management firms are in hot pursuit of managers with experience abroad, especially in key markets in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. However, the report notes that “assembling management teams with experience and successful track records in those markets is proving challenging for many.”

According to the report, professionals with management experience in two or more key markets were ideal job prospects. The survey adds that “this is especially true at the vice president and director levels, where asset-gathering skills and a flair for managing long-term client relationships have become the criteria by which distribution specialists are measured.”

Sovereign wealth funds were some of the most active recruiters in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as in Canada, scouring for talent across the globe.

Candidates Get Selective

For the best and brightest, the report indicated that they had become “highly discerning about moving to a new company, carefully weighing a firm’s brand and reputation, ownership structure, product offerings and track record before signing on.” Not surprisingly, there was some title and compensation inflation noted, and this was especially true at some of the smaller firms.

One interesting finding in the survey—the top candidates weren’t restricting their searches to the leading firms. The report says that instead of seeking out name players, they’re looking “for stable firms with a strong asset base that offer opportunities to participate in growth and wealth creation.” Interestingly, leadership training appears to be on the rise even though other areas of the business are seeing cutbacks.

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