If You've Ever Thought About Working in Boston, Here's What You Need to Know

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For financial services job seekers, the Boston market is a mixed scenario of good news and bad news.

Small- to mid-sized boutique financial services firms are hiring at a much more rapid rate than their larger counterparts. Large banks and money management companies are adding workers too but are proceeding cautiously as the economic recovery continues to take shape. Many have cut jobs in the last year.

Fidelity Investments plans to shut its office in Marlborough and will relocate most of the 1,000 jobs there out of state, according to the Boston Globe. The Boston-based mutual fund giant employs about 8,400 workers in Massachusetts down from 13,000 in 2006. Last year, State Street Corp. slashed more than 800 technology jobs, most of which were in Massachusetts.  Bank of New York Mellon, which has about 4,000 Massachusetts workers, announced last year that it would cut 1,500 jobs. As the Boston Globe noted, BNY plants “to minimize layoffs through attrition and a hiring freeze, and by using fewer temporary workers.” Given these circumstances, a cautious approach to hiring seems appropriate.

Ahead of the market

“They were trying to get ahead of the market and they realized that they got too far ahead,” said John O’Reilly, executive recruiter at Fanning Personnel, a Boston-based staffing agency that works with the city’s financial companies. “Larger firms are still trying to be conservative” when it comes to hiring, he told eFinancialCareers.

Recruiters in the Boston market say they see better times ahead, a view backed up by economists. A forecast released last year by the New England Economic Partnership called for a “modest pickup in growth over the next several years.” Employment growth in the region will continue to lag the U.S. as a whole, a trend that has continued for years. Housing prices are expected to continue to see lackluster growth through the end of the year.

The region’s high-tech, defense and retail companies should benefit from the economic recovery and are all looking for financial talent. Many companies are willing to gamble on clients living outside the area if they have ties to Boston such as family or graduated from one of the region’s many colleges. Expectations, however, need to be kept in check.

Hiring is good but not great

“Hiring has been good but not great,” said Jim Langan, Partner and General Manager of the Investment and Financial Services division at Winter Wyman, in an interview with eFinancialCareers. “April, May and June are typically our busiest months for hiring. There will be selective hiring with the larger companies. I don’t think the floodgates will open.”

Like in other regions, there are plenty of opportunities in risk management, SEC reporting, tax, compliance and quantitative jobs in the Boston area. There are also jobs available in the IT department of financial services firms along with investor relations and sales positions.

“The operations jobs that were once plentiful have curtailed quite a bit,” said Michael Daley, president of Daley and Associates. “Tax professionals are always in vogue. The private equity firms are very active … The New England market has grown immensely over the past year but it still is not where it was back in 2006.”

Flexibility pays off

Many people who are working at the larger firms are eager to jump ship to smaller shops because the organizations tend to be nimbler which enables their employees to do more than they could otherwise, according to O’Reilly.

“There is a lot of opportunity in the fixed income area,” he said. “That’s where a lot of people are putting their money, so there are a lot of opportunities in that area.”

Though people with equity backgrounds might be able to do these jobs, employers are keen on having candidates with fixed income backgrounds. Anyone lacking fixed income experience seeking a job in the field is advised to be flexible in terms of salary.

Wall Street refugees should note that the salaries are lower in Boston and the chances for bonuses are not as great as New York. The region, however, offers a quality of life that may be hard for the Big Apple to beat.

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