Charlotte, North Carolina, which boasts of having the most banking assets of any U.S. city besides New York, appears to be weathering the economic uncertainty that has caused Wall Street to hemorrhage jobs fairly well. While jobs are hardly abundant, people connected in the region say that hiring activity is picking up.
The region’s financial services employers include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, TIAA-CREF, FMC Corp, BB&T, Fifth Third, SunTrust and Vanguard, many of which have job postings for the area on their Web sites.
Hedge funds are also finding Charlotte an attractive market because of its educated workforce and low costs, as well as payment services providers.
“When Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia in 2008, there were some folks let go from Wachovia,” said Jeff Edge, who oversees the economic development team at the Greater Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, in an interview. “Today, Wells Fargo employs more people in Charlotte when Wachovia did when they took them over.”
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited by the Charlotte Observer shows that the number of financial services jobs hit 74,300 in June, its highest level since April 2008. It’s hardly a shock. For one thing, PNC Bank acquired RBC Bank of Charlotte for about $3.7 billion earlier this year and has said it plans on expanding its footprint in the region. Firms that provide services to the financial services sector are also expanding.
Kyle Cerminara is one of the many financial services executives who have taken a shine to the region. The Pennsylvania native, whose family relocated to the area, and his partners are planning to open the hedge fund Fundamental Global Investors LLC in September. They are currently raising capital for their Charlotte-based operation.
“We are starting our business in Charlotte for many of the same reasons why Warren Buffett opened his business in Omaha,” he said in an interview, adding that Fundamental Global has had no difficulty finding qualified candidates thanks in part to North Carolina’s well-regarded universities. “Charlotte has a fantastic financial community.”
Employers also appear willing to relocate candidates from other markets to the region because costs are certainly lower in Charlotte than New York City and other financial service hubs. North Carolina often fares well on national rankings of business friendliness. Electrolux and Chiquita have recently set up shop in the state as well.
However, jobs may not be easy to find, particularly for investment managers. Many in the field are already employed.
A non-scientific survey of members of the CFA North Carolina Society conducted last September found that 2.8 percent of respondents reported that they were unemployed, down from 4.2 percent in 2009, according to Chris Aprill, the society’s president.
“There aren’t a ton of jobs out there,” said Aprill, who recently switched jobs, in an interview. “Things do pop up from time to time.”
The rebound in the housing market is helping bolster the demand for banking jobs in the area, according to Michael Fletcher of Robert Half International’s Charlotte office.
“Certainly, the mortgage business is picking up,” he said in an interview. “Banks are expanding their credit risk teams. We have a lot of opportunities for project managers, business analysts and financial analysts.”