If You're in California Dreaming about Financial Jobs Think Small

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The financial jobs market in California is a mixed bag.

As the real estate market rebounds thanks to low interest rates, banks are adding more mortgage underwriting and processing professionals and the state’s hedge funds are hiring as well. Overall, though, opportunities are expected to dwindle as the year draws to a close.

“Up until about three weeks ago we were very busy, said Jane Groner, founder of San Francisco-based Pacific Placement Group, who focuses on administrative staffing. She added that the quality of applicants also has slipped. “Everyone seems to be attributing it (the slowdown) to the election. Normally at this time of year, we're busy.  Talking to my colleagues, we have all slowed down.”

Smaller shops are hiring

A San Francisco-based financial executive who asked to remain anonymous because he isn’t authorized by his employer to speak to the media backed Groner’s view. He said that while the numbers of job listings remains high, “The market is pretty tough here … the larger firms are not hiring aggressively but many smaller shops are.”

Executives and hiring managers in other regions have also reported that smaller firms are more eager to hire than larger ones. Chris Ainsworth, president of the California Hedge Fund Association, said his industry, whose members are not big employers, is optimistic about the future given the growth in credit funds and peer-to-peer lending shops among other reasons.  Demand is strong for a variety of jobs ranging from analysts to sales and marketing to compliance.  An improved regulatory environment is helping as well.

“There seems to be quite a few launches going on,” Ainsworth said in an interview with eFinancialCareers.  “It seems to be a growing industry on the West Coast. The bulk of what we are seeing (in terms of hiring) are the independent managers as well as the uber family wealth organizations (tied to the big banks).”

A challenge to relocate

The talent pool on the West Coast is strong enough that firms try to avoid relocating people there from other regions though transfers from area of California to another are more common, he said.

“It’s a challenge to get an East Coast person to relocate to the West Coast, “ Ainsworth said.

The job market in Southern California may be a bit stronger for some job-seekers, particularly as the real estate market improves  Demand also continues to be strong in areas such as compliance, systems integration and trade support, according to Brett Good,  a senior district president for Robert Half International based in Orange County.

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