How Hurricane Sandy Is Expected to Impact Wall Street Hiring

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“Frankenstorm” Sandy lived up to expectations last week leaving death and devastation in its wake. A combination of flooding and power-outages darkened the halls of Wall Street banks and is promising to seriously dent fourth-quarter earnings for global property insurers. A question facing financial job seekers is how will this mess impact hiring trends?

The answer is ... well it all depends on who you ask.

One financial services recruiter in New York doesn't think the hurricane will have any impact on Wall Street hiring.

“This really shouldn’t effect anyone one planning on doing strategic hiring for 2013,” Jeanne E. Branthover, head of the global financial services practice at Boyden Global Executive Search, told eFinancialCareers.

In the banking sector, “We’re seeing aggressive hiring,” particularly in FinTech, she says, adding that financial services companies will have to continue to invest in technology in order to remain competitive. A few days of business losses won’t make a dent in that, says the recruiter, who notes that today, 90 percent of her searches are in this area, compared to less than 25 percent only two years ago.

Less optimistic is John Challenger, chief executive officer of outplacement services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, who says that the many banks with operations in lower Manhattan cannot help but be distracted by what has occurred.

“I think the storm will have a real effect on hiring activity on the East Coast,” Challenger told eFinancialCareers, particularly since the entire Southern tip of Manhattan was dark for several days last week.

Bank execs will have to turn their attention to repairing the damages they’ve incurred he says, and as financial institutions manage Sandy’s impact on their impact on customers and operations, things like “hiring and growth” won’t be priorities, Challenger says.

Disaster modeling company Eqecat has estimated that the monster storm which devastated parts of New York and New Jersey over the last several days caused up to $20 billion in insured losses and $50 billion in economic losses in the United States, and experts say that from an economic-damage standpoint, Sandy may end up ranking second only to Hurricane Katrina.

Property/casualty insurers will also be able to take the hit, experts believe.  Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said it expects Hurricane Sandy to have only limited impact on the ratings on U.S. property/casualty insurers and global reinsurers. And, though losses from Sandy will certainly impact insurers’ and reinsurers’ affect fourth-quarter earnings this year, S&P said, for most, the hit will be offset by these companies’ strong capital bases and strong earnings through the first three quarters of the year.

“We at Boyden see many insurance companies actively restructuring” for growth, says Branthover, adding this is unlikely to change, especially since claims and paperwork resulting from the storm could actually create the need for still more insurance company personnel.

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