As the year draws to a close – with most banks sewing up the loose ends of deals, and budget and headcount numbers getting confirmed – the weeks until mid-December are an opportune “down time” to plan your career.
If you are thinking about moving after bonus payouts in Q1, it is wise to position yourself now and to be in touch with the right people (the overall mood is more relaxed and festive). Here are the main groups you should network with:
This is an easy and relevant group to tap into: bosses or colleagues who have moved to other institutions. Easy because it’s a warm network; relevant because it’s a direct fit to your role and expertise. An informal lunch or drinks session can throw light on basic hiring plans for next year – which teams are expanding and which related areas are growing.
For example, a team with growth plans in its sales force (relationship managers) may soon need middle- and back-office hires in, for example, credit, client services and operations. If your contact is friendly enough, you can articulate your interest with them, maintain contact, and when the hires are formalized, be referred by them. Most institutions have staff referral schemes that are win-win-win – for the bank, your friend and you.
Client and deal teams
This especially pertains to front-office bankers who have external interfaces with clients and other professional-services executives (lawyers, auditors, corporate advisory personnel and management consultants). Think about the deals you have worked on or concluded in the last 18 months. A friendly catch-up with the right folks can reveal opportunities and roles with the competition, or even with the clients themselves.
Industry groups and associations
End-of-year events organized by industry and trade associations can be a useful place to obtain new contacts and generate leads in a social setting. There is a high chance you will bump into ex-workmates or bosses, or be introduced to colleagues of ex-colleagues. Pick an event that is relatively interesting to you and go with a friend. Have some name cards ready and give them to people you want to stay in touch with.
I use the word “specialist” because it is crucial to speak with a recruiter who can add value to your job search. Roles in financial services are getting increasingly complex and no recruiter can be all things to all people. It is important that the search consultant has deep expertise in your area of experience, say, private banking, risk or the buy side. They can then advise you on hiring trends, people moves and happenings that are applicable to you. If you already have a trusted career consultant, they will be happy to have a catch-up coffee with you at this time of the year. If you do not know any, you can ask friends or colleagues for referrals.
Angela Kuek, director, The Meyer Consulting Group