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Six skills that will help you secure a job in sunny Australia

Hiring activity in Australia gathering momentum

Australia doesn’t just provide warm weather and beachside lifestyles; its financial sector is slowly starting to crank out jobs again after a long southern summer slumber. Many jobs are driven by regulatory change and not growth, but a domestic talent shortage means employers are still hiring globally. Here are six sought-after skills that could land you a role Down Under.

1) IT architecture and project management

Competition among the Big Four Australian banks – Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac – in mobile banking is generating jobs for user-experience and user-interface IT professionals, particularly senior architects and project managers. “What is unique about this recent demand is that unlike in the past, when these functions were often outsourced to advertising and digital agencies, many banks are now looking to have them sit in-house,” says Jennifer Combe, IT manager, Morgan McKinley, the recruitment consultancy.

2) Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)

FATCA, an American law passed in 2010 which requires banks to disclose US assets in foreign accounts beginning this year, is helping drive an increased need for compliance professionals in Australia, says Andrew Hanson, director, financial services, Robert Walters in Sydney. Heads of compliance and project teams need to be in place this year to evaluate the potential impact of FATCA and develop plans to manage the risk of non-compliance, he adds. “Given that FATCA is largely unprecedented, firms are looking for candidates with prior regulatory-reform project experience and transferable change-management skills.”

3) Data analytics

Banks, consulting firms, insurance companies, and financial-planning firms are growing their internal data-analytics teams in a bid to sell statistical analysis to clients. “They need people who can be highly commercial both in how they analyse the data and how they communicate their findings,” says David Holden, associate director of search firm Emerald Group.

4) Compliance (on a contract)

Australia has always been a good destination for IT contractors, but recent months have witnessed the rise of a new breed: the compliance contractor. Wealth management firms are in particular need of them. They have smaller permanent compliance teams than banks, but are facing new regulatory standards, such as Strong Super, a series of government reforms to Australia’s superannuation (retirement savings) regime.

“These demands have created unprecedented change in the compliance employment market,” says Adam Forster, enterprise accounts director, Ethos Corporation, a recruitment firm based in Sydney and Melbourne. “We are seeing compliance professionals being engaged on short-term contracts as subject-matter experts. For example, those with substantial superannuation experience. They build specific compliance frameworks before moving to a new employer to repeat the exercise.”

5) Credit analysts and risk

Asian banks, including Sumitomo Mitsui, Nomura and Singapore's DBS, are attempting to get a foothold in Australian banking. “Such banks need to ensure a thorough oversight of Australian investments, in terms of asset-quality and robustness around compliance with required credit processes and policies,” says Jacob Smith, director of Sydney recruiters JS Careers. Demand for both credit-analysis and credit-risk professionals is growing in many Asian banks in Australia, he says.

6) Future of Financial Advice (FoFA)

FoFA, a major shake-up of retail financial advice in Australia, is increasing demand for experienced financial planners who can cut the mustard under the tough new laws which emphasise consumer rights. Jobs are also opening up as weaker performers quit the sector ahead of the regulations coming into force in July. FoFA moves the industry from commission-style remuneration to a fee-for-service model. “While some advisers have operated on this basis for a number of years, for many this is a change that will challenge them to be able to demonstrate the value they provide to clients,” says Sarah Wapling, principal, SFG Recruitment, Melbourne.

AUTHORSimon Mortlock Content Manager
  • tr
    7 February 2013

    Actually, nearly all Australian companies (including other industries) require working rights before they even talk to you. Sharing from personal experience (and I shall state clearly which are the facts):

    Fact 1. I recently finished a post-graduate level qualification in Australia, from one of the top 2 institutions in Australia offering this degree (depending on which ranking you refer to).

    Fact 2. Applicants are screened rigorously, before gaining entry to this course. The requirements include X years of working experience, reference checks, an English proficiency test, and a standardised test. The average test score of my intake placed us in the top ~20% of the takers of this standardised test, and we had on average of ~3 to 4 years work experience.
    Opinion: Just saying this to show that there is some form of quality check in place.

    Fact 3. About 70% of us were international students, with no working rights then.

    Fact 4a. "Do you have working rights?" is a question you will see on most, if not all, job applications.

    Opinion which remains an opinion because I lack statistics: Once you answer "no", you get a rejection pretty much immediately.

    Fact 4b. This compares to applications in Hong Kong, Singapore, and other countries I worked in before. Working rights is not even asked about in the initital application. Although to be fair, I heard this may have changed recently. And many other places probably ask this as well.

    Fact 5. Only about 10% of the international students could find a company to sponsor a working visa after graduation. This excludes those who managed to get permanent residencies.

    Opinion: It seems the class after mine had / is having the same problem.

    To be fair, I was one of the lucky few to have done an internship in Australia a while back, and it had been really enjoyable and professional.

    I accept that these are the unofficial (?) employment practices. Just want to let other readers know that these are the "facts", and encourage you to do further research before making any decisions. If you are looking for a job, having working rights already makes it easier. And if you are planning studies , ask your University about employment chances post-graduation if you have no working rights.

    Happy to hear from those who have other experiences. In fact I would really appreciate tips.


  • Ch
    7 February 2013

    I agree with PominOZ. to my surprise and shock, even if you have local experience, you will not be given chance if you are not born here and does not look and speak like locals do.

    If u are not Australian look alike, your chances are always third.

  • Mo
    4 February 2013

    Yes, come to Sydney. Great and stable weather, low living costs and the best transport system in the whole wide world....seriously, this place has lost a lot of its shine in the past 5 or so years. The city has become a victim to extreme weather patterns and suffers from mass immigration without the adequate infrastructure investment by federal and state governments.

    @ Dummie - GS JBWere has ceased to exist. JB Were has been sold and it's only GS these days.

  • Mi
    4 February 2013

    Completely agree with PominOz, to get a job in Australia you need following
    1. Valid Visa - mostly PR
    2. Local Experience (wonder how can one get without a job)
    3. Know someone within Organization.
    4. The funniest thing one recruitment agent said is that you don't have Australian accent. Why would I need it as long as I can converse in English.
    5. Your resume should have all of the skills that are mentioned on job description.
    6. Recruitment agencies ask, when are you planing to come to Australia to get face to face interviews. I agree that makes difference but there are people who want to start working without having to wait in foreign land without a job, probably family, kids etc

  • du
    4 February 2013

    Goldman Sachs JBwere takes Europeans with no Aussie relationship nor experiences whatsoever in their front office positions.

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