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Six jobs Middle Eastern banks are still desperate to fill in 2014

The end of the year is fast-approaching; a time when finance recruiters sit back and start planning for the coming 12 months. However, there are still roles on the market that recruiters would dearly love to fill before 2015 comes to pass. Here’s our pick of the hot profiles for what little is left of 2014 within the Middle East financial sector.

1. Analysts in direct investment firms

Sovereign wealth funds and regional private equity firms are competing against one another for junior talent. Analysts, those with just a couple of years’ industry experience, are in demand as deal volume has picked up in the MENA region over the past 12 months. Coming into December, there are still seats to fill.

“Everyone needs analysts, because they didn’t hire enough of them in the past there’s a desperate scramble currently to bring them on board and salaries have been escalating,” says James Wakefield, managing director of Cobalt Abu Dhabi. “It’s now possible for an analyst to be hired on the salaries usually offered to associates.”

Average pay for analysts in private equity is AED20k per month ($64.8k annually), according to a salary survey by regional recruiters Charterhouse Partnership, whereas associates bring in AED35k a month ($114k a year).

2. Equity capital market bankers – associate to VP level

If private equity firms are looking for fresh faces, investment banks in the region – both local and international – are trying to bolster their ranks to capitalise on the growing equity capital activity in MENA.

“Investment banks are optimistic that the improved market conditions will continue and are adding associates and VPs to their team in anticipation of a good 2015,” says Peter Greaves, managing director of IES HR Consultants.

3. Senior wealth management professionals

Are you a wealth manager with close connections to clients who will really move their money across with you? Banks in the region still want to hear from you. Magdy El Zein, managing director of Boydon Middle East, says that private banks are getting the ball rolling now for hires that can be unveiled early next year. Barclays, for example, is increasing headcount by 20% in its MENA wealth management operation – primarily at director and managing director level.

4. Senior originators, investment banking

Investment banks are keen to hire senior coverage bankers who can bring in the deals and recruiters point to something of a battle for talent at the top. The investment banking league tables in the region change so often – largely because of fluctuating, relatively small revenues – that the right person originating deals can make a huge difference. One recent recruit is at Deutsche Bank, which brought in Hussain Qaragholi as a senior originator for the MENA region. Investment banks are keen to bring in talent at the top, suggest recruiters.

5. Investment bankers for strategy roles

Whether it’s a head of strategy within a regional bank, or a chief financial officer with the expertise to advise Middle Eastern corporates on potential acquisitions or divestments, strategy roles are all the rage currently in the Gulf, suggests Greaves. “A lot of investment bankers have been moving across from finance into strategy roles in industry or retail banking – it’s an expansionary area,” he says.

6. Risk and compliance roles

Yes, risk management and compliance remains both hot and incredibly tight in the Middle East. The global skills shortages in this area is exacerbated by the fact that regional banks are reliant on a supply of largely expat talent that is reticent to move to the Gulf. "Candidates with a strong track record are still very much needed in risk and compliance," says Omar Taha, managing director of executive search firm The S&T Group.

AUTHORPaul Clarke

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