In a difficult job market, it’s something of a cliché to point to ‘pockets of recruitment’. However, while redundancies are still prevalent in the Irish financial services industry, there are certain jobs and sectors where employers are keen to hire or actively expanding.
1. Sector-specific M&A positions
As investment banking work has dried up in large financial centres like London, the international firms have started looking across the Irish Sea for more work. For the local corporate finance houses, this means more competition and teams of highly-polished sector specialists pitching against them for work. They’ve started to respond.
“Most people working in Irish corporate finance houses were generalists, but now local firms have been drafting in sector expertise,” says Eoin Blake, director at Dublin-based headhunters Lincoln Search.
“IT and telecoms, Food services, financial services and health & pharmaceutical are all active.”
2. Fund administration
Fund administration is a volume recruiter, but 2011 was still a good year for the sector. In terms of both direct and indirect employment, Ireland’s fund sector added 1,200 jobs last year.
Within the fund administration houses themselves, as the chart shows, a net 432 jobs were added – or a 5% year-on year increase, which isn’t bad considering the 7% decline in employment during 2010.
“There have been some large wins on the transfer agency side among the bigger players with a requirement for strong programme managers and client delivery managers,” says Paul McClatchie, manager at recruiters Careers Register.
“Dublin is starting to become more of a centre of excellence for some fund houses now positioning a lot of their key roles here across audit and operations and more middle to front office operations popping up.”
3. Loan workout and restructuring
The work around restructuring the vast amounts of property loans is creating ongoing recruitment within the large Irish banks, but it’s not limited to large corporate accounts.
“There are a lot of mortgage arrears and collections roles, moving up to business banking where people work with struggling SMEs right through to large corporate banking accounts,” says Ken Harbourne, director of recruiters Wallace Myers International. “There’s a huge amount of work for around the €40-80k salary range.”
4. SME lending positions to the ‘knowledge economy’
While a large number of SMEs are still struggling to acquire credit, Irish banks have been quietly recruiting for their SME lending teams targeting ‘knowledge economy’ sectors – namely, clean tech, renewable energy and life sciences.
“For these roles, banks are looking for the relevant industry experience, be it life sciences or renewable energy, or people from a venture capital background with a deep understanding of the financing needs for these particular sectors,” says Blake.
5. Commercial/decision support accountants
There’s a renewed appetite to recruit accountants in Ireland currently anyway, but the banks are bringing on decision support professionals as they grapple with new business models and capital adequacy requirements.
“Banks need accountants to assess liquidity requirements, advise on the commercial viability of entering (or exiting) a particular product space and pursue opportunities to cut costs. It’s one of the main areas of recruitment currently,” says Paul Smyth, senior consultant at headhunters FK International.
6. Compliance and risk management
Regulators are clamping down on banks, insurance and the funds sectors alike, and the result is an ongoing demand for compliance and risk professionals. A talent shortage is starting to emerge.
“There’s a big shortage of people at the mid-to-senior levels across risk and compliance,” says Harbourne. “Currently firms are tackling this by recruiting in foreign markets, or looking to retrain existing employees.”