Market Recovery Leads to Shortage of Professional Candidates

In this article, we discuss the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Australian financial services and fintech industries, and its subsequent effect on recruitment. Discover why now is a great time to be considering a new role particularly due to an overall shortage of professional candidates in the market.

Australia’s quick recession and relatively successful result in suppressing Covid-19 has meant that confidence amongst my financial services and fintech clients has rebounded in recent months. This optimism is leading to a recruitment surge and professional candidates who are currently sitting tight in unsatisfying roles should take note!

Even in times of a global pandemic, there is still a need for financial reporting, securitisation, treasury and capital markets functions. Without the financial services sector operating at full strength, the lending market has the potential to slow down. The sector has a vital role to play in both market stability and economic growth as they continue to support their clients and invest and innovate for the future.

Unlike some industries during the most restrictive of the state health directives, on the most part staffing levels and salaries were maintained. Financial services tend to run on lean principles, so there was minimal culling of roles. Also, the regulatory environment means that staff will always be required for regulatory reporting to maintain business licenses, for business continuity, and to provide access to commercial and consumer funds.

How the Industry Responded to Covid-19

During the pandemic, some businesses put significant projects on hold. Other financial services companies took the opportunity to modify and transform their teams.

We have also seen some industry consolidation, as the digital banks found out just how hard it was to compete for deposit and lending customers in Australia. Low interest rates, high rates of government debt and ongoing challenges to the sustainability of some financial services clients such as those in the travel, leisure and entertainment sectors will continue to present challenges and opportunities to the industry.

At Oxygen Recruitment and HR we are now finding that the small handful of senior staff members that were laid off early on in the pandemic are now being hired back. Head hunting for talented senior financial services professionals is well and truly underway. It is a great time to update your LinkedIn profile with relevant key words and a professional photo.

What do Candidates Want?

Candidates are currently interested in permanent roles and less so in fixed term contracts. They are looking for job security after a period of uncertainty. Many want to keep some flexibility and work life balance after having successfully worked from home during the last year.

Is Working from Home Here to Stay?

We are finding that clients are being flexible and adapting to hybrid models where around 60% of time is in the office and 40% is from home. Hiring managers are listening to new starters and working with them to find a model that suits. Such policies have to go right up the food chain to senior management. If you offer it to someone new, you have to offer similar conditions to the rest of your team.

Productivity was maintained when the industry shifted to working-from-home. It can be challenging for a new starter to build relationships and manage stakeholders that you have never met. We have recruited many candidates over the last year who are very keen to get into the office and meet their colleagues. However, most clients have now developed high quality virtual onboarding procedures.

Some of our clients have returned up to 50% of their teams to the office already, with more to follow.

In terms of recruiting, video interviews are here to stay. Some hiring managers are then only doing a face-to-face interview with the last 2 or 3 candidates on a short list.

Is there a Specific Area of Candidate Shortage?

Our clients have an appetite for good strong treasury staff with debt capital markets backgrounds. Sales roles are also starting to come back, particularly in the areas of relationship and business development management.

There is good demand for financial controllers and financial reporting roles for strong Chartered Accountants.

We are seeing interest from our client base in expats looking to return to Australia. Having said that, with flights being difficult to get from some regions, it is best to wait until you are onshore in quarantine before you start your search and can tell a potential employer of your availability.

Clients are looking for candidates with good communication and stakeholder management skills. They want to see that a candidate can be accountable for more than their own job or department, they want to see initiative in relation to process improvements. If you can think outside the square you are likely to get hired more quickly. They really want staff that can hit the ground running.

What is Happening with Wages?

Wage growth including salaries, bonuses and STI’s is static. Some senior people changing roles of late have had to come down in salary expectations to meet the market. Now is not the time to demand a king’s ransom, even if you are a star performer.

Having sat tight in your current role during the pandemic and all its associated challenges, uncertainty and new ways of doing things, it is an excellent time to be considering the next step in your career. The market has well and truly rebounded, and a shortage of professional candidates may just play out in your favour.

To talk to us about career opportunities and to discover roles that are either exclusive to Oxygen Recruitment and HR or not yet on the market, then get in touch with our Sydney based team here. We can help you take the next step in your financial services career.