It has been more than six years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which brought the financial system to its knees and forced the big banks in the US and Europe to turn to their governments for help. Management has been focused on ‘fixing the bank’ and on meeting regulatory demands, such as rebuilding capital and ring-fencing corporate and retail banking activities. With these changes now coming to fruition, attention has turned to talent.

In the latter half of 2015 the financial services industry saw some large institutions make significant cuts and with the market volatility of last summer still fresh on everyone’s mind; employers were a little more cautious in the final quarter of last year. However, off the back of a strong 2014, the first half of 2015 saw a record 729,000 people employed in financial and professional services in London, a 2.2 percent increase on 2014. In this period 15,500 new jobs were created in the capital, representing a 14.7 percent increase on the lows seen in 2010 after employment plummeted by over 55,000 following the financial crisis. As we enter 2016, bluer skies can be seen on the horizon for talent acquisition professionals. Yet the biggest issue facing the industry is a war for talent, both against direct competitors, and other industries often seen as offering more attractive career prospects.

This is the defining question being asked among executive recruiters who service the global senior-level staffing needs of the financial services. In 2016 the goal is clear: to find the best and the brightest in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.  Executive recruiters remain in demand as never before but pressures have been mounting for them to adapt. Their clients are now looking at the hunt for talent as an on-going, never-ending corporate enterprise offensive. More than ever, clients expect head hunters to know their business inside and out, as it relates to market position, business goals, culture, and leadership expectations. If they cannot do this they lose their edge. Demand for great people is once again at a point where it is far outstripping supply and that has clearly caught many talent acquisition professionals off guard. So who will win the battle for business?

The recent industry realignments are likely to benefit smaller search firms and pose threats to larger search firms that have traditionally relied on their network and junior search consultant to execute assignments. While companies have increased their number of direct hires and begun to rely more heavily on in-house recruiters; banks, asset and investment managers continue to trust boutique search firms for their senior searches. In the case of Armstrong International this has been for three main reasons:

1.     Experience

Armstrong International has been the trusted advisor to financial services leaders since 1989. Shortly after it was founded, Goldman Sachs and SG Warburg engaged Armstrong to build their Japanese warrants business and Fixed Income business respectively. Armstrong has continued to cultivate a long-standing relationship with global leaders in financial services.

2.     Network

Armstrong International holds a global network of advisory & investor relationships. When conducting a senior-level search, Armstrong leverages its network of business professionals to conduct in-depth research and analytics of the track records, personalities, leadership qualities and potential risk factors related to individual candidates. Meaningful references rely on close contact with key decision makers in senior management across the financial services.

3.     Passion for Excellence

We are in the age of integrity, the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. At Armstrong International, we hire consultants whose thoughts, words and actions are in-line with our organizational aim: helping our clients builds their business teams to better serve their customers.


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