Our predictions for Nordic region financial services hiring in 2011

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Want to know where the jobs will and won't be in the Nordics next year? Here's our considered opinion...

2011 could be a good year for

Capital markets

"I think IPOs are going to be a hot area in 2011," forecasts David Ramm, partner and Nordic PE leader at Ernst & Young.

"There is going to be a lot of activity because there is still a backlog, particularly of PE exits, most of which will probably exit through IPOs. This will inevitably feed demand for M&A specialists and create a lot of work for banks and their advisers," he adds.

Borrowing from banks, either directly or through syndicated loans, is likely to become more and more limited as banks become less willing to use their balance sheets over the next few years, agrees Erkki Tuominen, managing partner at CV Group in Helsinki.

"This is something that could benefit fixed income origination, all of which could lead to a requirement for more fixed income expertise," he adds.

During the third quarter of last year, Swedbank, for one, launched new fixed income and currency operations in Finland and it is possible it could become a more important destination for such operations during 2011.

"This is something I think will be particularly pronounced in Finland but, albeit to a lesser extent, could become significant in Sweden and others parts of the Nordics," Tuominen adds.

Corporate banking

Running alongside increased activity around M&As and IPOs, corporate banking - an area that has been somewhat neglected in the region up to now - could "take off" next year, predicts Anders Borg, president of Hansar International.

"It will be the 'real' economy that will be driving it. There are a lot of Nordic companies that want capital to move ahead and expand, and there are many companies that are becoming more acquisitive and are looking for targets to buy.

"Big corporations are going to need a lot of good advice, so there could well be demand for more corporate bankers," he adds.

Risk management

Demand for risk professionals may have tailed off this year, but it seems likely that this could rebound again in the coming 12 months, suggest recruiters.

"Talking to senior risk professionals, many of them are still concerned about the risk of a double dip and the possible effect this might have on the sector; there is a sense that we are still living in the eye of the storm and, in that context, risk will continue to be an important priority," says Wictor Bonde, consultant at Michael Page in Stockholm.

And 2011 could be a bad year for...

Pay prospects

Whether we're right and bonuses end the year as a "bad" category or actually should have been in "good" will largely depend on which competing pressure wins.

On the one hand, if the Nordic market continues its steady upward track, then pressure will build for banks to become more generous. On the other, there will still be the question of whether politicians and public will stomach such largesse.

"I predict the spring round of bonuses will be fairly weak still but, as long as we don't have any more economic or financial crises, by the end of the year they could be back up," says Borg.

"It's got to the stage where some bankers are beginning to complain they are finding it difficult to motivate their junior staff because bonus pools have become so limited," agrees CV Group's Tuominen.

"But at the same time there will still be substantial political pressure for banks to be going easy on them. If you are right at the top you will probably be all right but it is possible those in the middle might get squeezed again," adds Borg.

Keeping hold of local talent

The combination of up-and-coming workers being lured to international players elsewhere in Europe, returning expatriates more likely to be older in the tooth and the longer term hangover of the recruitment freezes imposed within many Nordic banks in the late 1980s, means the sector will continue to be challenged by an ageing demographic and shortages of younger talent.

"Many Nordic bankers downshift and leave the sector once they have made enough to 'retire' comfortably, so one of the growing challenges for the sector is a lack of experienced talent beyond the age of 40," predicts Tuominen.

"Already we are seeing significant knowledge and age gaps, with not many over-45s around and a definite lack to up-and-coming talent in the 40-50 year-old age bracket. This means Nordic banks, both in Finland and elsewhere, might have to start looking more overseas and across borders for their talent or work harder to attract expatriates based in London or other European financial centres back to the region," he adds.

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