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"Candidates are desperate for jobs; banks are taking their time"

If you're looking for a new banking job now, you may have already noticed the new dynamic. As we noted a few weeks ago, banks are increasingly looking to string out hiring with relentless interviews. Candidates, however, have a new sting of desperation.

"There are a lot more distressed candidates on the market who are looking for jobs as soon as possible," says Anthony Keizner at New York-based Odyssey Search Partners. "But the pace of hiring is slowing. Firms want to scour the market for longer, and they don't feel the need to make instant hiring decisions in the way that they did in the past few years."

Many of the new and desperate candidates are coming from Credit Suisse, where insiders say 90% of people in some teams in the investment bank are facing unemployment unless they can find alternatives. While bonus clawbacks are a disincentive to leave, many at CS are still keen to move wherever they can. "There’s a flood of Credit Suisse candidates on the market – they can’t just sit back and wait," says one equities headhunter in London. "- Anyone who’s at CS should be having conversations with other banks, as they can't rely on UBS."

In investment banking, Citi has been poaching from Credit Suisse. Jens Welter, Citi's co-head of EMEA banking, fortuitously quit Credit Suisse himself after three decades late last year, and has been picking off his former colleagues for his new employer. But Welter's three or four senior CS hires have barely made a dent on the number of people who will soon be on the market. "If you have a possible offer, you need to lock it on quickly," advises one London investment banking headhunter. "It's hard to exaggerate the impact Credit Suisse people will have. Hundreds of people are going to be unemployed, and it's not clear where they're going to go." 

While recruitment processes in banks are typically elongating and candidate concern is rising, some areas of financial services hiring are impervious to the issues. Mike Sharp fills quant and technology roles for hedge funds and electronic trading firms in London and New York, and says his clients are as buzzed about hiring as before. In his world, Sharp says it's candidates who are often hesitant. They are "very fussy," says Sharp. "They are already in compelling roles. When our clients find someone they are particularly interested in, they will move very, very quickly." 

How quickly? Sharp says the quickest is usually two and a half months from the inception of the recruitment process to the signing of the contract. By comparison, Keizner says his recruits are typically being processed over a process of up to three months instead of "weeks or days." This isn't so bad. "It's just a return to normal after the frenzied Zoom-filled period of the pandemic," Keizner adds.


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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • As
    Associate Intern
    13 April 2023

    Hey Sarah!

    I'd love to know when the slow paced recruiting cycle turn around(maybe in 2023, or maybe even till 2025).

    I'm not sure but the most accurate numbers can be M&A deal volume going up. But I'm worried if the recession comes up in late 23 and lasts too long upto late 24, it may impact M&A market & likely jobs. Do you think it's a problem for fresher candidates out of undegrads or MS in Finance courses?

  • ph
    13 April 2023

    It's not just the new slowdowns. Some financial firms are so badly managed that no one will make decisions, plus HR recruiting teams often screen out the best candidates just to whittle down their resume piles, leaving hiring managers with no one they want. I had one hiring manager I know tell me that HR gave him only 2 applicants (out of many), with none actually qualified, yet he knew that a number of good people had applied - but HR would not allow him to interview people he knew were good. Also, banks at whatever level have gotten even worse about ghosting applicants. I check status on positions I've applied for, and as much as a year later I'm 'being considered'. I get told 'next round of interviews is in about 2 weeks', and 2 months later have heard nothing - and not been rejected.

    Also, I used to encounter at least some internal recruiters that actually knew something about the business and its needs. Now it's just a numbers game for them.

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