Danos Group
30 May

Throughout the US, we are seeing a huge hiring drive for financial services professionals, particularly in the Compliance function. Last year was a fairly stagnant year in the industry, with hiring freezes in many of the big firms.

This is a cyclical trend that follows the election cycle – we see a slowdown in election year and a boom the year after as hiring picks up, so it was not unexpected that firms took a wait-and-see approach while a turbulent election campaign took place. Brexit, too, is a possible factor in the cautious attitude firms took toward hiring in 2016.

More movement in the market

Now that the market is more stable, firms have come out of hiatus, and it is likely that the huge amounts of hiring we are now seeing now is due to a combination of:

·        Replacement hiring due to natural attrition during 2016;

·        Catch-up headcount – filling the gap in natural growth from last year;

·        Building out new functions.

The Compliance professionals we speak to are feeling more comfortable with the idea of moving roles, whereas last year they were staying put – many were reluctant even to interview for new roles.

What are firms looking for?

The firms we work with are looking for front office sales & trading advisory compliance professionals across all products, and in large numbers. We are currently placing a number of professionals into securities division compliance, within major investment banks.

Firms are also looking to fill out their capabilities across new functions; as trading becomes more automated and tech focused, there’s a need to bolster regulatory cover. Electronic trading coverage is sought after, and firms are looking for quant and tech specialists rather than traditional lawyers or compliance officers for this space.

That said, there is no one specialty being prioritized for hiring over any other: there is simply a lot of hiring across the board.

What’s on offer?

With so much competition and in such a fluid market, firms are having to move quickly, as the top applicants are receiving multiple offers, with top prospects are being offered strong remuneration and benefits packages.

The message here? Now is a very good time for Compliance professionals to look for a new job – firms are highly motivated to boost their capabilities and top candidates will be in high demand.

If you’re a financial services professional in Compliance considering your next move, contact me today on +1 212 600 4827 or gpotter@danosassociates.com

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25 May

Danos Associates, recognised globally as a specialist Compliance recruitment firm, has now moved into the Risk space in APAC. Following on from the successful establishment of the EMEA Risk practice under Ruaridh Brown-Hovelt, I was approached by Danos Associates to start the Asia Risk practice from the Singapore office.

Synergy in Risk and Compliance

This was an ideal match considering the crossover in the Risk and Compliance functions, as the roles require similar skillsets. The establishment of the Risk practice in Asia has meant that we can continue to build on existing relationships and specialisations. Increasingly, our clients are looking to partner long term with specialists who can assist across connected areas – both geographically and across the key infrastructure areas of Compliance, Risk and Legal.

We are therefore able to offer a seamless global service, often working with the same firms across multiple locations and verticals, providing the same quality specialist approach across the related areas of Compliance, Risk and Legal. As an example, I recently placed a very hard-to-fill role in Japan for a key Compliance client who we work with globally.

We have the advantage of a deep global network, so we can draw on the best – whether that’s from the local, regional or global talent pool – not just the best available at the time.

My experience

Having been a specialist in the Risk market in Asia (Singapore and Hong Kong) for many years, I am able to offer firms my deep understanding of the market, long term relationships with top talent and the ability to identify hidden talent that organisations might struggle to identify and attract directly.

In particular, with inherent challenges in the Singapore Compliance market including a thin talent pool and lack of in-depth experience, we are now able to uncover talent in the related field of Risk (largely Operational Risk) to help hiring managers overcome the hurdles.

Risk areas we cover

We recruit within the key areas of Risk for our clients, including:

  • Business Risk, Business Control, Business Supervision
  • Credit Risk
  • Market risk (eg. Equities, FX, Rates, Credit Products, Commodities)
  • Non-financial risk (eg. Business Continuity, Cyber Security, Outsourcing/Vendor Management risk)
  • Operational risk
  • Quantitative risk (Model Validation, Front-Office Quant)
  • Treasury and Asset Liability Management or Balance Sheet Management 

What are firms looking for?

Right now, firms are particularly looking to strengthen their first line of defence, and are taking candidates from the 2nd line and moving them to partner more closely with the business. They are looking for all-rounders who are agile, who can adapt and thrive in an environment of change, and have both the technical skills and the stakeholder engagement and influencing talent to be effective business partners.

We are also seeing firms hiring in the area of Market Risk at a mid to senior level, with a focus on Equities in Hong Kong and Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities in Singapore and Sydney.

If you’re looking for top candidates to strengthen your Risk team, contact me today on +65 6233 6882 or katherineho@danosassociates.com

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23 May

The last 6-7 years have been a period of massive growth for the Compliance space in Singapore as a result of increased regulatory pressure across the globe. Accordingly, demand for Compliance talent has boomed since then. We are now at a point where the market is more mature, but the rapid growth has created a unique challenge for hiring managers seeking the best talent for their teams.

There are three main challenges I see when I speak to hiring managers seeking to fill middleweight to senior roles:

1. Lack of in-depth experience

When firms started to realise they needed far more Compliance personnel than was available at the time, hiring managers began pulling talent from a patchwork of related backgrounds, like Legal, Risk and Audit. Increased salaries and an active hiring market enticed people who weren’t necessarily experienced for the roles into the Compliance function, and the bidding war began.

In the current market, firms no longer need to focus purely on increasing the headcount and size of compliance function, so hiring volume has dropped from the highs of a few years ago. But challenges remain, with firms now looking to source more specialist, experienced or technically skilled people.

As financial services firms focus on cost – and with the spotlight increasingly falling on compliance – Compliance hiring managers in Singapore have been reluctant to buy in new talent from external sources. Instead, they have looked internally, which solves short-term headcount issues, but leaves firms over-exposed and without new sources of knowledge and expertise bolstering their bench-strength. With many firms currently splitting out headquarters and functions, the next generation of leaders is required, but firms are finding that the rapid expansion has left them short on expertise.

2. Thin talent pool

Another related issue is purely mathematical, and that’s the number of people available for these roles. While the number of people in the market has increased and many people are willing to jump ship for a large pay increase or instant title upgrade, it is harder to find experienced individuals looking to develop longer term careers. And with local and international firms competing for the same talent, resulting in a lack of options, particularly when it comes to the more specialist roles.

Although the pool is thin, there are still strong candidates for every job – they just might not be the obvious choice and may not be actively applying for roles – requiring specialist hiring knowledge to seek out the hidden talent.

3. Local hiring requirements

With the Singaporean government focused on creating more opportunities for Singaporeans, firms are looking to develop the local talent pool as much as possible.

This does however create challenges for organisations, as growing a generation of talent takes time, and firms are in a constant balancing act of choosing between promising local talent or bringing in exceptional overseas talent.

Danos Associates has been serving the Singapore Compliance market for 5 years, and our team’s combined 20 years’ specialist local Compliance experience means we’re ideally placed to help hiring managers get the specialist talent they need. With offices also in Hong Kong, London and New York, we are able to tap overseas markets when required. We focus on building long term relationships with top tier firms and the hiring managers within them, prioritising consistency and offering our services as genuine business partners.

To start a discussion about your compliance hiring needs, contact me on +65 6233 6871 or cdecarvalho@danosassociates.com

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10 May

We live in a cost constrained environment where the way we work and do business has fundamentally changed in every way. In the financial services sector, one of the major ways I see businesses shifting to take advantage of these changes is in how they allocate consultancy budget.

Have the leading consultancies  adapted to the needs of the organisations that engage them? Financial Services firms are evaluating the cost and calibre of the consultant offering and often find the results lacking – and the major consultancies will soon be forced to adapt as businesses reconsider this large overhead. Here are the three main forces that I see driving these changes:

1.     Firms are seeking efficiencies

When I speak to my clients who hire consulting firms, I’m hearing time and again that consultants are mainly brought in for staff augmentation during busy periods, and that 70–80% of consultancy spend is on heavy-lifting tasks – that is, the necessary but hands-on jobs that form a large part of the workload for teams across infrastructure.

In effect, this means that firms are paying top prices for the privilege of training up junior consultants – and organisations are now waking up to this fact. When bang for buck is a top priority for businesses worldwide, this kind of expenditure is simply not justified. What firms really need is a qualified, flexible contingent workforce that can come in and hit the ground running – at far less inflated prices.

2.     Technology has created an explosion in offshoring and near-shoring

Some firms have already begun to find alternative ways to meet these needs, and at the same time, technology is making more options available. Firms are choosing to outsource or offshore niche specialist tasks – such as financial crime to Belfast, or to engage subcontracting consulting firms. This is a trend we’re seeing not only in Compliance and Risk, but also in Legal, where external counsel currently consumes a large part of the budget.

This technological shift is also creating a cultural shift: where it was once seen as the safest bet to hire in one of the major consultancies, the same move could now be considered inefficient. As more options become available, I expect more competition at more cost-effective prices.

3.     Top quality people are looking for flexible ways of working

The third piece of this puzzle is that more and more top quality professionals are pursuing independent consulting as a long-term career path. Where once people sought decade-long tenures at recognised firms, this is no longer the case, with independent consulting professionals prioritising the flexibility, stimulation and remuneration of short-term assignments.

This means that the population available for agile staffing solutions is rapidly increasing, and that top talent is no longer only accessible via the big consulting firms. Organisations can now utilise this decentralised workforce to take more responsive and immediate action when needed.

It’s for these reasons that we launched Danos Consulting, which operates alongside the existing recruitment business. We now have a bench of over 5000 expert professionals who are ready to work across Compliance, Risk, Financial Crime and Legal, delivering the same results on a much smaller spend.

If you’re looking to reduce your consultancy spend while retaining quality results, call me on + 44 (0) 20 7471 8943 or email ddanos@danosassociates.com to discuss your consulting needs today

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03 May

As many of my contacts will already know, Danos Associates acquired my business, Gibson Limburn Search in January 2017. After our first successful quarter, I want to talk a little more about how this exciting development came about and the benefits it’s created for both the organisations and the professionals we work with in the specialist financial services legal space.

An ideal match

Increasingly in the financial services field, Legal and Compliance professionals are answering to the same heads of department (and even if not, working very closely) in both banks and financial institutions.

Given these closely aligned hiring needs and skillsets and the way Legal and Compliance functions are becoming increasingly interconnected, it made huge sense to begin discussions with Danos Associates in mid-2016 about joining forces to offer a greater service to both clients and candidates. The synergy between the businesses was immediately apparent, and the acquisition was completed in January 2017.

This has allowed Danos Associates to establish a Legal business and further extend its offering to its clients and existing network of professionals – many of whom are lawyers – and for me to connect with a broader cross-section of clients on behalf of my existing networks.

Still finding hard-to-get talent

The focus of the business at Gibson Limburn was always transactional and regulatory lawyers, including both those within technical product disciplines and those whose subject matter is inherently technical in this ever-adapting regulatory environment. This remains the case at Danos Associates.

For Compliance and Legal hiring managers, finding talented individuals with highly specialised skills in an already niche discipline – for example, a lawyer with equity derivatives experience in CPPI and Proprietary Indices – is an inherently difficult task, presenting roadblocks time and again, and we specialise in these hard-to-fill roles.

More opportunities for talent

Danos Associates’ Legal practice deals with a mixed client base, such that we are able to offer the right opportunities to lawyers with transactional and regulatory expertise. We work with investment banks, broker-dealers, large asset managers, hedge funds, private equity funds, prop trading houses, insurers, brokers and FinTech businesses. So, whether talented lawyers seek career progress, a job on the cutting edge or a flexible working environment, we can connect individuals with the best fit for them.

Greater access to specialists for organisations

The disciplines in which we specialise include derivatives across all asset classes, Financial Services Regulatory, Funds, Trade and Asset Finance and Corporate/Commercial Insurance. For firms looking for highly technical skillsets, Danos Associates’ Legal practice now has access to a larger pool of candidates across Legal and Compliance skillsets.

Our current reach and future plans

For the present, we operate primarily in the London market, though a successful Q1 has already seen assignments across Asia Pacific, the US and the Middle-East. For the future, we intend to expand both in London and across all our offices and create a tailored private practice offering specific financial disciplines within law.

If you need to fill a specialist legal role, get in touch on +44 (0) 203 889 5758 or jlimburn@danosassociates.com

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25 Apr

Our thoughts on last Friday’s announcement:

The moment we have been expecting since inauguration day has arrived – sort of. After promising during the election campaign to do away with the Dodd-Frank regulations implemented in the years following the financial crisis, President Trump has hit a six-month pause button on the provisions of Dodd-Frank that authorize the liquidation of distressed banks and the designation of non-banks as systemically important financial institutions.

What’s actually happening?

The Friday announcement was two-fold. The first part is an executive order giving the Treasury Secretary 150 days to review “all significant 2016 tax regulations to determine if they impose an undue financial burden on taxpayers, are needlessly complex, create unnecessary requirements, or exceed what is allowed under law”

The second part is a presidential memorandum giving 180 days to compile a report into the Orderly Liquidation Authority, to ascertain whether it “encourages risk-taking, creates moral hazard, or exposes taxpayers to potential liability.”

The banking sector reacts…

The Dodd-Frank question has been on everyone’s lips for the past few months, and it is very much top-of-mind when we speak to both clients and professionals in the compliance space. Many are sceptical about whether the changes will happen at all, given the vastness of the legislation and the difficulty in reversing it. Prominent commentators on either side of the aisle have both supported and criticised the move.

What does this mean for compliance recruitment?

It seems that either new legislation will be announced or the existing legislation will remain in reduced form. In each case, additional complexity will be introduced into the compliance function, requiring further capacity from an already overstretched function. It seems likely that this extra support will come in the form of permanent, temporary, or consulting support and this will be determined by the outcome of this legislation.

Business as usual, for now – and a positive outlook…

Despite uncertainty about what the next six months holds for the financial services industry, the outlook seems bright. Q1 saw a lot of movement and hiring, plus Morgan Stanley posted a 70% YoY increase in fixed revenue income, and Wall Street is expected to report its biggest week in a decade any day now.

It seems that firms – for the time being – are not trying to second guess what will happen with the regulatory landscape; bridges will be crossed when we come to them. In the meantime, business is decidedly booming. Businesses may be making hay while the sun shines…a lot of hay can be made in six months.

If you are looking for quality compliance professionals, call me on + 1 212 600 4827 or get in touch at gpotter@danosassociates.com

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