Danos Group
19 Apr

Licensed financial institutions in Hong Kong and Singapore are facing ever-increasing responsibilities, and it’s the compliance function that’s bearing the burden of keeping firms up to date and out of trouble.

This week marks the commencement date for the information collection period of the SFC’s Manager-in-Charge regime, which comes into effect for the 2000 licensed entities in Hong Kong in July this year. This new protocol will see a ramping up the personal liability of individuals within financial organisations, should any wrongdoing be discovered.

Meanwhile, the MAS has been tightening its scrutiny on fraud and financial crime in Singapore since last year, strengthening AML enforcement teams and conducting more onsite inspections in the wake of the 1MDB scandal, which saw the withdrawal of Falcon Bank’s private banking license.

As a result, the compliance market across Asia’s international financial centres is running hot, with firms everywhere in need of the best talent available.

What this means for firms…

Financial institutions are left with the question of whether to ask more of existing teams or to buy in the technical skills they need to meet the regulators’ demands. 2016 was a challenging time for securing new headcount and making external hires, so many firms may already be somewhat under-served in the compliance function, particularly in the area of financial crime.

It does seem that a number of firms are responding by increasing financial crimes headcount. While some banks expanded their compliance teams three or four years ago when facing regulatory issues or consent orders, others are only just starting to adjust to the increased regulatory expectations in this area, and are having to play catch-up to keep up-to-date.

…And for talent

Those with financial crimes experience will be highly in demand, and there is an increasing demand for compliance candidates with technology as well as project and change management experience. Good controls and risk management skills are also in demand at present.

That said, when I speak to top candidates in my network, many are worried about the increased workload that the Manager-in-Charge regime is expected to entail, with some also reluctant to take leadership roles where they could become personally liable if anything goes wrong. This could lead to a talent shortage for the most critical Hong Kong compliance roles, with some top individuals not chasing promotions in favour of a slightly easier life, even though we’re seeing increases in salaries and generous bonuses for those who move at the senior end of the talent spectrum.

Given the reluctance of some compliance professionals to accept greater responsibilities, a strong attraction strategy will be key to securing the talent needed to meet continuously evolving compliance requirements. Offering the right remuneration and benefits will be essential to investing in the talent needed.

I expect we will see significant competition over the top talent in both Hong Kong and Singapore this year, and it’s likely that firms will have to battle it out to get the best people to helm the increasingly more critical compliance function.

If you need to improve your compliance capacity this year, get in touch on + 852 2870 3007 or email markmoorby@danosassociates.com

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11 Apr

A little over three years ago, BBVA’s visionary chief executive, Francisco González, wrote a Financial Times op-ed which began: “Some bankers and analysts think that Google, Facebook, Amazon, or the like will not fully enter a highly regulated, low-margin business such as banking. I disagree. What is more, I think banks that are not prepared for such new competitors face certain death.”

At the time, the prediction ruffled some feathers, but in just a few short years, it has already come to pass, with those three companies, plus Apple and AliPay, making overtures in the world of finance and upending the status quo.

Leveraging their intimacy with their customers and their technical capacity, they are able to create systems from the ground up that integrate neatly into their customers’ daily lives and, importantly, face none of the legacy issues that 100+ year old banking institutions have to deal with.

Banks playing catch-up

But deal with legacy issues they must, if banks wish to survive the next 100 years – or even the next 10. Digital transformation is key, and the digitisation of risk is an exciting opportunity for lenders. McKinsey & Co. has found that by digitising these processes, costs can be cut by up to 90%.

Attractive though such savings are, digital transformation is a difficult and messy job, and even those firms and institutions that recognise the enormous potential available to them are sometimes dragging their heels because of a lack of resourcing, low stakeholder buy-in and the tenacity of traditions.

Top talent required…

My clients are looking for people across all levels and the different disciplines of risk management with experience of the digitalisation of risk processes. Ideally candidates will be well-versed in one or more of the key regulatory requirements for digital risk (CCAR, BCBS 239, FRTB).

On top of this highly specialised skillset, they want candidates who have both the technical skills including advanced analytics, data science and data transformation, robotics and machine learning, and the essential soft skills such as innovative thinking, stakeholder engagement, communication and change management.

Additionally, since every institution will be slightly different, and the technologies affecting regulations are always changing, decision-makers must constantly be looking to the future, and finding ways to expand on the knowledge and skills within their businesses.

…But competition is fierce

When I speak to these top professionals, they are looking for roles in innovative environments with modern management styles and less hierarchical structures, where they can use their skills to bring true value and lasting benefits to their organisation.

It’s not enough for banks to simply offer competitive remuneration – although that’s also essential. They must also create an employer value proposition that will stand up next to those of tech firms; they are no longer just competing with other financial institutions for talent, but also with the glamour of Silicon Valley.

Proactive innovation creates rewards

González didn’t just talk the talk of competing with tech. As far back as 2007, BBVA was implementing transformation programs to take advantage of the opportunities offered by online banking, and to future-proof its operations. It now offers one of the most advanced risk functions in the global market, and the results speak for themselves. Other banks setting the standard in this arena include ABN AMRO and ING.

While it can be harder for old institutions with long histories to move in this agile manner, it’s becoming more and more critical, and the risk function sits at the very heart of this digital transformation.

If digital transformation in risk is top of mind in 2017, contact me on +44 (0) 203 542 1611 or rbh@danosassociates.com to start a discussion about your talent needs.

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04 Apr

With the Prime Minister having submitted the paperwork to enact Article 50 last week, the question on all our clients’ lips is: what does the next two years – and beyond – hold for the industry?

While no-one has the crystal ball that will give the answer to that question, there are some things that we can be confident in:

#1 The media will continue to exaggerate everything

Heard the one about the major financial institution sending thousands of jobs to Frankfurt? In January, we heard that Goldman Sachs was considering relocating up to half of its workforce out of London. Fast forward to last week, and the figure is more like hundreds – and it became clear that the firm is also planning to bulk up its European presence with local hires – not just with London transfers. Growth in Europe doesn’t necessarily equate to a reduction in London.

This is just one example, but as ever, it’s wise to take the reportage with a grain of salt and read beyond the headlines.

#2 Business was evolving before the vote and will continue to do so after we leave

Another thing that’s been glossed over in reporting about businesses decamping from the UK is that many of these plans were in the offing well before the idea of Brexit reached the national stage.

As organisations grow in size and complexity, the way they hire is rapidly evolving – cloud computing and the increasing digitalisation of the industry means that decentralising from London has become a far more viable and efficient option in the last few years. Globally, businesses are looking to create efficiencies by outsourcing and offshoring. The nature of the roles is changing, but there is always demand for top finance talent in the City.

#3 It’s unlikely that the UK will go down the deregulation route

With the credit crunch still a recent memory, it’s highly unlikely that there will be a move towards deregulation following Brexit, as some have suggested – in fact, we might see even more regulations arise from the move.

Far from turning the UK into another island tax haven, parliament is already proposing a bill that would transfer thousands of EU regulations into UK law, with likely many more to follow. This means we’re likely to continue seeing a high demand for talented compliance professionals.

#4 A lot can happen in two years

Since Danos Associates opened its doors in 2004, we have seen seismic changes in the finance industry, from the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent domino effect across Wall St and the City, to the heightened scrutiny of the Financial Services Act that followed.

It’s safe to say that no-one wants more changes of this kind – and in an industry as valuable as financial services, it’s likely that it will be kept protected from major upset.

#5 Uncertainty = opportunity

When we speak to our clients, one thing is clear – and that’s that nothing is clear. No-one is sure what’s going to happen next; some clients are cautious and risk averse, while others are more optimistic about the possibilities and opportunities. But it’s often out of these challenging circumstances that businesses thrive, and that the talent and ingenuity of their people shine.

We are confident that demand for the best financial services talent to navigate this period of change will be highly competitive.

The bottom line as the clock begins to tick towards April 2019 is that optimistic pragmatism is the order of the day. Whatever happens beyond the UK’s exit from the Union will bring exciting challenges to the financial services industry.

Danos Associates is a boutique financial services recruitment firm, working with blue chip financial institutions to meet their compliance, risk, and legal recruitment needs. To start a conversation about your talent requirements, contact us on info@danosassociates.com or +(0) 20 3542 1605

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03 Apr

Danos Associates has been in the business of providing talent for global financial

services companies since 2004 and is now recognised internationally as a first class source for compliance, risk, and legal recruitment. Over the years we have built up connections with a vast pool of talent from which we can select the ideal candidate for a client’s requirements. We can introduce you to the right person wherever your business happens to be situated in the Americas, EMEA, and APAC.

We know that our clients have stringent requirements and that these can vary considerably as risk functions are constantly changing. We cover every type of risk function including market risk, operational risk, risk data science and transformation, conduct and risk governance, risk innovation and digitalisation, and credit and counterparty risk. We can select from a highly talented and professional pool which displays a combination of many years of experience together with the skills that are much in demand in the financial sector.

All you need to do is to tell us exactly what you require and we will search through both our existing contacts and conduct a contingency search in order to ensure that we cover every possible avenue. Our aim is to find not just the individual with the perfect skills for the position that you need to fill, but one who is capable of adapting to your way of working.

Danos Associates are also at the forefront in the area of compliance recruitment. Since our inception in 2004 we have never yet failed to fulfil our clients’ requirements in compliance recruitment. Compliance is ever-changing and we are proud to be able to lay claim to the fact that we have an extraordinary pool of talent in this sector. We are constantly headhunting and researching the compliance candidate area, and we meet new talent. Typically we aim to produce a comprehensive long list which can be reduced to a short list of perhaps between six to eight individuals who possess all of the skills our client requires.

We also work actively in the legal field and have access to many legal professionals with the experience needed by financial services companies. We acquired Gibson Limburn in 2016 in order to better provide a service to every area of the financial sector including hedge funds, fund managers and investment banking.

17 Jul

UK

Compliance

After recording our biggest ever quarter, the EMEA compliance market shows no signs of slowing down.  We have seen significant increases in demand for top compliance talent across Europe and this quarter we have worked on retained search mandates in Dublin, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Geneva, Jersey, The Netherlands and Madrid.  The London market remains buoyant with most of the major financial services firms recruiting and we’ve seen a number of firms making significant changes to their senior compliance management teams.   With the MiFID II and GDPR deadlines now past, firms are beginning to look to the next big piece of legislation SMCR and how that is going to affect their businesses.

Risk

We continue to see requirements in model validation with increasing competition for the stronger candidates (experience of pricing and risk models, multiple asset classes and strong stakeholder engagement skills). There are increasing requirements in credit risk across investment banking, corporate and retail and the growth of offshored risk teams continues to rise, especially in European centres (Frankfurt, Dublin, Brussels and also Geneva/Zurich). There is often a preference to fill these roles with London based candidates open to relocating.

Legal

We have continued to see a fairly strong market in buy and sell side institutions in London, defying Brexit (in many cases to staff their Brexit projects) to yield further growth.  The market for lawyers in  FinTech, Hedge Funds and boutiques also continues to develop.

A significant trend this quarter has been toward greater resolve (and now expenditure) on the part of financials to prepare for Brexit.  Growth in Luxembourg, Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris has become a massive strain on existing teams, whose staff members are being used to seed new teams across the jurisdiction and salaries for replacement hiring barely differ from London rates.  A surprise in what were previously mooted as relatively low cost jurisdictions.

The Americas

The second quarter of 2018 has seen a continued surge of hiring activity across the US, albeit across broader fields than the traditional institutional hotspots.  With many bulge bracket firms building out their consumer businesses and pushing further into that space, there is a continued need for consumer compliance expertise both in New York and more broadly across the US.  The buy-side has also seen increased need for compliance support with growth in that space and high levels of movement so far this year.  The FinTech phenomenon continues to provide interesting opportunities for compliance personnel from more ‘traditional’ settings, with much need for talent mostly on the West Coast, but also across the country.

Asia Pacific

Within Compliance the larger international banks are largely focused on replacement hires, which can offer the chance to upgrade positions and reshape teams. Buy Side firms and Regional Banks are looking to continue increasing their headcount across Compliance and Financial Crime in response to continued tightening of Regional Regulations. The alternative fund space has seen new, often more senior, headcount and fairly high turnover as the candidate pool is shallow, whilst more traditional fund managers  are strengthening their China focused teams and those covering investment monitoring and financial crime.

Within the Risk space in Hong Kong and Singapore there is continued replacement hiring in Credit Risk and a shortage of candidates with strong Quant skills. Operational Risk is once again an active area of hiring with many of the positions looking for candidates with a strong line of business knowledge rather than higher level controls oversight.