Danos Group
25 Jan

We are well into the New Year, the economy is strong and this confidence in the market creates fluidity. This, alongside the ever growing need for regulation means it is a busy time for financial services recruitment.

As the recruitment needs increase, those hiring are truly starting to feel the impact of the compensation history ban. Nearly three months in, we look at the effect it has had so far.

Addressing the gap

The philosophy behind the legislation closing the gender pay gap is, in the main, universally supported. Women were reported to be earning 20% less than men in the same job and disturbingly, women from ethnic minorities even less. Something quite rightly needed to be done to address it.

It in itself is being exploited

While we hope the new law proves to solve the imbalance, it can also be exploited for the purpose of heightened salary inflation and we have had to manage this carefully. At the more junior end of the spectrum in particular, some candidates are using the compensation ‘veil’ as an opportunity to go for larger (and previously unjustified) salary jumps.

With penalties of up to $250,000 there has been a reluctance for companies to go near discussion around salary. Add the loss of previous compensation as a guide into the equation and recruiters are finding that without proper advice, the process has been taking much longer as salary negotiations draw out. Some find out much too late in the process the extent of the gap between expectation and budget and others find themselves taking a leap of faith that they are not paying much more than they should.

Adding value for our clients

This is where we, as a recruitment specialist have found we can add even more value to our clients. While we too cannot ask about candidates’ compensation history we do have a broader knowledge of the market. With visibility of what people are being paid, going into roles across the industry, we can offer sound advice on what the right salary bracket should be. This gives our clients reassurance they are not unintentionally excessively overpaying or indeed restricting themselves from attracting the top talent by underpaying.

With this knowledge we can also have frank conversations with our candidates so they know what is fair to expect at the outset. By truly getting to know the needs, motivations and expectations of both our candidates and clients we can match the right people to the right organization.

Some are choosing to disclose

Happily, we are finding particularly with the mid to senior end of the market, candidates trust us to freely offer their previous salary information. At their level they find it beneficial to be upfront with the client, saving time if a compromise is out of reach. They feel it shows transparency and seriousness about a role. They also recognize that a company can request salary information after an offer has been made and being found to have been unfair is not the best way to start a new job.

They know being overpaid can leave them vulnerable if lay-offs are made and that it can be more difficult to move around so there is no point in trying to take advantage to push for an above market offer. Interestingly, giving their historic information can often act as a justification point to negotiate a new higher salary or show that if they are at the top end of their bracket it is because they are worth it!

Finding balance

The clients we work with are not trying to pay less than they should, they just want to know what is fair and appropriate. It is still early days and playing out but in time we are hopeful that with the help of specialist expertise, candidates who try and take advantage find balance and recruiters reach a process that works more efficiently. We all want to avoid firms feeling forced to be rigid with their bandings, not being able to offer flexibility for the most talented people.

While the eyes of the rest of the country and indeed the world are on this as a solution to a fairer working environment, we are committed to doing everything we can to help it thrive.

If you would like our support in finding the right candidates for your roles with the expertise that helps navigate the new law please do get in touch.

15 Jan

Today is supposed to be ‘Blue Monday’ – said to be the most depressing day of the year. For some, the memories and joy of the holiday festivities are fading, another New Year’s resolution may have been broken and that summer holiday is a bit too far away to offer any solace.

There’s not much we can do about that but, pseudoscience aside, if your motivational levels, lack of challenge or even bank balance are causing you distress today, we can help you make a positive step forward.

We pride ourselves on being able to match talent not just to the requirements of the role, but to the style of the organisation. This means we can be sure that the hundreds of candidates we have placed for our elite client base across the globe are happy in the right place for them.

We know that for some, depression is serious and not limited to one day so we’ll be making a donation, as part of our ongoing support to the Mental Health Charity Mind https://www.danosassociates.com/charity/

Have a good Monday everyone.

12 Jan

We head in to 2018 partnering with Justice Without Borders who share our belief that everyone is entitled to work without exploitation

We’re seeing a positive shift in attention given to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Asia. What some initially saw as a passing trend is becoming an important and opportunistic business and social change and we at Danos Associates want to ensure we continue to be at the forefront of it.

Global companies like ourselves, have been among the first to take the lead from western organisations for whom CSR has more of a long standing foundation. Since we established our business in Asia in 2012 we have been very mindful of our own staff wellbeing and development, environmental consciousness, workplace environment and contribution to society.

With a history of raising money for individual causes we want to head into 2018, growing our businesses responsibility and so have partnered with Justice Without Borders (JWB). This incredible not-for-profit organisation share our belief that everyone is entitled to work without exploitation and allows us to reach beyond our own workplace and help carve out a positive future of all employees.

While we know that we at Danos Associates and the companies we place our candidates in have strong social values, sadly the same cannot be said for everyone. Despite social issues such as human rights, worker’s rights, the environment, health and corruption being prominent in Asia, CSR has only recently become more widely recognised as a fundamental part of a businesses structure and ethos – and there is still a way to go. Despite economic growth, Asia still has the largest number of people living on less than $1 a day and with this comes social unrest and poor development of affected workforces.

For those affected at the most severe end of this scale, JWB provide direct logistic and legal support to victims of labour exploitation and human trafficking. They work closely with migrant aid organisations, university clinical legal education programmes and their law students, lawyers, and legal aid associations in targeted host and home countries.

Their work extends to the future prevention of this by documenting the learnings from cases to improve client services and to support legal and policy advocacy aimed at advancing migrants’ fundamental rights.

As a business that takes great pride and responsibility in placing candidates into the right roles, we at Danos Associates want to see a continent where every employee can feel happy, safe and fairly compensated for their work.

Justice Without Borders is holding an Annual Fundraiser Event, sponsored by us at 7pm at Fang Fang, 8/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, on Wednesday, January 24th 2018.

This event will gather a curated crowd of senior professionals to an exclusive evening of networking over drinks and nibbles, while raising funds for a good cause. If you would like to attend this event or want more information, please do get in touch.

03 Jan

Deadline Day. What now for our Compliance teams?

Many people up and down the country will have planned their annual leave to give them a long Christmas break. While the most taxing decision they had to make was what they could do with the leftover turkey, if you work in Compliance it’s likely you were at your desk in a final gallant push to meet the MiFID II deadline.

Now that the deadline has finally arrived, what does this mean for our Compliance teams?

This isn’t like an assignment you can hand in, breathe a sigh of relief and walk away from. Many people have come to accept this deadline as the first furlong in a long race. It simply acts as a point to show that teams have taken the regulation seriously and put clear plans and processes in place, but such is the nature of the beast, it will require further development and continuous attention.

If you feel like you aren’t 100% ready, you’re not alone. It seems that while teams have made their best endeavour to meet the requirements, realistically, many know they haven’t covered it all in its entirety. After being delayed a year, the hard deadline ESMA might have hoped would have been a ‘Big Bang’ may in fact be a medium one.

Interpretation is a word Compliance teams would have heard time and time again of late. So much of the regulation is left to a team’s understanding and how comfortable they feel being able to justify their response. Inevitably there will be variation in this and how far some firms are willing to take grey areas for competitive edge and potential to increase market share.

ESMA’s Q&A will bring clarity to these grey areas and there will be a need for those at the more relaxed or competitive end of the spectrum to adapt to avoid polite notices of shortfalls turning into fines further down the line. Then, invariably MiFID III will arrive to address the exposed loop-holes and the fun begins again.

So, there won’t be a mass ‘downing of tools’ today. Teams will be returning to the areas they hadn’t initially prioritised and revisiting and questioning the position their response puts them in from both a competitive and compliant perspective as scrutiny tightens.

From what will have dominated the schedules of many Compliance teams for some time now, the hours dedicated to this cause will start to decrease in time leaving capacity for other projects. With new waves of regulation being a fact of life in our ever changing environment and Brexit on the horizon they have a busy and interesting year ahead.

We have a team of MiFID II experts that can assess and safeguard your response and advise how the regulation can work best for you. We can provide a higher quality of practitioner at a far more competitive rate – and quickly. Please get in touch to find out more about our consulting services.

T: +44 (0) 20 7371 8332 E: dspearman@danosassociates.com

21 Dec

In multi-national organisations that many of us work in, where colleagues are heading home for their supper while we brace ourselves for a busy day ahead, we couldn’t help but wonder – who works harder?

Do us Brits spend hours a day making cups of tea? Do Americans really spend their Fridays in the summer in the park? Do our counterparts in Asia really have a public holiday every other week?

At Danos Associates, with offices in Europe, Asia and America, we put the question to our teams.

But first, let’s look at the facts. Statistics show that people in Hong Kong work the longest hours* – on average 50.1 a week! Americans are said to work on average 38.6 hours a week and the UK 36.5.

But does hours worked equate to productivity? Apparently not. In fact, countries topping the poll on Index Points; Mexico, New Zealand and Ireland to name a few all have average and below average weekly working hours.

In fact, it’s the amount of hours worked that are leading some to question Asia’s productivity and there are calls for setting limits on their maximum hours. Exhaustion and stress account for higher numbers of sick days, errors, accidents, fatigue and even total burn out.

Fortunately for our American colleagues, we’ve heard (and I’m sure this is the minority of course) they have a trick or two up their sleeves when it comes to taking a little breather at work. If you fancy popping out for a coffee, just put your jacket on the back of your chair and your colleagues will just think you’re doing something very important elsewhere in the office.

And, when they only get two weeks holiday a year who can blame them? Two weeks is standard for most juniors to start on, and it can take a while to work up to the 20 days most people enjoy as a minimum in the UK. Americans can often feel guilty about taking holiday to the extent they worry that it will reflect negatively on them.

No wonder public holidays are such a huge thing. There’s even a day – Labor Day, dedicated to honouring the achievements of workers. But could celebrating the likes of 4th July, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas with such gusto cause a distraction? While we’re cheekily trying to pick apart who works the hardest it seems that any checking out in the run-up and aftermath of a major holiday is made up by working at 100mph and being super productive either in preparation for or out of guilt after a major holiday. Fortunately it would seem, given the hours worked, it is our Asian friends who are the real winners when it comes to public holidays with a whopping 16 to our 8 the UK and 10 in America.

What about the working day? While we in the UK trek in to the city from the leafy suburbs, up to 2 hours each way where a snowman can sneeze and throw the transport system into chaos, Asian workers commutes tend to be better placed to see them arrive at work on time. It is still expensive to live near the cities but other costs are lower which means that more people can afford to live closer to work – that and their transport system is arguably more reliable.

And the hours? Our American friends seem to be sitting in the best spot when it comes to time-zones dictating working hours with a more affable day starting at 7am until 4.30/5pm. Our Asian colleagues however have to work into the night to be available for conference calls or to respond to decisions from their overseas offices. The American’s end of day seems to be a hard-stop with a mass exodus as the clock strikes 5 while in the UK many of us are guilty of working way into the evening.

And lunch? While office workers in the UK are a nation of people who eat at their desks, our Asian colleagues are most likely to take a lunch break, particularly in Singapore, and often up to 2 hours! If we were surrounded by authentic Asian cuisine perhaps we would do the same.

Asia isn’t alone with it’s productivity coming under fire. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) UK productivity has fallen since 2007. With Brexit hanging over us and the uncertainty this is causing, many companies haven’t been investing in tools and processes that can make us more efficient. Another area cited as an issue is lower educational standards in scientific and technical fields. One would think that as a wealthy country and home to some of the best universities in the world, our talent pool would be plentiful but compared to other countries we do see shortages in engineering, software, data analysis and IT. Our engagement is also said to be a problem. In a recently survey by research firm ORC International, the UK was second from last when it comes to engagement. It seems we don’t feel encouraged to be innovative and fewer than half of us feel valued at work. Poor leadership was said to be a key factor.

So, who works the hardest?

Hours would suggest Hong Kong, productivity would say New Zealand.

Jane from New York would say America, John from London would say UK and Chan in Hong Kong would say Hong Kong.

We know that Economists and statistics show that more hours doesn’t necessarily equate to more productivity. The French have even recently introduced a new law banning out of hours work emails in this vein.

We’ve seen that how hard a person can work is impacted by many things and better results won’t be derived by simply cracking the whip harder. While there are factors that are unique to industries and countries, things that are crucial for productivity across the globe are investment, innovation, training, efficient processes and quality and motivating leadership.

We must be working hard. We see hardworking and talented individuals all around us and we’re driving our economies forward – even through turbulent times.

Enjoy your holidays everyone – you deserve it!


Statistics sources:

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Trading Economics

China Daily Asia

*Hours worked include full-time and part-time workers, excluding holidays and vacation time.

07 Dec

Statistics released by the Law Society show that the number of solicitors working in-house is growing at a faster rate than those in private practice. Our Associate Partner and Head of Legal Practice James Limburn looks at the 7 reasons why.

1. Feeling part of the bigger, commercial picture and working with a wider range of people

Many lawyers who move in-house really enjoy having the opportunity to work with different departments. Not only are they exposed to new people, personalities and skill-sets but they get to see the impact of the advice they give in practice. Furthermore, they work closely with Senior Management. Because of the collaborative environment, they develop business skills and are often brought into decision making as their commercial input becomes valued as well as their legal advice. This makes them feel part of the wider business strategy and commerciality. In private practice this level of exposure is rare and their part in the overall business is more ambiguous. Finally, lawyers in private practice can often get given work midway through a deal, just for part of a deal or only when there is an issue. In-house however, lawyers get the fulfilment of seeing something through from start to finish. It is also easier for them to pinpoint areas or projects where they have made a real difference and see how that has contributed to positive performance.

2. Escape the pressure of billable hours and business development

A private practice lawyer’s survival, salary and career progression rely heavily on their amount of billable hours and consequently the need for business development. Not only does this fuel the exhaustion that comes from working long hours but it takes lawyers away from what they are trained to do and forces them into a sales role, which doesn’t always sit comfortably and of course means even more time working. This simply doesn’t exist in-house – you are the client. The internal client is always there and the company pay your salary for your technical and commercial acumen, not for sales or being on the clock 24/7. Those who are motivated by their financial contribution can still get a sense of reward through their impact on the P&L by contributing to product structuring and development and further still through their legal efficiency resulting in cost savings.

3. Career progression

Private practice lawyers are seeing ever increasing competition for partnership while in-house lawyers are enjoying broader career opportunities. In a law firm, the career path is relatively one dimensional, starting as an associate and then the lengthy slog to Partnership. This can be a long road, with an end that is not guaranteed. In-house there are a variety of long-term career opportunities with moves between practice disciplines and even to the business side. Promotions happen more frequently and are easier to attain.

4. Better work-life balance

You don’t have to look too far in a private practice to see someone who has slept under their desk, had to cancel a holiday, worked the weekend or missed their child’s bedtime again this week. While they are putting in at least 1800 chargeable hours a year (plus time spent on business development and training), in-house lawyers agree that by only having one client to serve, while they may need to work additional hours during busy periods, they have shorter working days and more control over their schedules. By truly getting to know both our clients’ and candidates’ needs, we match talent not just to the requirements of the role, but to the style of the organisation and the culture our candidates want to be part of.

5. Greater variety of work

Private practice lawyers can find themselves working in isolation and focusing on one area of law. While some may like specialising, in-house lawyers develop a greater breadth of knowledge and enjoy the variety this brings. Expertise can still come with really being able to get under the skin of the client and the deeper insight this allows. Working for a large, global company brings with it exciting, high-profile and sophisticated work that isn’t necessarily accessible to private practice.

6. Job stability

The number of organisations moving legal in-house is growing as the greater control and economic benefits become clearer. This only adds to the difficultly private law firms have finding new clients. Add to this, some of the high profile private practice failures and the increasingly stable economic conditions for companies, law firms can no-longer be seen as the secure option.

7. Bridged salary gap

It is a common misconception that in-house lawyers earn markedly less than their counterparts over in private practice. This is dependent on the company and the position and where the salary is less, stock options and bonuses can often more than bridge the gap. For many, where time has always been money, they begin to view this in a different light as they value more time with their loved ones.

It is important for legal professionals to consider how they hope their career will progress and what elements of their working and non-working lives they value the most. If for you, this tips the scale to in-house in the financial services I’d be very happy to help you make this move.