Danos Group
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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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.