Candidate Demand in a Mobile, Digital, Data-Driven World 2018

BartleyHeath recently completed a lengthy search and talent mapping exercise to successfully place a Director-level Innovation and Strategy hire within Distribution for a global Asset Management company. This is a summation of client demands and a snapshot of the recruitment market for candidates with Innovation, Digital and Data skillsets.

Market Update

In the fields of Asset Management, Advisory and Wealth there are very few true innovators and a great deal of scope for Disruption. When recruiting innovation skillsets, Buy-Side firms must balance the benefits of industry specialists who can “speak the language” and the Disruptive advantages of hiring outside of industry.

2017 has seen a rise of demand in the recruitment of Innovation candidates. Candidates that illustrate successful delivery across Mobile, Data, Digital and Distribution will continue to enjoy a range of career opportunities in 2018 and beyond.

Candidate Demand in the Digital Journey

The Digital Journey is prominent amongst clients that hitherto were conservative in their approach to technology solutions.

Candidates that are working with Digital and Data strategies will be those that future-proof their careers in an industry facing increased regulatory pressure, cost efficiencies, consolidations, higher client demands and lower margins.

  • Custodians have large teams of talented technologists working across emerging technologies with a strategic focus on Blockchain.
  • The vibrant FinTech sector is an employer of choice for candidates at all levels of experience and delivering new products and services without some of luddite and political environments of traditional financial services institutions.
  • Asset Management, Wealth and Insurance Advisory Businesses are at a turning point to embrace FinTech and Disruptive Technology to solve emerging challenges and Senior Management need guidance and advice on how to get there.
  • Asset Managers look towards the Digital lead set by major online retailers and Wealth platforms. Increasingly, Mobile solutions act as the "shopfront", therefore Mobile and online offerings must easy to understand, easy to navigate and easy to buy. To lead and deliver this transformation requires quite a different candidate skillset from Fund Managers' traditional focus on Institutional Investment.
  • Financial Planning Businesses have traditionally had poor technology solutions so Advisory business have an exciting opportunity to offer their partners scalability through automation and efficiencies to manage more clients with fewer resources.
  • Innovation encourages cross-industry collaboration. Data-centric strategy utilising emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotics and Bio-Optics.
  • The rise of Bio-Optics links the Insurance industries with Health and Life Sciences.
  • Exciting cross-industry incubators group innovative companies together from preciously silo'd industries.

Maturity of the Digital Journey and the Impact on Candidate Selection

"We don't do that here…" The complexity of recruiting Digital Innovators is that there are few of them and the matrix of demands amongst senior Stakeholders spanning Business and Technology. 
Where does the role sit, is often the first question a potential candidate will ask and from experience in recent searches, there is sometimes no clear answer because digital maturities are not consistent across geographies nor business units. 
A successful candidate must navigate complex organisations to assess and elevate Capabilities but more importantly they must establish trust with internal and external partners to champion innovative strategy and drive technology.

The Expectations of Leaders in Innovation

  • Big Picture and Delivery
  • Appreciation of trends but also the architectural empathy to ensure that proposals are grounded within delivery
  • What strategic impact can my client expect in 6/12/18 months?
  • Examples of previous PoCs and evidence that they are delivering
  • The importance of data (life-blood of the organisation)
  • A clear picture of a future state Distribution ecosystem - automation, end-to-end marketing, sales and client cycle, CRM including AI and Analytics
  • A strong interest in Fintech, evidenced by the ability to converse about startups and ideally experience running an Innovation Hub or Incubation Lab
  • Strong verbal and written communication; senior executive presence and polish; speaks as a team player. 
  • A thought leader utilising digital channels like YouTube and LinkedIn to share content and engage with a wider network.
  • Has direct experience of delivering a pilot across Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, big data, algorithmic trading platforms or Blockchain
  • Conservative views need to be challenged and won which is something the candidate will hopefully enjoy.

At BartleyHeath, we are committed to ongoing relationships and adapting our headhunting approach to meet the exciting Digital, Data and Disruptive trends shaping our Asset Management, Advisory and Wealth clients.

If you would like to discuss your career or recruitment strategy for your business, then please contact me on linkedin, email, call 020 3137 3075 or 07852 595 777.



Flat Comp. High Expectations. Confident Candidates. Skill Shortages. Retention Challenges Facing the Buy-Side in 2015

Buy-Side recruitment improved in 2014 as obstacles for replacement hiring were removed and the competition for business-facing candidates increased. These trends increased salaries for new hires by up to 25%. In 2014, increasing candidate confidence in the job market prompted many to move jobs following several years of insecurity.

In 2015, overall sentiment amongst hiring managers within the Hedge Fund & Investment Management industry is positive. In this market update we will look into some of the trends driving this outlook. We will also highlight the main challenges facing hiring managers when it comes to staff retention, compensation and succession planning

2014 was a Good Year for Buy-Side Recruitment

Regulatory pressures, ever-increasing Business demands and a feeling of greater job security meant that 2014 was a good year for Technology & Operations recruiters.  
The three most common reasons for hiring were:

  1. Better serve the Front Office; 
  2. Improve data accuracy for reporting purposes; 
  3. Strengthen delivery by working closer with offshore development teams.

Retention and Succession Planning are Priorities for 2015

At the beginning 2014, recruiters experienced an immediate uptick in candidate enquiries. Frustrated candidates wanted to change jobs in the benign job market of 2011 – 2013 however they were hamstrung with a lack of vacancies and concerns around job security.

  • At the beginning of 2015, experienced candidates with Enterprise Data Management, BA skills, Risk, Performance or Front Office experience are confident to explore external opportunities.
  • Increased competition for Markit EDM and Charles River experience resulted in permanent staff leaving their jobs for contract roles. This trend is another sign that candidates share positive sentiment about future job security.
  • Demand is heightened within Technology & Operations because the same skills, systems, regulations and projects are ubiquitous throughout the Buy-Side. 
  • Technology & Operations face a lack of supply due to an aging workforce and restrictions on highly skilled migrants. The continued outsourcing/offshoring and use of specialist consultancies mean that few entry-level positions were created during the recession but fortunately graduate hiring is predicted to increase in 2015.

In Terms of Compensation is “Flat is the new Up”?

Bonus rounds began in January 2015 and early payers suggest that Comp figures are flat on the previous year. 

Increased cost and regulatory pressures have fettered better revenue generation amongst Long-Only Fund Managers. These cost pressures have an immediate impact on the remuneration of those working within Technology and Operations. 

  • Feedback from Asset Managers that have announced their comp in January suggest static budgets however candidate expectations are high due to better top line results. 
  • This disparity will result in staff turnover because employees feel more assured to pursue external opportunities and basic salaries for new hires are outpacing internal salary reviews.
  • In 2014, it was not uncommon to see candidates receiving 25% uplifts on their basic salary although the median is closer to 10%.

The Firms that Recruited High Volumes in 2014, Have New Direction in 2015

During last year, several Buy-Side firms, whom hitherto had been sedate for several years returned to the recruitment market. These firms joined a collection of Fund Managers and Asset Management arms of Investment Banks whom hired consistently high volumes to bolster large scale Transformation, Investment and Data projects.

  • Many firms that increased their levels of hiring in 2014 made changes to their senior IT management. The impact of these changes will be seen throughout 2015. 
  • It is likely these firms will turn their initial attention will be on delivery and optimising current headcount but expect these players be hiring in Q2/Q3 of 2015.

Skill Based Interviewing & Salary Benchmarking

The majority Of Buy-Side Tech & Ops hiring managers are planning for considered growth in 2015 as teams move into a pattern of “normalised” recruitment volumes.
Candidates hold a positive outlook due to increased competition amongst Buy-Side firms looking for experienced Business Analysts, Data Specialists, Risk and Performance Analysts. 

  • To overcome skill shortages we recommend you partner with agencies that conduct thorough Skill Based Interviews. We have success in recruiting for our Buy-Side clients by supplementing our specialist Buy-Side population with candidates from software vendors, insurance, consultancies and broker dealer environments.
  • The retention of staff is going to be harder than last year so if you need an external view on Salary Benchmarking for your team or indeed your own position then this is a non-billable service that we perform for clients.

I am always interested in your thoughts on what is happening market and welcome your feedback.



“I’m just looking for a good BA” – The Recruitment of Business Analysts

With ever-increasing demands on technology to achieve strategic business goals the role of a Business Analyst is a vital conduit. A conduit that links increasingly demanding users with IT systems.

When a recruiter takes requirements from a hiring manager a complex toolkit of technical and functional skills, in addition to less tangible soft-skills will usually be summed up with the statement “I’m just looking for a good BA”. Unfortunately, it is not that easy.

Requirement Gathering

A Business Analyst must conduct workshops and elicit requirements from stakeholders to create a solution to help a business achieve their strategic goals.

When generating suitable candidates, a Recruiter must understand individual client requirements, broad-stroke project deliverables, industry trends and specialist domain knowledge to screen potential candidates.

A good Recruiter must take somewhat vague statements, clarify and analyse them to understand the need for the hire and the role the candidate will play. A Recruiter must have the experience and confidence to personally interview candidates and match technical and soft skills offered by the prospect to those required by the hiring manager.

Lack of Clear Deliverables

The pitfalls are similar for a Business Analyst and a Recruiter. If specifications are unclear, unrealistic or inconsistent between stakeholders then time will be wasted exploring inappropriate solutions. To avoid frustration in the recruitment of Business Analysts, a hiring manager needs to team-up with an appropriate Recruiter that understands and has a network within your industry.

Intuition, Business Understanding and Methodology

The best Recruiters and the best Business Analysts share a common trait of curiosity. Without natural curiosity, one is unlikely to ask the questions that yield the depth of knowledge to succeed. Natural curiosity also ensures that Business Analysts and Recruiters are solution-oriented.

Intuition plays a part but so does a repeatable format to ensure one measures candidates accurately and without prejudice.

Working in conjunction with Directors from the Business and Technology, BartleyHeath uses a selection of topics to screen candidates:

  • Is the candidate a Business Analyst or Systems Analyst?

  • How does the candidate identify and solve problems? Is the candidate a Subject Matter Expert or does the candidate offer transferrable core analysis skills?

  • Can the candidate document a solution? Does the candidate understand the entire development process rather than solely stakeholder management and requirement gathering?

  • Ask the candidate to create a flowchart or map a process? Can the candidate use structural best practice to extract requirements, communicate understanding to get sign-off, written to track and test delivery?

  • Can the candidate clearly articulate and substantiate what is on their CV?

  • Has the candidate worked with offshore delivery teams and was change driven from within the business or by technology?

  • How does the candidate examine the facts and information, ask the right questions, perform research, and distill this information into a combination of documents, charts, workflows, technical specifications, and presentations?

  • Does the candidate have the soft skills to be successful? Ask for examples of when a candidate worked with stakeholders to understand a complex situation and advised where improvements could be made? Can the candidate motivate others to work with them and build rapport? Does the candidate illustrate curiosity, organisation, an attention to detail, commitment and a genial collaborative work ethic?

In summary, the selection process for finding strong Business Analysts is difficult and so is finding a Recruiter that can fully understand your hiring requirements. Hiring managers can reduce frustration and expedite the process by giving a Recruiter functional detail and identifying character attributes that will ensure potential candidates are attuned with the stakeholders and users they will be working with.

Recruitment is an analytical process where intuition and a predictable set of selection criteria plays an important role. There is more to a Business Analyst than being “just a good BA” and there is more to a Recruiter than someone who matches CVs to Job Descriptions.

 At BartleyHeath, we are committed to ongoing relationships with a unique pool of technology specialists. We partner with a candidate to access the market and find that person a job. That is very different proposition to simply managing applicants and I feel this will insulate us against the disruptive trends affecting the recruitment industry.

I am always interested to hearing your thoughts so please follow us on twitter, contact me on LinkedIn, email me on or call 020 3137 3075.


Jerry Maguire was right, and I don't mean, "Show me the money"

The Role Of Independent Recruitment Boutiques

This week saw the completion of BartleyHeath’s first month of trading and I have been thinking about the role that independent recruitment boutiques can play in a market clustered with large players and increased direct sourcing.

Do we need another recruitment agency?

This was a question often posed to me when I began telling my friends about my intentions to start my own agency. I must admit that initially it was a surprise to have my grand plan challenged but it certainly reflected today’s cost-focused reality that every stakeholder in the recruitment process is questioning the value of recruiters.

The world is better networked than ever before. Social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc., online job boards and forums like Stack Overflow have improved the access to candidates. The generation of employee referrals, direct advert responses, internal deployments and the activities of in-house or RPO recruitment teams are increasingly more efficient and companies are able to lower the average cost-to-hire.

The little black book is now open to the public so why would a company pay 20 - 25% for a placement when they can do it for free?

Agencies no longer have access to the “low-hanging fruit”. Bulk hiring and vanilla requirements are the domain of direct recruiters with brand loyalty that is far more powerful than that of any recruitment agency. We must specialise in a unique pool of talent. To be 20-25% better than a direct sourcing channel we must work with fewer candidates and more clients.

Candidates want real relationships

“I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and I'm not even a writer. I was remembering even the words of the original sports agent, my mentor, the late great Dickie Fox who said: 'The key to this business is personal relationships.' Suddenly, it was all pretty clear. The answer was fewer clients. Less money. More attention. Caring for them.”

Candidates want real relationships. The reality is that a CV is out-dated as soon as it is sent so don’t treat candidates like applicants. A great recruiter will have an ongoing relationship for a number of years across a finite group of specialist candidates.

The opportunity for independent recruiters

This is why I feel the playing field has been levelled:

  • Semantic clustering and algorithms do not work for specialist or sensitive hires.
  • Large recruitment agencies will never be agile enough to offer a truly specialist service. After 7 years managing recruitment teams within a FTSE listed recruitment agency, I can assure you the high monthly cost of running those teams commits firms to high-volume low-cost transactional recruitment. Without volume the model is not profitable and it makes it difficult to retain talented recruiters. Turnover of staff further dilutes the real value of an agency. That value is the relationships a recruiter has with his or her candidates.
  • By their very nature, direct recruiters will be manacled to one organisation. For all the talk of “strategic talent pooling” the reality is that even the best in-house teams will simply manage applicants. These in-house functions have too many pressures to assist candidates’ in the best way to structure a job search or offer advice on tailoring a CV. An agency has the added advantage of meeting a cross section of the market and can pick up trends and analyse demand faster than an internal recruitment team.
  • LinkedIn is a brilliant tool but unlike recruiters, most of our candidates don’t devote as much time to updating their profiles! As great as the network is, it is even better when I source an outstanding candidate that is not in the public domain. That is an example of a unique pool of talent.

At BartleyHeath, we are committed to ongoing relationships with a unique pool of Asset Management technology specialists. We partner with a candidate to access the market and find that person a job. That is very different proposition to simply managing applicants and I feel this will insulate us against the disruptive trends affecting the recruitment industry.

I am always interested to hearing your thoughts so please contact me on one of the many channels or simply call me on 07852595777 or 020 3137 3075.


Q1 2014 Buy-Side Technology Hiring Trends

It has been a busy few weeks for BartleyHeath! We officially started trading in mid-April so it has been a constant balance of candidate generation, meetings and a lot of business admin!

The recruitment market within Asset Management remains challenging however the signs of a sustained improvement are definitely present. In the last three years when recruitment volumes in the London Financial Services industry were at an ebb, we witnessed many false dawns but now we are seeing consistent hiring trends.

This consistency seems to be supported by increased confidence in the candidate market. At the beginning of 2014, an immediate increase in enquiries from candidates in employment considering initiating their job search was far more noticeable than anything I have experienced in the past five years.

These enquiries have formalised into hiring as Buy-Side technology and project candidates feel increasingly confident in taking the "leap of faith" and leaving jobs that are not fulfilling their career potential.

The key areas of demand are:

  1. Exposure to working in a regulated environment, an understanding of data, whether that be bespoke or Markit EDM.
  2. Lead or Senior Business Analysts with an ability to understand Buy-Side processes and key domains
  3. Charles River OMS is once again going through a period of intense hiring as Asset Management arms of Investment Banks look to backfill a flow of talent leaving to join Long Only Funds and larger Hedge Fund clients.
  4. An increase in perm hiring as clients looking to reduce contractor headcount

The increasing candidate shortage across the wider Buy-Side Technology market means that hiring managers must partner with recruiters that have access to candidates that aren't on LinkedIn and don't have their CVs on job boards. These candidates are inquisitive but selective with the agencies they use so they need to be presented with the right opportunity. We meet candidates daily who choose to use small agencies that understand their requirements rather than some of our larger competitors.

Now candidates feel more confident about pursuing external opportunities now is a good time for clients to hire however you may need to think of a solution to hiring challenges.

  • Rather than looking for CADIS Markit EDM experience can you hire an excellent SQL Server developer?
  • Rather than Charles River OMS experience can you look to hire a candidate with thinkFolio experience?

I am always interested to hear your thoughts on what is happening in the Buy-Side market and look forward to working with you.