Eight of the hottest careers in Australian financial services right now

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on 3 May, 2014

Simon Mortlock

If you’re looking for a finance job in Australia or looking to move Down Under to find one, beware that some functions are decidedly hotter than others.

Front-office investment bankers are still not, unfortunately, in particularly high demand, according to Australian headhunters.

But regulatory change and infrastructure investment, among other factors, are helping to ensure that candidates in other certain sectors remain sought after. Here’s our pick of eight of the hottest jobs in Australian financial services right now.

1) OTC clearing

If you have over-the-counter clearing (OTC) experience and exposure to international regulatory reporting, you are in high demand in Australia, says Michael Cunningham, a partner at search firm Anton Murray Consulting in Sydney. Regulatory change – for example Dodd Frank and EMIR reporting of derivative transactions – is affecting counterparty reconciliation processes. “Candidates are sought after by banks and trading firms who are getting processes ready and automated to ensure compliance,” says Cunningham. “Australians coming back from the UK or British people moving here are getting hired fairly quickly by both Aussie and global banks as the UK has been more heavily involved in these regulatory changes compared with Australia.”

2) Operational risk

An increase in consumer confidence and business lending is driving recruitment for op-risk jobs, says Adrian Oldham, regional director of recruiters Michael Page. Regulatory requirements, in particular phase 2 of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act, are also causing corporate banks, investment banks and consultants to hire, says Dominic Bareham, manager, finance, at recruiters Morgan McKinley in Sydney. “There’s competition in the job market with a number of firms hiring at the same time, so employers are sourcing from offshore, being flexible on salaries for the right person, and retaining staff by offering secondments onto projects,” adds Bareham.

3) Project finance

While Australia’s large natural resources sector continues to fuel the project-finance market, so too do public-private partnership (PPP) deals to build toll roads, ports, hospitals and other infrastructure. The “Big Four” domestic banks (ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac) are hiring project-finance professionals with advisory skills in order to “get these deals across the line”, says Allira Salem, national account manager at recruiters Kelly Services in Sydney. “Candidates actively looking for work within this field are scarce, so employers are willing to pay higher base salaries to attract and retain talent.”

4) Analysts at superannuation firms

The infrastructure boom is also creating jobs within the superannuation (retirement-savings) sector. A compulsory levy on employee salaries makes super funds important sources of investment in Australia. “Super funds have increased their hiring for project-finance analysts,” says Warwick Peel, managing director of Search360 in Melbourne. “For some senior hires, we are expanding our searches to similarly-aligned PPP markets in the UK and Europe.”

5) Relationship managers

Relationship managers are sought after in corporate banking in Australia, as they are in Singapore. “The demand is for professionals who have written credit deals between A$3m and A$10m, with the ability to push value up the chain,” says Andrew Bath, manager, banking and financial services, at recruitment firm Robert Walters in Melbourne. “Most of these roles sit in generalist portfolios, but growing specialist sectors such as the Asian market and property market have also been a focus. There has been a particular focus on recruiting women, due to diversity targets that the banks are working towards.”

6) Financial planning

Financial planners were in high demand in 2013 as a new law, The Future of Finance Advice, raised consumer-service standards in the sector. The job market is equally strong this year, with both the Big Four banks and independent advisors looking to hire, says Toni Maselli, associate director, banking and finance, at recruitment agency Randstad in Melbourne. Trouble is, very few fin planners actually want to change jobs. “The market appears to be at full employment, with minimal respondents to job advertisements. Employers should act swiftly to secure the best talent.”

7) Risk assurance

There is strong ongoing demand in risk assurance in both the banking and wealth-management sectors, particularly at senior-analyst to senior-manager level for candidates with expertise in identifying risk and controls, according to Maselli. These roles are a good fit for candidates within the financial-services practice of the Big Four consultancy firms. “They can often expect a pay increase of between 10% and 15%, with a superior bonus, if they move into banking,” she adds.

8) Start-up companies

As we noted earlier this week, an increasing number of investment bankers in Asia are quitting the sector for in-house corporate M&A roles. In Australia, by contrast, the trend for departing bankers is to found their own small businesses. “Bankers are leaving employment to start their own companies in droves and there are a raft of incubators and angel investors seeking investment to take these start-ups to the next level,” says Victoria Biggs, a partner at headhunters Platinum Pacific Partners in Sydney. “Many of the bankers I speak to would rather do this than join a buy-side funds themselves.”

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