2018 has been a busy and eventful year for recruitment into the financial services sector in Ireland. The year has seen further changes to the pillar banks, new entrants to the banking market from both home and abroad and increased scrutiny from the CBI of banking and insurance activity.
The tracker mortgage situation, exposure to non-performing loans and Brexit have all continued to have a regulatory and business impact across the financial services sector. These factors are all having an impact on both job creation and candidate movement, which has made for a generally very buoyant recruitment market.
The main two areas of demand in corporate banking have been asset management and lending. Candidates with experience in the management of both performing and non-performing loans (NPLs) remain in high demand, especially those with real estate knowledge. As the economy continues to grow, both banks and alternative loan providers are loosening the purse strings, and whilst some stricter rules are applied to the pillar banks in terms of lending, non-banks and peer-to-peer lenders are becoming much more visible. There is yet to be a direct correlation between the amount of increased lending and a large increase in the number of jobs in that space, but we would expect to see more growth here during 2019.
There is positivity across both the retail banking and wealth management sectors, although these industries are not without their own challenges in terms of the jobs market. The increased consolidation and further tightening of regulation has had an impact on recruitment. As a number of businesses in these industries become smaller and much more customer and technology focused, the roles are beginning to change. There is more of a focus on product development and innovation; whether that be in banking or wealth management. The customer of today tends to be more tech-savvy and candidates who can demonstrate a traditional knowledge of the industry, combined with an understanding of how tech is changing that market, will be successful. Customer engagement and relationship building/development remain key.
The continued uncertainty around Brexit is perhaps most keenly felt within investment banking and capital markets. What the relationship between Britain and the rest of the EU will be actually like remains a large shadow that looms over the industry, and whilst some high-profile banks have made the decision to move a large number of front office positions to Dublin and set up European HQs, a whole host of other global asset managers and investment banks are still waiting to see what happens. Dublin remains a very attractive location to set up a European HQ outside of the UK, but there are still a number of questions that need to be answered. The provision of residential and commercial property continues to be a weakness in the market, as does the perceived lack of a ready-made talent pool. Fortunately, there are a huge number of ex-pats who are looking to move back to Ireland after a number of years abroad and this gives the country a unique advantage over its rivals. Despite some challenges, however, the investment banking and capital markets sectors are going to provide some unique and exciting opportunities in 2019 and beyond.
Finally, the insurance market has continued to produce a steady number of new roles, especially in claims. Claims professionals who have both employer and personal liability experience will remain in high demand and short supply. With the continuing increase in premiums and the hugely inflated payouts in the Irish market becoming an even bigger source of customer frustration, as compared to the rest of Europe, we would expect to see reform in the industry. This could well lead to some exciting new project and transformation roles. In addition to claims professionals, roles for underwriters, actuaries and risk/compliance professionals have been in demand, perhaps in response to the increased regulation and premium increases. Overall, as in investment banking, the growth in the market that Brexit promised hasn’t really materialised; however, as we move towards Britain’s exit from the EU, we would expect that to change.
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