Financial Services Market Update Q1, 2020

January 10

2019 continued to be a competitive year in Investments/Front Office from an employers’ perspective. The ability to attract the right candidate depended on the employers’ ability to move their hiring processes with pace, as investment candidates and newly qualifieds usually had several offers to consider.

The market was very active, with strong demand for Investment Analyst with 2–5 years’ experience and CFA qualification. We saw the demand increase due to the arrival of Hermes Investment Managers, Morgan Stanley, L&G investment Management, First Investments, and Legg Mason and Architas, to name a few, on the Dublin market. Traditionally, the Investment Management candidate pool has been predominately UK-based.

Also noted this year were the numbers of recently qualified Accountants with up to 5 years’ PQE. This demand was not limited to any one area or sector, with firms ranging from boutique investment houses through to the large domestic and international institutions competing for talent.

General market observations

Candidates are prepared to negotiate to get the salary and package they demand. The market for senior appointments was less frenzied, possible due to Brexit paralysis, with employers usually having a greater choice of candidates and more time to conduct their hiring processes. There was some upward pressure on salaries, however, as candidates are looking to maximise their value following a period where packages have remained reasonably static.


Strong competition for talent did impact 2019 salary levels, with companies having to go beyond their initial budgets or salary ranges to get their preferred candidates in quite a few cases. Candidates are aware of their worth and the demand for their skillset combined with their ability to attract multiple offers.

Area shortages

Quants Researchers/Quant Developers have always been in demand, but the structure of the demand has changed over the past 5 years. The world is becoming more technically challenging, and a lot of firms now need Computer Scientists who can code algorithms. Here at Lincoln, we see banks and insurance companies rushing to revamp and build their technological capabilities. The problem facing investment houses in Ireland is that the Financial industry is less attractive than Facebook /Google /Airbnb/Tech companies or the hottest upstarts, especially in recent years.

Many investment houses are, as a result, establishing closer ties with Irish universities so they can tap directly into the pipeline of talent, or setting up contests such as Trading Challenges or Data Opens.


In 2019, the Insurance industry has remained a candidate-tight space. Even in a “full employment” economy, there are still large companies with a healthy-enough attrition rate that will appear to be constantly hiring.

There has been an almost consistent demand for experienced and qualified Insurance professionals across Claims, Underwriting and Broking/Client Advisory. Open vacancies have been arising out of natural attrition or steady growth as opposed to any large-scale movements in the industry. Ireland has (to date) benefited from Brexit uncertainty, with new players having entered the Irish market over the past 2 years; these entities continued to establish themselves and grow this year.

Roles in particular demand

  • Commercial Lines Brokers
  • Claims Handlers/Loss Adjusters – Personal Injury or Casualty
  • Portfolio Underwriters
  • Reinsurance Accounting Technicians
  • Pensions Consultants (or Senior Administrators)

Professionalisation has continually been a hot topic, with more and more employers requesting full qualifications for roles that may not traditionally have required them. The CIP (Certified Insurance Practitioner) qualification is an essential requirement as per the Minimum Competency Code (MCC) for anyone working in a client-facing or advisory position in General/Non-Life Insurance. Employers’ expectations of employees in non-MCC positions to become CIP-qualified has stemmed more from a quality perspective – they want their staff to be best-in-class.

In addition to this, increasing attention has been paid to the need for diversity and inclusion in Insurance, following a string of scandals surrounding Lloyd’s of London. While some larger companies have been taking steps to ensure gender balance and equal access to opportunities, the jury is still out on whether the change is happening quickly enough.

The year ahead/Future predictions

We see the market in 2020 continuing in the same vein, with the market being driven by candidates, and the competition between organisations being the main influencing factor for talent acquisition going forward.

Improving on the speed of the interview process is now essential. Due to the high level of competition for top-quality candidates, the faster the interview process is, the higher the chances are of securing the desired candidate. This should also be coupled with firms selling the benefits in joining their organisation to the candidates throughout the interview process, making the candidates’ experience as positive as possible.

Here at Lincoln, we would advise clients to have two candidates to whom they are prepared to make an offer: first choice and contingency. This would, in turn, combat the chance of the preferred candidate accepting a counter-offer or a different offer, and avoid a fresh search to source new candidates.

Download the 2020 Salary & Employment Insights Survey

View the latest recruiting challenges for employers across Ireland and see the latest market rate salaries across the Financial Services sector.

About the Author

Sean Sweeney

Sean Sweeney

Head of Investments 1 661 0444

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