Throughout 2018, hiring remained high across all levels within the fund services & asset management sectors.
This year, we saw a number of highly notable companies within the areas choose Ireland as their E.U. hub following the fallout from Brexit. JPMorgan, Legal & General Investment Management, Barclays, and Standard Life Aberdeen are among the companies that have picked Ireland as a post-Brexit base against stiff competition from rival areas such as Luxembourg, Frankfurt and Paris.
Although the volume of companies who have chosen to set up in Ireland hasn’t been quite as high as anticipated, the number of investment firms who have applied for licences for Ireland is continuously increasing as the March deadline approaches.
Despite this, Ireland’s funds industry shows no sign of slowing down, with total AUM having reached €2.4 trillion by the end of 2017. That’s 16 per cent growth year on year, which represents a new high for the country, as fund managers continue to set up UCITS and QIAIFs.
A key observation to note across 2018 is the rise in salaries. Ireland’s appeal as a post-Brexit base for global funds and investment firms has seen a spike in wages for some roles, with a number of positions offering 15 per cent more than just over a year ago.
The buoyant economy and attractive market outlook seem to have encouraged ex-pat Irish workers to move back home, with many making the move at a senior level over the past few months. In such a tight skills market, employers will need to concentrate on reskilling these workers, which involves putting robust training and strategic workforce plans in place.
Increasing Mergers and Acquisitions is a trend that continued into 2018. Apex Fund Services announced the acquisition of Deutsche Bank’s Alternative Fund Services Business late last year. Many of the operational professionals made the move across to Apex between Q1 and Q2 of this year. In January of this year, Apex acquired M.M.Warburg & Co’s Asset Management and Servicing Business in Luxembourg to increase their AUM. In June of this year, Apexcontinued their acquisition spree with the purchase of Ipes, which gave them a further foothold in the Private Equity market, and a growing presence in Cork. We have seen a number of companies deciding to setup outside of Dublin’s Financial Services hub, with a noticeable rise in firms setting up and growing in areas such as Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Kildare.
We have also seen a rise in activity that has filtered into management companies, fund platforms, fund governance, and fund consultancy firms. More and more asset managers are electing to use either a management company or a fund platform when setting up new funds. Over the past 2–3 years, this has become a new, evolving trend in Ireland.We have also seen private equity and real estate funds becoming an increasingly popular choice among investors as Ireland has become an EU hub.
Salaries & Benefits
Salary is still a top concern for many candidates, with counter offers now prevalent and compensation packages being pushed up by high demand. Career progression is also a top priority and employers who offer flexible working hours have proved popular with high-calibre professionals. Flexible working hours has proved to be the most important factor with work/life balance being of the utmost importance to candidates.
Skills in Demand
There has been an increase in front-office, fund operations and compliance staff, who are now particularly sought after. Upwards pressure on wages is likely to continue next year with the Central Bank expected to approve the expansion plans of more firms in the coming months.
It is likely that there will be slight increases in salaries for fund services professionals, as there is a continued need for skilled staff in the stand operational areas of fund accounting, transfer agency, custody, trustee, as well as change professionals with experience as project managers and business analysts.
There has also been an increase in quantitative roles, with more and more opportunities available within funds and asset management for candidates coming from an analytical background.
2019 is shaping up to be a busy year with a predicated increase in salaries and competition for skilled staff. As ever, the broader international market will dictate what happens in Ireland, but the lack of living accommodation in the main hub of Dublin is still a cause for concern as it has the potential to create an exodus of some roles to other countries.
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