Unlocking Real Value Blog

Poll: Sales is Top Hiring Priority for 2010

Published on Jan 27, 2010 – FUNDfire – An Information Service of Money-Media, a Financial Times Company
By Gregory Shulas

A new wealth firm with offices in Florida and Ohio launched last month catering to high-net worth clients with investment and family office services, as well as an affiliated law practice. The three partners – former private bankers and directors with National City Bank and its Sterling multi-family office division – opened shop on Dec. 18 aiming to serve clients with more than $5 million.

Asset management firms are making sales professionals their top recruitment priority this year amid growing signs that the once-frozen job market is thawing.

That’s according to a FundFire reader poll where roughly 37% of respondents said money managers want to add to their sales and marketing workforces in 2010, making that the most popular job category in the survey.

That vote total included 25% who said institutional sales and marketing positions are the top hiring focus at their firm, and 12% who indicated that bringing on retail wholesalers is the most important recruitment goal.

Investment professionals, including portfolio managers and analysts, received the second highest number of votes, with 16 overall. Technology and operations garnered 11%, while product development and compliance received 6% each.

About 25% of respondents said their firm is either not hiring or plans further layoffs. In spite of that, the survey offers some evidence that the long dormant job market is beginning to wake up.

A FundFire poll early last year found 64% of respondents saying their money management firms were not increasing staffing levels in any areas for the upcoming year. A nearly identical percentage, about 63%, maintained that view in an August FundFire survey on whether companies were expanding payroll again or were keeping the status quo.

Goldman Sachs, General Electric Asset Management and T. Rowe Price are just some of the managers that in recent months have revealed plans to increase staffing in the near term. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein said in November that expanding institutional and private wealth sales coverage is a priority. GE Asset Management announced this month that it will hire its first U.K.-based consultant relations specialist as part of a broader institutional consultant channel push.

FundFire has also reported that recruiters are actively recruiting for fixed income investment professionals. Of specific interest are investments specialists from the Treasury, high-grade, mortgage and distressed credit spaces.

Jacob Navon, partner at recruitment firm Westwood Partners, has seen encouraging signs of life in the industry’s job market, with sales and investments standing out as strong points.

“We are seeing a more balanced mix between demand for investment professionals and demand for sales, marketing and client service personnel across the major distribution channels,” he says. “The major point, however, is that there is a strong and widespread race for talent in these two segments of the business.”

Andy Klausner, founder of strategic consultancy AK Advisory Partners, says firms are focusing on sales professionals before they beef up their investment staffs.

“By adding sales professionals who are presumably paid to a large degree on commission,they can hedge their bets while still trying to grow their business. In addition, the emphasis on institutional versus retail reflects the reality that the institutional marketplace is less affected by current economic conditions than retail,” Klausner says.

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 101 FundFire subscribers had participated in the poll. Participants were self-selected and were only able to vote once. FundFire’s primary audience consists of asset managers, institutional investors, consultants, financial advisors and service providers.

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