February 19, 2021 | 5 min read
Financial Services Hiring in 2021: Q1 Trends To Look Out For


Last year was an unprecedented time for many industries, and financial services was no exception. With the typical workplace moving from the office to a remote environment, firms had two options—sink or swim.

In 2020, much of the hedge fund, sell-side, and investment management industry had record breaking years. As of Q1 this year, we are seeing firms put these gains to work as they continue to hire and scale at a more rapid pace. That being said, talent is on the move. “Volatile world events create new opportunities for investment professionals to separate themselves and excel,” says Adam Harwood, Vice President of The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division.

If you’re thinking about looking for a financial services role, here are trends were seeing in Q1:

Financial Services Hiring is up

Relative to last year, we are seeing a plethora of virtual financial services hiring across all asset classes and strategies from private equity to global macro and self-side institutions. We expect this trend to continue throughout the remainder of the year. Specific areas to keep an eye out for include:

  • Investment Banks and Hedge Funds: “Many Investment Banks and Hedge Funds had extremely profitable years in 2020 and thus have an additional business case for hiring,” says Adam. Rapid-pace hiring is expected in these areas at least throughout the first and second quarter of 2021 to make up for lost time in the previous year.
  • Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs) and Private Credit: “Additionally, we are seeing an increase in hiring activity around CLOs and Private Credit,” says Paul Herman, Vice President of The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division. Given the amount of debt and new issuance taking place, there has been an enhanced amount of activity in the credit space.

The hiring process is moving quickly

One advantage to financial services hiring during the pandemic has been the virtual interview. Often times, one has to take immense risk to be out of the office for multiple hours at a time. In this setting, candidates have much more control over when and where they need to be, and do not have to rush to another location to interview. “It’s a great time to passively explore the market,” advises Paul. “Finance professionals are taking advantage of the convenience of interviewing from their own homes—resulting in a lot more hiring activity.”

A return to the office is on the horizon

Contingent upon efficient vaccine rollout, the end goal for many firms is to eventually return to the office. Based on current trends, this looks very possible by the end of Q3. Until then, virtual hiring and onboarding is expected to continue. “I haven’t facilitated an in-person interview in about a year at this point, and this has begun to feel like normal for us,” says Adam. “However, firms are adapting. They have found success with a virtual hiring and onboarding process, giving them much more flexibility to hire new talent as we move further into the year.”

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