What you're about to read might well be the only advice you'll need to know in its regard. Its author, Neha Jain is one of the fastest rising Finance and Banking recruiters in Australia.  Awarded a co-op scholarship from UNSW, Neha acquired a Bachelor of Commerce degree, double majoring in Accounting and Finance which led her to PwC, where, as an external auditor with several blue-chip giants she gained a deep understanding of Financial Services... and the people and cultures that drive its success. She knows what she's talking about. 

Since 2010, when she shifted focus to the complex human capital needs of her sector, she has become a reputable young leader in professional recruitment. Neha was recently promoted to Associate Partner, Accounting & Finance FutureYou, and we thought it perfect timing to extract some valuable insights from her in regards to her speciality. 

What are the trends in hiring in the Finance Sector for 2019?

In 2019, we will observe the following trends when hiring for the financial services sector:

1. Specialist technical skill sets related to financial reporting, regulatory reporting, accounting treatment and accounting policy will continue to be in demand especially due to the implementation of IFRS 9, 15, 16 and 17, as well as due to upcoming APRA changes. Given Apra is focusing on developing a formal prudential framework for recovery and resolution...

...skills across risk advisory, compliance, governance, conduct and culture will be increasingly in demand.

2. The SME Market is experiencing strong growth and will continue to hire newly created positions across their business.  

Working in a start-up, Fintech or a growing SME requires a particular candidate personality and this environment is ideal for candidates who like variety, wearing multiple hats in the same day, rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty whilst learning about the business from A to Z. Above all, these candidates like to impact change, drive operational efficiencies through automation and finance transformation, influence strategy and partner with senior stakeholders to achieve business outcomes.

3. Commercial skills continue to be in high demand as organisations increasingly move towards data analytics, visualisation of data, business intelligence tools and artificial intelligence. The candidates who'll be in high demand here? Those with strong business partnering skills, an analytical mindset, advanced financial modelling and VBA skills, experience using BI tools and visualisation techniques to confidently present their insights and key messages to senior executives.

4. “Culture fit” is a phrase that will be at the forefront of every hiring decision.

5. The gap between Millennials and Gen-X will become more apparent, especially with the recruitment of senior leadership roles. Employers will face the predicament of choosing between hiring a millennial with 5-10 years’ experience versus a Gen-X candidate with 10-20 years’ experience, for the same salary. In such situations, the “culture fit” of the candidate will dictate the hiring decision.

What changes have you noticed in regards to what employees are offering top talent in Finance? 

Employers have, for the most part, evolved and adapted well to the needs of a modern workforce. Today, top talent wants autonomy, ownership and the ability to put their own stamp on the business; be it through process improvement or finance transformation. 

They want to work for organisations with similar values to themselves: flexibility, family, health. In that order.

Many of my clients have adopted flexibility and they've seen the benefits of this when it comes to employee engagement and productivity. It’s not about allowing a longer lunch break to go to the gym. Rather it’s about giving the employee the autonomy to decide when in their day they will go to the gym, what time to start and finish work based on family commitments and which day to work from home to make that doctors appointment.

In turn, employers get the best out of their employees who are engaged, productive, efficient and committed.

What are we to expect from banking's big four in the coming year and what does that mean for the smaller operators?

The big 4 banks did not have a great end to 2018. With falling share prices, mortgage stress, falling house prices, rising global interest rates, a looming federal election and the fallout from the Royal Commission contributing to decreased profits in the banking sector, 2019 and beyond is going to be all about cost-cutting.

As a result, the big 4 banks are predicted to reduce headcount by a total of 20,000 across 2018-2020.

In stark contrast, start-ups, Fintechs and growing SMEs are adding headcount to accelerate their growth. These businesses will continue to exploit the “trust deficit” the big 4 have created and seize the opportunity to grab consumer mindshare and market share, furthering their growth. The opportunity with start-ups, Fintechs and growing SMEs enables job security and allows for your growth and development with the business, giving rise to the opportunity to part-take in an IPO, merger or acquisition.

How would the advice you give now differ to the advice you may have given five years ago, to professionals looking to advance their careers in FinServices?  

About eight years ago, when the effects of the GFC were still prevalent, it was a candidate-rich market and salary growth was stale, my advice as a professional Finance recruiter would have been; "Work for a large organisation that can withstand the effects of the GFC, rotate around the business to obtain a variety of experiences, don't expect a salary raise (or any flexibility), and expect to clock in 50-60 hour weeks just to retain your job".

The market has evolved. It's a candidate-short market where higher calibre candidates usually have multiple offers to chose from. With the current state of the banking sector and with my understanding of the current trends in Financial Services, today my advice would be to explore opportunities with start-ups, Fintechs and SMEs. 

They're at the forefront of innovation and growth and will likely give you a stronger sense of job security and belonging. 

These businesses offer agile, fast-paced environments that reward high-performance, you'll get to interact with, and influence, senior stakeholders and impact the business strategy. Better yet, you'll avoid the red tape and slower processes of the big traditional environments. 

2019 is the year for professionals working in Banking and Financial Services to get a little uncomfortable and push yourselves professionally to achieve maximum personal growth.

For more sound advice on your career in Financial Services, connect with Neha Jain here

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