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MiFID, Brexit and technology – the evolution of the European investment management market

Written by Sanjoy Sanyal

Having worked in the investment management space for over 18 years now, I’ve seen some significant changes from an employment market perspective. As we head in to 2019, there is an air of uncertainty and questions are being raised and in light of this, wanted to talk about some of the topic of discussions with employers and candidates that we’ve had at Aquis Search. 

The types of roles I focus on involve working closely with sovereign wealth funds, traditional long only managers, as well as alternative managers (hedge funds, private equity, venture capital), focused on distribution specialists (sales, IR and client service) and investment specialists (fund managers, analysts and traders). The world has certainly changed with an increasing reliance on technology that we’ve seen in the industry. This has had a knock-on effect on the requirements for employers and their expectations of what their people are able to deliver on. 

The need to adapt with technology and be able to work with technological advances (such as machine learning and artificial intelligence) has resulted in businesses looking to demonstrate to customers their operational efficiencies and greater transparency. Businesses with the best adaptation of technology are using it as a USP and as a result, companies that have people who can adapt to these latest technologies are also able to demonstrate more value. It is all well trying to convince clients that you have the best technology, but if you don’t have the talent to effectively implement and manage it, then you aren’t going to succeed.  

What we’ve seen in recent years is that many of the larger businesses in the space are embracing technology and using that as a USP to demonstrate how they can do more for clients at a reduced cost, this is especially true for players with passive strategies. Smaller employers focus more on track record, the importance of key individuals and a differentiated strategy. There is still demand for people who aren’t just capable of using a machine to track the markets, but able to beat the market, which is why I still see lots of demand for people who have built a reputation for success.  

A second change in the industry is the impact of regulation.  MIFID II, for instance, was previously seen as a very UK centric issue but with so many large organisations operating on a global scale, it means that its impact is also permeating globally too. There are also repercussions for smaller organisations with regard to costs and coverage by the sell side.

Brexit is a topic that I’m sure many people are already becoming frustrated with, but in the investment management industry it is still an ongoing concern Funds registered in the UK may now also need to be registered in Europe too (passporting rights), which inevitably has an impact on the jobs market because employers are now needing to make considerations as to whether they will need ‘boots on the ground’ in both the UK and Europe.  

What it does mean is that if you are somebody who is willing to travel and relocate, then you become a very valuable commodity for an employer, because if you are willing to relocate then you can help a prospective employer as well as potentially increase your career prospects and compensation 

From what I’ve seen, the lack of clarity in Brexit and some of the perceived stalling from politicians has affected the investment communitybut what I’ve also noticed is that organisations are not waiting for the politicians. Most organisations are making their moves to bring people in now, which also means that if you are looking at moving overseas there are opportunities right now to take advantage of. 

The UK will continue to be a focus and will continue to be a strong market for investment management, but across Europe we are seeing a greater level of demand and we are being asked to drive that in employer hiring intentions. 

If you are somebody who is considering your options you should get in touch and I can give you insight on a country-by-country basis on where the current demand is. 

If you would like to speak to Sanjoy or his team then get in touch with the UK office on +44 203 375 8021 or connect with Sanjoy via LinkedIn for a confidential discussion over your requirements.