Who is hiring now and why

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Year of Release: 
2010

By Ally Ho, Senior Consultant

The Middle East has certainly had its ups and down over the last 18 months and although there are more positive signs we are still not out of the woods. When the initial crisis hit there were hundreds of employees from all areas of financial services sector who found themselves out of a job and hunting for further career opportunities. Once the initial dust cleared and things began to stabilize a little there were clear trends developing in terms of style of hiring.

As a result of increased demand on financial transparency the back office saw an increasing requirement for CFO’s. However the trend nowadays is not one of a traditional CFO who can manage large balance sheets, profit forecast and manage controls and budgets. Increasingly there has been demand for CFO’s who are able to demonstrate international work experience (because of the numerous international accounting platforms now required), a track record in corporate strategy and success in rolling this out as well as huge demand for buy side CFO’s with experience in capital raising.

Decision making has certainly slowed in the region with companies thinking more carefully before signing an offer and searching for those candidates who have true expat experience i.e. working within growth economies as well as mature markets. BRIC and frontier markets experience has also come to the fore when it comes to preference on experience.

There is a lot of replacement hiring currently occurring as well as a huge push for key revenue generators in the region. Private wealth management, asset management and private equity have been the busiest in hiring with a lot of firms expanding their teams based in the UAE as well as the key markets of KSA and Qatar and to a lesser extend Kuwait and Bahrain. There has been a huge emphasis for firms to place people ‘on the ground’ in the target markets in order to service the many family offices and HNWI’s there so GCC hiring outside of the UAE has really picked up; and with the gradual return of new entrants into the region this will not change in the near future.

With a demand on senior bankers, strong portfolio managers and sales people there is a common misconception that there are still more candidates than roles. The truth of the matter is that the pool of relevant candidates is still as small as it has always been and with a large contingent of bankers deserting the region for Asia or a return to the west this pool has further decreased.

Candidates looking to secure a senior position within a reputable brand should identify initially a suitable brand to transition into and either network within the community or seek out a reputable search firm to assist them in this process. Headhunters completing senior level mandates primarily rely on direct search (for those who are employed) and for those currently looking for a role through a referral based network – so if you are in this position and haven’t been endorsed by ex-work colleagues or people you have previously worked with – this is a highly effective tool in getting noticed.


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