Demand for financial professionals increasing

Financial head hunters are reporting the first signs of hiring among local banks and private equity firms.

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Head hunters are reporting the first signs of hiring among banks and private equity firms in the GCC since the economic crisis hit the Gulf last autumn, although financial professionals are reportedly having to accept salaries up to 30 per cent lower than they may have commanded six months ago. The Dubai-based recruitment firm IQ Selection, part of the global Premier Group, says inquiries from potential employers have increased by about 60 per cent in the past month. "We're seeing hiring happening mainly in the front office for private equity and investment banking capital markets," said Jonathan Gould, a financial services consultant at the recruitment firm. "Before, the hiring market was a shut shop, with redundancies and rate cuts. Now, firms are coming to us with live vacancies and wanting us to supply them with talent." Arqaam Capital, an investment bank in Dubai, has seen a flood of interest from candidates looking to come to the region from abroad, mainly London and New York. "Candidates are more realistic now in terms of rationale for making a move and, of course, salary expectations," said Marc Hoodless, the bank's managing director of human resources. Mr Hoodless said it was now common for people to take positions where compensation was up to 30 per cent less, and in some cases even lower, than it was for the same position six months ago. Jack Montgomery, a senior consultant at Stanton Chase International, one of the largest global executive search firms, with operations in 41 countries, said the private equity sector was seeing the most demand for new recruits within the financial services world. "[Private equity firms] are the ones with the cash; the portfolios they are targeting are very reasonably priced," he said. "They can afford to be more aggressive in hiring talent in order to get the deals they want to get." Recruitment analysts say the Gulf's private equity sector, which experienced a boom over the past two years, did not witness the same levels of redundancies as investment banking and other areas of financial services over the past six months. Richard Ingram, the managing director of Ingram and Partners, a recruitment consultancy that specialises in executive positions in financial services, said: "We haven't seen the same pressure of [downsizing] in private equity. There is an optimistic sentiment about the role of private equity in the marketplace. "We have been meeting our targets flat out, which had not been the case for executive search firms last year. The trend is reflected in all GCC markets and we are going further afield to as far as Iraq, where relative stability is opening up so many jobs in the financial sector. "Senior management, including CFOs and CEOs, are still in short supply in the market."