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Alice Corp & László Ujpál of Selby Jennings discusses a new hiring situation in Switzerland

Date: 11 June 2015

The beginning of 2015 has been mixed when looking back on hiring trends within Buyside Sales & Marketing. Switzerland experienced one of the biggest economic shocks in their most recent history, and Germany saw one of the best starts to the year for their Funds market. The combination of both has led to a sharp decline in Swiss firms bringing on new staff and Germany jumping on this favourable climate to hire in new areas. Outside of Investment Management, Financial Service Providers have continued to hire Sales professionals at a rapid pace, with most Global Data Providers hiring at some stage in Europe, now there is a huge demand from Asset Managers wanting to implement cost saving software initiatives.

2015 got off to a slow start for Asset Management recruitment in Switzerland, with firms even experiencing a decrease in the number of Sales, Marketing and Client Services vacancies, compared with this time last year.

January 15th, when the Swiss National Bank announced suddenly that it would no longer hold the Swiss franc at a fixed exchange rate with the euro, there was panic across Europe and many Swiss firms decided they would be better holding off on new hires until the markets had settled and the currency stabilised again. The move wiped 9% off the value of the Swiss stock market, making its biggest one-day fall in over twenty-five years, leading to mass uncertainty, and therefore roles being moved to other locations, postponed or cancelled. Due to this loss of market faith, Switzerland experienced an even more saturated candidate market, with the same high number of active candidates now competing for even fewer jobs throughout January and February.

It has really only been since March that firms are starting to re-advertise roles and hiring across Switzerland is beginning to slowly increase. The amount of Sales, Marketing and Client Services vacancies have increased by over 50% this month, and having been in discussions with a number of Asset Managers, this is likely to further improve in April, to make up for the deficit in January and February, now bonuses have been paid out and budgets finalised.

As a candidate who is not a Swiss national looking for a new position in Switzerland, one will need to take into consideration that the labour market is in favour of Swiss citizens, due to work restrictions and the need even for EU citizens to obtain a work permit. As such, it can be a lengthy process to secure work. If this obstacle is to be overcome, it is unlikely that a firm will hire you if you do not bring the right language requirements (usually English, French and German), and this is noted at all seniorities and types of positions.

Even though there has been a decline in vacancies in Switzerland, firms are still continuing to bring on a steady stream of Associate Client Services and Marketing Support functions throughout many offices in Europe. Quite a bit of this hiring has come down to bonus season and compensation reviews given, so many people will be receiving internal promotions, meaning the cycle for hiring Associates begins again.

For a candidate with 1 – 3 years’ experience who is hoping to secure a new Buyside opportunity, they will need to highlight long term career goals in either Sales or Portfolio Management, the willingness to learn and to take on further studies, as well as demonstrating strong technical skills, an interest in the investments market and the right language skills.

One must also note that for this level of position, there is consistently a high number of applications, so firms will not be willing to (and do not need to) pay over the odds in order to fill the vacancy; it will come down to enthusiasm and motivation, so advice will be to not go into an interview if you are only looking for a salary improvement, as this will come across as avaricious.

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