Competition among recruiters in the financial sector has always been fierce, and that’s no less true in 2018. Although the Great Recession is receding further away in the rearview mirror and things may soon be looking up in terms of regulations easing, search firms still have their work cut out for them in terms of winning, and keeping, clients.
New York-based search and advisory firm Atlantic Group has been at the forefront of finding top finance executive leaders for years. The recruiting firm, which has offices in Philadelphia, Boston and Stamford, conducts searches regionally, nationally and globally across a diverse range of verticals. Originally focused on finance, accounting, operations, investor relations and other infrastructure roles, the organization’s capabilities over the last decade have come to include information technology, corporate services and administrative support, healthcare, construction & mechanical services and a full-service staffing practice which provides coverage to its practice areas.
The need for top-flight financial executives is growing, said the search firm, and along with it their business. To win the war for the best financial executives, the firm said, companies must show prospects what makes their organization an attractive and fulfilling place to work. While culture is of critical importance, employers must also keep an open mind to the possibilities that each individual candidate offers their business, and once hired, to keep them on board by compensating them fairly.
New York City, of course, is headquarters of the U.S. finance sector. Many large financial companies are based here, and the city is also home to a burgeoning number of financial start-up companies. Lower Manhattan has the New York Stock Exchange, on Wall Street, and NASDAQ, at 165 Broadway, representing the world’s largest and second largest stock exchanges, when measured both by overall average daily trading volume and by total market capitalization of their listed companies.
Jason Fardella, a partner in the New York office of Atlantic Group, joined the firm in 2007 and leads all accounting, finance and operations recruiting efforts within the scope of financial services, especially the alternative investment space. He is in charge of internal training of new and existing employees within the accounting & finance division in New York. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Fardella was an associate with Milberg Factors. Before that, he was a pitcher in the Colorado Rockies organization after graduating from St. Francis College in Brooklyn, with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
Mr. Fardella recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss recruiting senior leaders for the finance sector and how Wall Street’s performance effects finding talent in this sector.
Jason, how does the performance of the stock market affect your search work within the financial services sector?
When it comes to recruiting there are a couple of factors that tie the markets directly to our efforts, but none more prevalent than time. If the markets are up or down and extremely volatile, then that tends to monopolize the decision makers’ time within a trading company. Which in turn, often pushes recruiting efforts to the backburner. That said, favorable trading volatility leads to action for hedge funds and that leads to hiring and we have seen a spike with respect to this kind of volatility and that has been exciting for recruiting.
How has the stock market affected some of your hedge fund, family office and other investment management clients?
We have seen the ups and downs of different strategies (long/short equity up and credit down, as well as the reverse of that). Bottom line, active investors such as hedge funds and large family offices that have the sticky capital to move large positions have been very busy executing trades. Good recruiters are essential to hedge funds and active family offices. Overall, some people lose money, others make money. That is the best market for recruiters – when the supply and demand is balanced.
Can you share some searches that you’re leading in these areas?
We have multiple senior-level COO/CFO searches for complex and sophisticated family offices that are hiring in the function for the first time. In these cases, the patriarch or matriarch recognizes the value and necessity of a top-notch leader as things have evolved. Hedge fund hiring has picked up substantially in the mid-level ranks to support the increase in activity.
Can you provide an overview of the current supply and demand curve for top-flight finance executives?
As I stated earlier, the best time for recruiters is when the supply meets the demand. In a time when the Dow Jones is eclipsing 25,000, senior executives are being paid well and thus there is less of a tendency to move around; less attrition equals fewer openings. The lower- to middle-level roles are where the main action is right now. The senior positions we are seeing are more with family offices that have converted from funds or new start-up firms.
“Good recruiters are essential to hedge funds and active family offices. Overall, some people lose money, others make money. That is the best market for recruiters – when the supply and demand is balanced.”
What is your outlook moving forward?
For the past couple of years through today, the market has been fundamentally strong and I don’t think there is any reason for that to subside anytime soon. I think while there is an opportunity to capitalize on where investors are willing to put up money, we are going to continue to see a plethora of openings to continue to be generated from that. Obviously there can be global factors, especially politically, that can change everything in an instant, but in the near future, I can only see continued recruiting success.