Operations

Of all the functional areas within the FS sector, Operations and Infrastructure has been transformed in terms of people, performance, risk and organisational change. The internal workings of the banking sector have been brought from the dim lights of the back office right into the forefront, being the custodians of the industry’s conscience, regulatory landscape and new value based culture.

More and more regulation has come through which has seen the workload around infrastructure sky rocket. However, this has meant an active year in terms of hiring across all areas of the back office. Justin Gault, Partner, Hammond Partners, explains: “The work we’ve done in the last 12 months has been extremely varied. We have hired across a range of infrastructure functions including; Finance, Compliance, Operational Risk, Fund Operations and Operations as a whole. Firms have also been hiring for different reasons; some hire for growth, others as part of a wider restructuring and some just need replacement hires.”

An example would be the role of Chief Risk Officer, which has been a highly sought-after position in Europe but, with the continuing implementation of regulation, new skills are required. They must now have the ability to communicate new policies with their senior leadership team and how they are meeting new guidelines with regulators. This has made interpersonal skills essential, causing an influx of senior executives, with more traditionally forward-facing experience, to get hired. Mark Mullington for example was appointed as CRO of Sainsbury’s bank in August last year having previously held the role of CFO for ING Direct Australia.

The challenges also saw existing CRO’s handed more responsibility. HSBC’s Marc Moses was appointed to the bank’s Board at the start of 2014, alongside the Chairman, Chief Executive and Finance Director, and saw his reward increased to match, the increased responsibility could see him earn £6million this year. Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver revealed that prior to the financial crisis, the bank’s CRO would have failed to make it into the top 50 earners.

Gault expects the upward swing to continue as many businesses have now finished with restructuring initiatives. “A lot of the cost-cutting has now been done. Across both asset servicing and asset management the majority of the outsourcing and off-shoring projects are nearing completion. They are now in a situation where they are primed for growth which should see a more positive year.” This is good news for many following numerous cut roles since 2010. Due to a number of large banks, such as RBS, shedding staff over the last four years there has been more talent available though some candidates are harder to find. Without attachment to a company, senior professionals that found themselves out of work will sometimes stay on the market longer than previously waiting for the right opportunity. With increasing hiring activity, that opportunity could be just around the corner.