If it is on your radar to be moving jobs, whether it be for a similar role within a different company, or a change of career altogether, the chances are you will be working with a recruiter.

There are 2 main channels in which your professional relationship with a recruiter will likely begin. That is to put the feelers out that you are looking for a new role and to ensure you are on their books, and applying or reaching out to them about a specific job they are advertising.

Reaching out to partner with a recruiter directly

When reaching out to a recruiter not relating to a specific role, first and foremost you must ensure they have your CV. It will give them chance to have an overview of your current and previous roles and experience which in turn will give them the tools to best help you.

Whilst you may have an understanding of what market the recruiter is working with based on the jobs they are advertising, make sure you seek confirmation about the type of market and clients they work with, and the kind of roles they take on, to be absolutely certain they are the best agency to help you align with your goals and help with your search. It would be a waste of precious time to converse with an agency that specialises in Operations when you are looking for a Front Office role as example.

It is important to make sure you are as transparent and open as possible with them regarding what you are looking for. Explain the types of roles, companies, whether you are wanting permanent or temporary opportunities, and which direction you are trying to take your career. Being as specific as you can be is the key to help a recruiter decide who are the best companies to reach out to on your behalf.

Whilst it is important to discuss what you are looking for, it is equally important to be open about why you are wanting to leave your existing role (if this is relevant). This will naturally give a clearer picture about what you are NOT looking for in your next role. And of course, make sure you know your notice period with them, and how soon you can start your next assignment.

Make sure to be honest and open with the recruiter about your current remuneration, bonus and benefits. Remember, they are there to help you achieve your financial goals and exaggerating your current salary (as example) won’t necessarily mean a higher offer for your next role, especially as any future employers will see your P60 and will observe if you haven’t been entirely honest!

When it comes to applying for roles, a good recruiter will always seek permission from you before sending a CV so you know what companies are in receipt of your information. Equally, it is important to keep the recruiter updated on your own search, who you have reached out to and roles you have applied for, to make sure there are no duplications.

Before getting knee deep in job hunting, be absolutely certain that a move to a different company is what you are looking for. Candidates often overlook speaking with their current employer to see if there are any changes they could make to their existing role, that would be in line with what they are potentially looking for in their next role and that’s aligned with their future career goals. If your current employer could make these changes (as example) would you consider staying put?

Lastly, ensure they have all your correct contact details and understand how you want them to communicate with you – sometimes the processes can be time critical so communication is key!

Applying for a specifically advertised role

When it comes to applying for specific advertised roles, the first port of call will almost always be ensuring they have your CV, however, it is important to only send your CV for roles that you are suitable for. By applying for roles that you don’t meet the criteria for you could end up being overlooked and missing out on an opportunity that is potentially much more suitable for you. Whilst it is your choice, it is not recommended you apply for the same roles with multiple agencies and well worth noting that in most cases you only get one chance to send your CV to a company – so make sure it is for the right role!

Ask the recruiter to go through with you details about the company, including their culture, policies such as flexible working, what they know about the team, and more specifically the hiring manager and their work style. They might even be able to talk through the candidates they have hired through their services historically. A lot of recruiters offer tenured relationships with their clients, so use this time to really understand how they can best help you through an interview process with the client.

Make sure you have spoken with the recruiter so they understand your strengths and skillset, why you are relevant and suitable for the role and company so they know how to sell you! It is equally as important that they understand what are developmental areas for you within the opportunity – most companies hire people who meet 70-80% of the criteria they are looking for!

It is important that before sending your CV the recruiter shares the relevant job specification and any hints or tips on what they may be looking for so you can tweak or amend your CV accordingly. Once your CV has been sent ensure you have written confirmation from them.

Once you have secured an interview ask your recruiter to share what questions may be asked during the interview process to help you be as prepared as possible. Do not be afraid to ask them for a phone or video call before hand to run through this with you, or even ask for some example interview style questions. Also request a copy of the CV they have sent to the client.

As mentioned previously, make sure you always have realistic financial an benefit expectations that are relevant to your experience and what you are able to offer a company. Do not outprice or undersell yourself! And remember, clients will always see your P60 or P45 if you’re successful so always be honest about remuneration!

If at any point during the process you decide not to proceed and take it any further it is important to explain these reasons to the recruiter so they can understand why for next time they work with you.

Finally, it is always best to be open with recruiters about other roles you are looking at, clients often wish to know what they are competing with to make sure they are giving you the best possible offer and opportunity. It also helps the recruiter gauge genuine interest and helps them help you consider all possible options for the best outcome for you and your career.

We welcome the opportunity to talk to all potential client’s and candidate’s surrounding their needs. On our website you can find dedicated sections on how best to partner with us or other recruiters. You can also see all of our vacancies, some further guidance, intelligence, and advice in our resources section. We are always willing to help with tailoring your CV, preparing for interview or discussing new vacancies.

CassonX are a specialist operations and middle office recruitment firm based in London. We are a boutique specialist agency, privately owned, giving you friendly and bespoke advice and support for all your staffing and recruitment needs. You can always contact one of our friendly, experienced, and talented recruiters directly via the website or on +44(0)2030565545.

As our leader James Manders celebrates 20 years as a specialist recruiter in the Financial Services sector, he was asked to share his thoughts and guidance in a series of interviews with the wonderful team at eFinancial careers, as part of their Talent Conversation series.

It goes without saying that James has seen a lot in the last 20 years, and he is immensely proud to be a trusted partner with many candidates, clients, service providers, and vendors, and loves talking about his market knowledge and experiences throughout his tenure.

Should you wish to review these talent conversations, then please see below links:

Mastering salary negotiations in 2024: https://vimeo.com/917965752

Navigating the impact of hybrid working: https://vimeo.com/917965537

The early careers dilemma; challenges & solutions in today’s job market: https://vimeo.com/917965456

Exploring in-house vs. recruiter hiring teams: https://vimeo.com/917965291



Please do take the time to review our other blogs, market intelligence, advice, and all things recruitment in the Resources section of our website

Last year witnessed a significant surge in hiring across our specialised recruitment market. In 2023, attrition rates slowed, companies were focused on retention of important team members, acknowledging the challenges of attracting talented individuals who can handle the demands of an Operations role within Capital Markets. It was a busy start to the year for Senior level hires, Q1 and Q2 is where the higher volume of roles at Director level (and above) came to market, ‘BAU’ hires have been more active throughout the year. There has been a focus from hiring managers on finding product specialists, largely with a view of automation in mind, this has driven the need for specialist recruiters to step-in as LinkedIn/direct advertisements are often failing to return suitable profiles.

Candidates with under 3 years’ experience are still the most requested profiles. A desire to attract talent with Excel VBA or Python skills is becoming increasingly popular, making this hire incredibly difficult, with demand showing a noticeable increase in salaries and total remuneration. I believe this has resulted in making this end of the market lack value, as demand is outstripping the supply. We still have to remind many firms that few graduate schemes were run in 2020 and 2021, which has impacted the candidate market at this level. The rising cost of living has also nudged potential candidates, across all degrees of competence, toward seeking new roles with better packages.

Salaries have seen an increase across all areas, albeit the difference wasn’t as significant as that seen through 2022. The most noticeable area of change this year has been within Controls and Transaction Reporting, where there has been high demand for candidates with broad regulatory scope, strong reporting coverage and an ability to mitigate potential risk within a standard BAU role. We have placed candidates with 2-3 years’ experience on salaries in the £70,000 – £80,000 with many not entertaining a conversation regarding a potential move without seeing a minimum of £10,000 salary increase. The contract market has been busier for FTC (vs PAYE), although many companies have struggled to find candidates quickly, this is often as the salary is reflective to match a permanent member of staff, and not incorporating the added risk of the incumbent taking on a contract position.

It is worth noting that working conditions are changing. We are seeing many companies now moving from a 3&2 hybrid working model, and now implementing at least a 4&1 or more noticeably a 5-day onsite working environment again. We get many candidates on a weekly basis, who have become accustomed to the hybrid model, now approaching us for a new role as their companies are enforcing a non-hybrid model. Largely because it is realised that employees do a lot of non-work-related things during the working hours and consequently distracts from hitting targets and cut-offs as example.

More companies are also holding face-to-face interviews instead of video, and this is why some recruitment processes have slowed to accommodate suitable interview times outside of standard working hours. Many companies are now enforcing a 3-month notice period across Operations staff.

We are delighted to let you know that CassonX has produced its annual salary and total compensation survey for the Capital Markets sector and separates the detail via role type and experience levels. Should you wish to see a copy then please go to our contact page, click on client@cassonx.com, select salary benchmarking and fill in your details accordingly. We will be happy to send you a copy via email, or even catch up over a coffee or lunch to discuss further.

Last year we declared that there were astronomic levels of hiring across our specialist recruitment market, and certainly considering the market resurgences and volatility following the COVID-19 pandemic. 2023 has not slowed, yet the industry now appreciates that the ability to attract talented individuals who can cope with the demands of working in an Operations type role in a hedge fund is challenging. Especially when considering that their is a lack of suitable candidates available following the aggressive hiring that has taken place in 2021 and 2022. What is clear is that whilst this all understood, expectations of hiring managers have also risen too, and where many have tried to hire directly, they have returned to using the services of us skilled recruiters because as example, Linked In is just not returning suitable profiles and causing a lot of administration of unsuitable applicants.

The buyside is still competing for the best talent, with strong education and Excel VBA or Python skills still top of the agenda. We still have to remind many firms that no graduate schemes were run in 2020 and 2021, making the identification of a candidate with 2-3 years’ experience almost an impossible task, and when identified, many have already found new careers. With the consequential increase in demand for candidates with under 2 years’ experience, it is obvious that those salaries and total remunerations have increased, not also forgetting that cost of living has influenced potential candidates to look for a new role so they can earn more to pay for their increased bills, and making the very junior market lack value because demand is outstripping the supply. More details of these experiences can be found by reading this short blog: https://cassonx.com/the-difficulties-with-hiring-a-less-experienced-operations-or-middle-office-candidate-in-the-current-market/

It is also worth notice that working conditions are changing. We are seeing many companies now moving from a 3&2 hybrid working model, and now implementing at least a 4&1 or more noticeably a 5-day onsite working environment again. We get many candidates on a weekly basis, who have become accustomed to the hybrid model, now approaching us for a new role as their companies are enforcing a non-hybrid model. Largely because it is realised that employees do a lot of non-work-related things during the working hours and consequently distracts from hitting targets and cut-offs as example. Not forgetting the reduction of camaraderie in the workplace too.

More companies are also holding face-to-face interviews instead of video, and this is why some recruitment processes have slowed to accommodate suitable interview times outside of standard working hours. Can you also believe that whilst three months’ notice periods are deemed “normal”, some hedge funds are now enforcing six months’ notice period to their Operations staff! Thankfully, we are seeing more hedge funds now starting to give opportunities to those coming from Investment Banks again, especially those who have worked in technical Prime Brokerage type role.

We are delighted to let you know that CassonX has produced its annual salary and total compensation survey for the Hedge Fund sector and separates the detail via company size and type of role too. Should you wish to see a copy then please go to our contact page, click on client@cassonx.com, select salary benchmarking and fill in your details accordingly. We will be happy to send you a copy via email, or even catch up over a coffee or lunch to discuss further.

Candidates who fall into the 1 to 4 years’ of experience bracket have always been the most in demand type of profile recruiters are asked to find.

I have recruited during a couple of recessions, including the turmoil of the financial crisis post 2009, and I can honestly say that in my 18 year career specialising in Operations and Middle Office recruitment, the current market for these types of less experienced hires is one of the hardest and most challenging I have witnessed.

The main issue that we are facing is that most companies are only just starting to run graduate recruitment scheme, potentially the first since the summer of 2019, which consequently means that there is a distinct lack of individuals who fall in the 0 to 3 years’ experience bracket. Whilst CassonX has been able to find those who have that level of experience for many companies, because of the sheer demand for this talent, it means that they are commanding salaries that are indicative of those who traditionally have between 4 and 7 years’ experience. It also means that actively searching candidates have a plethora of job opportunities to choose from, with most of these individuals not wanting to just do the same job in a company just for a little bit more money. This has been the typical hiring strategy for many years. Consider that a lot of businesses will give them the chance to move into roles with an opportunity to develop and learn/do more, deemed more of an “exciting” opportunity than the traditional entry level Operations where they might have trained.

Very intriguingly, in most instances where the lucky few have managed to secure a role within Operations over the last couple of years, their working career dictates that they haven’t even been into the office five days a week and only ever experienced hybrid working conditions. Trying to attract this junior talent is very challenging, so the knock on effect mean that those with 4 to 7 years’ experience are the most inexperienced people that most employers can find available, and making that level of experience very demanding and competitive too. Candidates are demanding substantially more when moving for the same type of role. As example, candidates aren’t moving for a standard 4/5% increase, they are able to command £10,000 pay rises with probably rounding it up to the next £5,000 marker. And most companies are willing to pay it to attract the talent they want and be competitive.

Trying to educate some potential employers about this current climate and market conditions has been the hardest part of our role as a trusted recruitment partner, especially if they haven’t had to hire for a period of time and seen this recruitment spike. It is also worth highlighting there has be a ton of hiring in the Operations market in the last 6 months, and concequently many previously available candidates are now not available having secured roles. Realistically, there are certainly no large pools of good candidates sitting at home unemployed given the sheer volumes of roles we have seen.

It’s not only enticing that is very difficult, especially if companies can’t offer video style interviews and insist on face to face interviews, but also companies are really struggling with retaining their staff also. I am starting to experience many of my clients talking to me about offering retention incentives and other creative ways they are trying to keep their staff from having their heads turned. Especially as the cost of living has substantially increased this year too. The best advice I have given everyone considering a retention bonus is to make sure that this is on top of what they are already doing, and not, as example, as a substitute to a bonus they are receiving. It is becoming lot more standard in the industry that those working in Operations have a 3 months’ notice period as standard also. Unfortunately this does not fend off interest from other firms though.

Only 3 years ago I recall talking to businesses about people who wanted to only work 3 days in the office, and this was almost laughable. Because of the recent pandemic, the hybrid working model has now become a normality. Can you believe that candidates are now looking for even more flexibility than that! Especially when this is only what they have experienced hybrid conditions with their careers so far.

CassonX have really struggled sourcing talent for opportunities with companies where they want their employees in the office five days a week, or even host interviews in a face-to-face capacity. This is deemed much less favourable and given the huge amount of opportunities available to candidates, they have quite bluntly rejected the chance to even meet with them given the variety of options available. Unbelievably, some candidates are now demanding a chance to work from home at every single day of the week, which is not something CassonX agrees with for many reasons – especially for building camaraderie, but is showcasing and indicative of the new working conditions in the modern world that we are working towards.

We are also now passed the period where people are “lucky to still have a job”, and if an employee hasn’t been rewarded with pay rises or bonuses, then I can almost guarantee they will be looking for a new role, after committing and remaining loyal during this abnormal pandemic period. Even if they aren’t actively looking, then given the aggressive marketing strategies available on social media platforms, and of course LinkedIn, then I can guarantee they would have received communication from at least one recruiter at some stage offering a golden carrot to leave.

It is very much a candidate lead market at the moment, please do consider how the market has changed over the last year before hiring talent at this level. 

CassonX are very happy to discuss any of this information with those that are looking to hire talent, and how best to be successful in this climate.

There are three main qualities you need to have to succeed in a job in the City: a corporate mentality, determination and a strong work ethic.

Having a corporate mentality is very important if you want to succeed in this environment. Many people come to work in the City because they want to earn significantly more money, but you have to appreciate that you are working for a conglomerate and that, fundamentally, thriving in that environment takes the right kind of individual coupled with the right attitude.

The City is renowned for hiring the crème de la crème of the market – and indeed that’s the way it should be. To get there, having the determination to succeed should go hand in hand with also having the right work ethic.

To be better than everyone else in the City, you have to be relentless.

You have to try your best and make sure that you surround yourself with good people. You are only as good as the people around you, and having a good boss who you believe in is crucial. 

The most important lesson I have learnt over the years is: look after yourself.

To do this, work with a manager who will give you clear and measurable goals that are in line with your expectations.

The best piece of advice I could offer to anyone who wants to work in the City is: don’t try and run before you can walk.

It is highly unlikely that you will land your dream role straight away, so the first job that you have in the City is not the job you’re going to be doing forever. Whilst many people want to land the perfect role immediately, sometimes to achieve your goals you have to do things you don’t really want to do to get there, especially when you’re starting out.

When trying to get a job in the City, it’s really important to ensure that you can clearly communicate why you should be hired above other people.  

Competition is fierce. What are your unique selling points? What it is that makes you stand out when hiring managers are looking through countless CVs? 

Fundamentally, the City is a great place to work, and the financial rewards can be great. 

People who work in the City are paid, on average, 40% more than someone doing a similar role outside of London. However, in order to get here, you need to be at the top of your game. The things that will make you stand out are your personal traits and your ability to you fit into a firm’s culture. So if you want to get a job in the City, don’t be disheartened if you do really well in the interview, but then get feedback that says they don’t think you’ll fit into the team. You have to trust that those managers are making their decisions based on the current make up of their environment. Keep going at it, don’t give up, and do things that other people are not doing. David Beckham didn’t become the best free kick taker by just training with his team mates and kicking a ball all day – it was because he used to do all that work and then stay behind after training every single day to practice 100 free kicks. You need to be doing that.