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What the Financial Services Industry Looks for in Candidates

14 Nov 2014
Karen Kerr

What the financial services industry looks for in candidates


This is the most positive I have felt about the Financial Services market in 3 years. Hiring levels have hit a post-recession peak, and a number of our specialist functions are seeing an uplift in business – Asset Managers in particular are looking to increase their headcount, and in addition to this those with Luxembourg or Dublin experience are highly desirable.

Certain skillsets are now becoming hard to find, especially in experienced Financial Services candidates with excellent knowledge of the industry, who have seen through challenges on a daily basis involving new regulations and the impact these have on investment.

Although there has certainly not been an explosion of roles, there has certainly been a gradual increase month on month as confidence has slowly returned. With this in mind, it is important that candidates are aware of what the market is looking for currently, so that they can position themselves to get the best possible roles available to them.

Currently, when financial services are recruiting, they are looking for:



Financial Services are more flexible currently than they have been in prior more buoyant markets – there is certainly a desire to recruit quality rather than quantity, and so they are willing to view perhaps a wider range of career experience. With this in mind, it is imperative that candidates convey their relevance, explaining how their experience relates directly to the role and enables them to be great at it. Whether your experience has been developed in one specific niche area, or across a broad variety of areas, what matters is that it is high calibre, relevant, and will help you in the role you are applying for.



It’s clear when someone is applying to a role in Financial Services for the wrong reasons. A candidate needs to be able to demonstrate more than ever what excites them about their industry, and that their passion has been truly ignited by the sector. Of course, everyone can say that they’re passionate about something – give examples of what you’ve done in your career that demonstrates it. Have you decided to attend conferences or seminars to learn about key developments, for example? It’s all about showing that this isn’t just a day job to you – it’s where your heart is.



It’s not enough to have good in-depth knowledge of your division and role. Those hiring are looking for candidates who have sound knowledge of the industry, up-to-date market awareness as well as current regulatory knowledge. Internally, they should know where their role and activities fit in in terms of the ecosystem of the business and the industry – who will their action in the back or middle office affect? What departments directly affect you? What products are on offer across the business, and how do you go about implementing them? This is the kind of multi-functional operations experience and knowledge will make you a highly desirable candidate.


Communication Skills

Of course, those technical skills are imperative to have, but if you can have all of that and still have a great personality that fits with the organisational culture of the firm, with the ability to genuinely speak to people from all walks of life and all departments and skillsets, then this will make you someone people will want to work with.


If you’re interested in a Financial Services role, search for them here - wish to discuss your career further? Contact Karen Kerr on 0131 550 1129 or email her at



Karen Kerr
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