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The top 5 hiring trends in quants right now

Posted by on 07 September 2023
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Companies are competing to secure highly skilled quants from an extremely limited talent pool. With the further adoption of data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in finance and banking, the roles, responsibilities, and remuneration packages of quantitative analytics, research & trading experts are evolving as well.

Discover some of the top trends impacting the hiring market that leading talent partner Selby Jennings is witnessing.

Sell side and buy side movements

“There has been an interesting trend of senior individuals moving from the sell side to the buy side, which is gathering momentum,” advises Matthew Rooney, Associate Director, London Head of Quantitative Analytics, Research and Trading.

“As portfolios become more diversified and more niche, firms need professionals who have greater knowledge, which tends to come from the sell side due to more overall exposure to building relationships.”

From a hiring perspective, this is increasing demand for portfolio management professionals. Multi-managers are investing in technology, bolstering their operations, and expanding their research, modelling, and execution teams to enhance the appeal of their platforms to attract top-tier talent. This shift presents a favourable environment for those seeking opportunities in the buy side space.

Bonuses are still big

The market is robust in both Europe and the US, as evidenced by strong bonus data in recent Selby Jennings surveys. Rooney says:

“Competition for strategic, business-changing hires is still critical, and sign on bonuses are becoming more normal. Following in the footsteps of the US, European firms raising base salaries.”

48% of quants professionals surveyed in the US said their bonus had increased in the last year. Quants and multi-strategy were the top performing hedge fund sectors in 2022, according to Senior Vice President at Selby Jennings USA, Tyler Robinson. He continues:

“It is not surprising to see this reflected in bonuses. It will be interesting to see if this continues in 2023 as there have been many geopolitical and economic events that have provided the market volatility needed for hedge funds to realise big gains.”

Organisations should be reviewing their bonus structures if they want to attract the best of the best, in other words.

Embracing flexibility

Historically, flexible working has not been a hallmark of financial services, but many financial institutions have already adopted, or are expecting to adopt a mix of remote and office working. Selby Jennings surveyed a number of clients on their approach to flexible and hybrid working, and the majority of respondents offer hybrid working in some form (nearly 62%). 73% said flexible/remote working policies do help to attract and keep talent, but interestingly only 40% think flexible working has increased productivity.

While these results are relevant to the entire financial services industry and are not specific to quants, they reveal the adoption of flexibility, which can be a big draw for professionals when considering their next career move.

Continued focus on diversity

Diversity in quants remains under the spotlight, and despite many business leaders citing DE&I as a top priority, it can be challenging to convert intent into action. As featured in the Selby Jennings specialist quants report, “The Real Alpha”, only 20% of quantitative analysts working in the USA today are female and they still face a gender pay gap, earning 94¢ for every $1 earned by their male counterparts.

Elizabeth Holmes, Senior Vice President at Selby Jennings USA, shares how she works with clients to increase diversity in hiring within the quants space:

“I regularly consult global clients on specific diversity focused hiring initiatives and implement pipelines, so when a diverse candidate become active on the market we are able to expand their search through these avenues. As a result, these clients have made several hires and have returned for continued support on DE&I initiatives.

“Additionally, we advise our clients to ensure that at least one female is included within an interview panel. Stressing the importance of representation, especially in a candidate’s first impression of a role, can ultimately make or break their experience and affect their decision making.”

Increased desire for technology skills

The integration of emerging technologies like data science and machine learning means the entire field of investing is encoded in software soon. For quants, who traditionally rely on complex mathematical models and techniques, these technologies are powering a new wave of efficiency and innovation.

While this is creating new opportunities for quant professionals, it is also affecting their desirable skills – hiring managers are increasingly seeking candidates who have experience in these areas. Quants with strong technical skills and the ability to harness AI will only continue to become more in-demand.

Speak with the Selby Jennings talent experts at QuantMinds International!

Meet Selby Jennings at QuantMinds International for more information on the quants hiring landscape.

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