Based on Q4 2019 and Q1 2020 hiring in the asset and wealth management business, 2020 staffing levels already have a 2+% growth in overall staffing, baked in from 2020. Pausing hiring across the board is mostly about safe health practices in the face of the pandemic. It is very difficult for large companies to control one-on-one interviews that are so essential for recruiting, particularly if they involve offsite meetings. Therefore, these hiring freeze policies are responsible actions, regardless of one’s views on broader business growth goals.

Our observations continue to be that hiring remains cautious and focused in niches responding to the broader secular shift in skills toward technology and quantitative knowledge and experience, within the framework of industry asset and wealth management expertise, and innovative distribution channels such as ETFs. Staffing levels in every function tied to traditional core investment strategies and mature distribution channels continue to be effectively frozen and prone to episodic reductions in the face of firm-specific or broader economic challenges, such as we will experience for at least Q2 and Q3 2020.

At Wilbanks Partners we are still active in our recruiting initiatives for innovative roles in growth areas such as alternatives, marketing, and solutions-based sales, as examples. The searches have gone virtual, with video conferences keeping progress on track. There is no question that every search we currently have open will see a 30-60 day extension as finalist candidates await a lifting of the work in place orders to allow face-to-face meetings and negotiations necessary for the completion of executive-level hires. All our clients remain optimistic that the tight time cycles of the pandemic, as China has already shown, will allow business to resume this summer, despite the enormous hardships and sadness that society at large will inevitably endure during the journey of the next several months. By Michelle F Davis

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