Although the sell side in the financial services industry has virtually halted all of its recruiting efforts due to the subprime crisis, the buy side is aggressively hiring, in anticipation of the oncoming wave of retiring Baby Boomers and the increasing internationalization of the markets, according to Russell Reynolds.

“This has been an historic year in the asset and wealth management industry,” said Russell Reynolds Managing Director Cornelia L. Kiley, who is with the firm’s asset and wealth management practice. “The mid-year market turbulence was not a signal to retrench, but, rather, to set the performance bar even higher. The relentless pursuit of alpha has led to upgrades from the C-suite to portfolio management to the back office.”
Russell Reynolds found that turnover in the C-suite this year has been 15% higher than in 2006, due to boards’ impatience with underperformance, coupled with a large number of executives reaching retirement age.

There is incredible demand for chief investment officers, leading to generous compensation packages. As firms diversify their investment holdings, they are particularly seeking CIOs with experience in a broad array of asset classes.

Emerging markets has also been a hot topic this year, particularly real estate development. “Investment professionals with a track record of high performance in these markets—who understand the real estate aspects of a deal and can accurately underwrite the risk—are exceptionally scarce,” according to Russell Reynolds.

In addition, hiring for technology and operations executives continues to be robust, particularly those who can seamlessly connect the back office to the front office. Thus, “there is an increasing emphasis on candidates with firsthand understanding of investment management business processes, ranging from risk management and financial reporting to specific product strategies and portfolio management,” Russell Reynolds said.

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