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Review of Switzerland Finance Recruitment Market

Tuesday 19 April 2011 by Gina Le Prevost

The tendency towards the increased hiring of wealth and tax planners we observed last year was confirmed and this area still remains active. This has resulted due to the numerous changes of regulations which is increasing potential cross border issues. Foreign tax specialists are highly required by our clients to assist with the efficient complex structuring of the wealth of private clients. In conjunction we have also observed an increase of recruitment needs for the compliance and anti money laundering divisions particularly of private banks and asset managers.

Private bankers, "hunters" able to attract new clients, are still very high priority to the main players. Attention is still turned towards emerging markets, in particular Latin America, Eastern Europe and Russia - African countries is also becoming an interesting market. The Swiss onshore coverage comprising of Swiss nationals and wealthy foreign residents in Switzerland, is the second priority. Foreign banks with offices in either Geneva or Zurich are developing more and more their coverage of this 'onshore' market, by developing teams of foreign national bankers targeting customers from their own community of language and culture residing in Switzerland.

 

AP Executive has also noticed a growing interest towards the institutional and semi-institutional clients both based in Switzerland and abroad. More and more players target these clients with offers of a wide range of financial products. It has resulted in heavy recruitment of sales and relationship management professionals.

In the trust and fiduciary arena, we see that companies are looking at consolidation rather than at expansion. Family Offices are growing and new ones are sprouting, who are seeking highly specialised professionals - investment advisors, wealth and estate planners, portfolio managers, and concierge professionals in particular. Indeed, more and more ultra wealthy private clients consider this the best alternative providing them with independence as well as a dedicated round the clock service from top quality staff.

 

Due to the international network of AP Executive offices, which includes our presence in Zurich and Geneva, international candidates consult us to assist them in successfully finding a role in Switzerland which is still the country of preferred choice to live and work in.  Indeed the country is a very attractive destination for professionals in the financial and wealth management industries. It is seen by many as the place to gain international experience and accelerate careers. The quality of life and work balance is very good. Zurich and Geneva are ranked highly each year as the most enjoyable cities to live in. Switzerland's position at the heart of Europe makes the country a central hub and easily connected. The Swiss economy and the political system are still very stable.  Salaries are high with a ratio salary / cost of living often more interesting than in most other European economies.

 

Job seekers looking to relocate must be aware that Switzerland is a highly competitive market. During the past two years due to the global economic downturn, we are observing a significant increase in the time involved in the recruitment process at all levels of seniority. There is an increase of foreign candidates actively looking for a new job as a result of the global financial crisis. The current job market is definitely an employer's market place.  Thus, it creates greater competition between candidates. A solid technical know-how is no longer seen as enough to make a difference. Besides track record, experience and network, the choice of the successful candidate is often based on the quality of their social and client relationship management skills. That said there are still pockets of experience which is still a busy active employees market place those are Swiss qualified lawyers, compliance and anti money laundering professionals, wealth planners and private bankers with an interesting amount of assets under management.  Swiss employers can afford to be fussy and choosy for certain staff requirements in this market place, particularly operational roles. The global job market is becoming more and more cosmopolitan and languages are becoming a key requirement for jobs. To only speak English these days in most jobs is not enough. In answer to a more complex working environment, the more languages spoken and written the better. It is quite typical for us to come across candidates speaking at least three to four languages fluently, and up to 5 proficiently.  

The present ones which are popular are French and German particularly with Switzerland being historically a multi language country however other European languages required are Portuguese and Spanish for Latin American clients.  Mandarin and Cantonese will be languages which will be sought after by clients. We are already seeing a number of Swiss clients focusing on their Asian operations in Singapore and Hong Kong and the opportunities of opening new offices in China.

This article was written by Emmanuel Auperin, Former Manager of AP Executive in Zurich

This article was first published in Private Client Practitioner