Canadian Market Favors Risk and Wealth Management Expertise in Lieu of Traditional Capital Markets Roles

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Bay Street

The employment outlook on Bay Street seems rosiest these days for those able to focus either on risk or wealth management, experts say.

Employment in Toronto’s financial services industry—which includes jobs in banking, insurance and investment management—totaled 222,380 in 2011, according to Statistics Canada data. That’s down from 228,220 in 2009, but climbing back up from a dip to 220,680 in 2010.

“There’s always people who struggle, but I think the reality is that overall, the financial markets in Toronto are quite strong,” Joseph Palumbo, executive director of the Career Development Centre at the Schulich School of Business told Canada’s Financial Post recently.

“We’re seeing more risk management hiring for obvious reasons, and more internal consulting,” Palumbo says.

Alan Kearns, founder of Toronto-based career coaching firm CareerJoy, agrees. “There’s more demand than supply and more growth right now in both risk management and wealth management as people try to navigate through unpredictable times,” Kearns tells eFinancialCareers.

“I think it’s just a reflection of how the market is evolving,” Kearns adds.

“You’re in situations where higher net worth people are looking for more specific types of advice,” on the one hand. Moreover, “risk is something people want to manage on both the upside and downside, and now they’re looking to manage the downside.”

Peter Jarvis, executive director of the Toronto CFA Society, tells the Financial Post that with a raft of talented candidates vying for positions, landing a job in financial markets is still challenging, however, “I would say probably for the next five years anyway, one of the key places to be is in the private wealth game.”

Low interest rates may be squeezing commissions, he says, but that shouldn’t slow job growth.

“Many people now are very uncertain about how to manage their affairs, so there’s probably never been a greater need for advice than there is right now,” Jarvis says.

In banking, meanwhile, competition may be increasing because of an uptick in the volume of applicants, says Jennifer Bouyoukos, director of global sourcing and strategy at Royal Bank of Canada. She tells the Post that Canada’s largest bank has not slowed its hiring in terms of entry-level and student jobs.

The president of the Rotman school’s finance association, Shaaj Vijay, is set to graduate this year with a Rotman MBA and already has a job lined up with RBC’s sales and trading business. Vijay says the hiring numbers for students post-European crisis show no decline. About 70 percent to 80 percent of the 270 students in his class have lined up post-graduation employment, he says, but many are looking beyond the traditional investment banking roles they might have gravitated to in the past.

“Not as many people are going for the core capital markets jobs,” Vijay told the Post. They’re realizing opportunities in risk, in wealth management—which is a hugely growing business in all the banks—[as well as] in asset management.”

Kearns says it’s part of an industry evolution: In the tech field, jobs for those building software applications are now in huge demand, he says, which was not the case five years ago.

These days, he says, the financial services business needs more wisdom skills than technical skills.

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