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The last few years have seen a dramatic change in the overall nature of recruitment and the way companies are recruiting. Largely, this has been due to the global economic climate that has stifled growth for a number of trust and fiduciary organisations. The skill sets required are changing at the same rate as the nature of private client business is changing.

Prior to 2009 recruitment was a little more straight forward. Good candidates that possessed the STEP Diploma in International Trust Management would always find a new organisation when needed. Businesses tended to react to the influx of new business by recruiting more headcount and times as a recruiter were very good.

Post 09 the rules have changed in the trust and private client world and, as a consequence, the rules have changed from a recruitment perspective as well.

If we take Switzerland and Liechtenstein as an example, the requirement for trust and wealth planners has seen a change in the skill set required. More and more firms want to see trust officers, never mind wealth planners, with legal qualifications, preferably common law. Those candidates that are professionally qualified solicitors with credible on-shore experience have been highly sort after in this brave new world of transparent, compliant business.

As with all evolution, the achievement of passing the STEP diploma will soon no longer be enough. Employees must continue their professional development through examination in order to remain credible to employers and clients alike. Those who study advanced qualifications above and beyond the STEP diploma will truly develop their careers. Those that choose not to may find their career options and ambitions limited. Such qualifications now in demand include the STEP Advanced Certificates as well as the qualifications related to International Taxation plus related to UK Tax. Aside from legal qualifications, those candidates that have decided to study towards accountancy designations have discovered an increase in their demand, and, ultimately their market value.
Is there a shortage of talent? Not yet, but there will be. As the changing times that will demand employees with additional professional level qualifications and experience is gathering momentum, there will, naturally, there be an initial shortage as employees take the time to obtain further qualifications.

Is there a shortage of organisations in this brave new world of compliant tax and estate planning? It goes without saying that the market has shrunk as old business must be replaced. Many firms have exited business that cannot be made compliant and as such it becomes harder to source new business when critical mass shrinks.

In order to survive many firms have taken the option to be acquired or merged into another organisation. Ultimately, from a recruitment perspective, this means there are fewer firms to deal with, but the opportunities may not decrease due to the skills sets required.

As a result of a shrinking market does this mean that larger firms benefit? Not necessarily. There is always a place for personal service no matter what size of organisation. Some clients like to have all their financial arrangements with one bank; others however choose to use a smaller firm in order to guarantee a personal and bespoke service. Banks have also suffered since the market problems of 2008 and bank-trust businesses are “guilty by association”. In some cases this has seen a turn towards independent trust companies and family offices as opposed to relying on the banks. Also the level of trust that was once given to banks has, to an extent, been eroded over the last few years with high net worth individuals and clients seeking the organisation that will provide the best and most relevant service for them, not just to be sold products.

It is important as a recruiter to understand how changing markets effect recruitment and the service provided to candidates and clients alike. Now that skills sets have changed from trust officer upwards, it is important for the recruiter to understand their client and the markets the clients serves in order to identify relevant talent. Alongside personality, ability is paramount and the recruiter will need to be precise in matching both to an organisation.

The recruitment process for both candidate and client is still a two way process. The industry has changed and there are fewer opportunities whilst there are potentially a greater number of candidates. However this does not necessarily mean this is an employer driven market. Both parties need to sell their virtues. Candidates are increasingly nervous when it comes to changing companies in these uncertain times and it is imperative that the potential employer instils the confidence in the candidate to persuade them to take the leap of faith into a new organisation. On the flip side, candidates must proactively persuade the potential employer that they are worth investing in and that they have the key tangible and intangible qualities needed.

Recruitment in the private client arena across the globe has changed. The distinction between onshore and offshore is increasingly blurred and businesses as well as jurisdictions have to adapt to this brave new world of tax compliant, transparent structuring. The opportunities are here to be taken. Growth always follows a sector that adapts to changing times. Candidates and clients who have adapted to these times will in due course grow. Whilst the current recruitment climate is not easy the opportunities for recruiters are there and the future holds a great deal of promise for clients, candidates and recruitment.

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