It’s the request from a funds manager’s HR department that’s guaranteed to get a recruiter’s eyes rolling. “Can you find us a talented junior analyst with one or two years experience?”

The unspoken response from the recruiter is “join the queue”, and if you happen to be a boutique funds manager, join the very back of it. After all, graduates with finance degrees have never had more options for finding a job in funds management, and the competition for those who’ve proven themselves after a couple of years is fierce. The anecdotal evidence is that boutiques are losing many of their graduate staff at this crucial point. However, thinking beyond the diploma can help a boutique halt it’s revolving door of young analysts, writes the director of Abacus Recruitment Solutions, TOBY MARSHALL.

Life settlement funds purchase US lifMany small fund managers, research houses and advisory groups have great problems finding good young analysts. They have bigger problems keeping the good ones who do join them. Understanding this problem begins with recognising how the big firms have a huge advantage in attracting the best new graduates.

Furthermore, those that join a boutique and prove to be good are easily poached by the big firms with their strong brands, training programs and varied career opportunities. How big is the problem? Well, 15 years ago it didn’t exist as there were hardly any boutiques. Today there are thousands, ranging from ‘one man bands’ sharing office space up to firms of about 50 staff.

They all have one pressing need – for low cost, smart labour that enables them to leverage their time and grow their profits. What advantages do the big firms have in recruiting graduates? Most have HR departments which have created a graduate intake program. The larger firms have the biggest programs and hence the highest visibility – they have major displays out at the university Careers Fairs and large advertising budgets.

It is hard for the boutiques to even be noticed in this barrage of information. Once they have the attention of the best students, what job advantages do they have? Their training and development programs appeal strongly; plus they have a variety of career paths to choose from when the graduate program finishes. In a recent study undertaken by Abacus, over 80 per cent of high achieving students said they wanted to start their career in a large firm.

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