February 17, 2011

Employee poaching is becoming more aggressive on Wall Street, and firms are taking note: more than 40% of recruiters and hiring managers are currently assessing which employees are at highest risk of poaching, according to a new survey from eFinancialCareers.

Poaching is taking place both from within the financial industry itself and outside - with technology departments most likely to poach from outside Wall Street, the survey found.

eFinancialCareers interviewed 200 hiring managers and recruiters on Wall Street. Out of these, 57% said they expect poaching to become more assiduous on Wall Street over the next year.

"There was a difficult time after the crisis. A lot of people stayed put for the last couple of years. They were reluctant to move as they didn't know how green the grass was on the other side. But we're past that now. Poaching is on the upswing," says Constance Melrose, managing director of eFinancialCareers North America.

The technology industry is the number one industry where hiring managers believe employees can transition into financial services. Similarly, technology departments at Wall Street firms are those most likely to hire from outside the capital markets industry. [They were followed by accounting/corporate finance and operations departments.]

"Technology is so crucial to having a competitive edge on Wall Street. There are not enough technologists to go around as they are needed for areas like high-speed trading, rapid modeling and real-time modeling. So they're very valuable," Melrose says.

Of particular value is anyone who knows the C programming language, since it is used for high-speed trading and real-time modeling, Melrose adds.

"It's used a lot in simulation, so people who have worked on online video games are very valuable," she said, noting that technologists with experience in project management, risk management and databases are also in high demand.

Those looking to get their foot in the door should target buy-side firms, Melrose pointed out. "The sell-side needs people who can 'do it yesterday.' On the buy-side, the time cycle is a bit longer. The buy-side is more willing to take people in."

In the meantime, 42% of those surveyed said their firms have done an assessment of which employees they think are at risk of being poached. (A further 41% have not).

Still, surprisingly, most are doing nothing to keep these 'at-risk' star employees at their current firms, Melrose pointed out.

But what can firms do to stop their star employees from jumping ship? "Because there is so much regulatory scrutiny on bonuses, you want to have more salary upfront," says Melrose.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in ...