(A look at career options available to those in the Funds Industry by Nabil McNaughton)
Following my degree, like many, I was unsure what exactly I wanted to do. A number of my family were in Financial Services and Accounting and as stability and progression were high on the agenda, I decided to start my career as a Fund Accountant.
I found the role challenging and interesting and it gave me my first real insight into Financial Services and more generally, the key skills required in a business environment.
Added to this, a like-minded group of young, energetic colleagues and it’s fair to say I look back on my experience with very fond memories!
But it’s also fair to say that the idea of “crunching the numbers'” and producing the NAV in a correct, efficient and all too regular basis was not what I had in mind when declaring my future profession of choice back in play school.
Then again we don’t all have the ingenious acting skills of Leonardo Di Caprio or the touch of Ronaldo so it’s essential to pick a career that is somewhat realistic but equally where we can feel challenged, rewarded and ultimately become successful doing a job we enjoy.
Following my 3 years in Fund Accounting, I was interested in a relationship based role and made the move to recruitment. Over the last 7 years I have spent a huge amount of time interviewing both junior and senior level fund administration candidates in the Irish and Australian market.
One thing that has become evident to me over the years is that whilst there are a large number of consistently content individuals there comes a time in a lot of Fund Accountants lives when they have “itchy feet.” This invariably happens when you have a few years’ experience and through maybe, a very tough client, a difficult manager, a lack of diversity in the role, or a lack of the holy grail that is “work life balance” you have become somewhat disenfranchised with the role and often times – the industry.
A number of you who are reading this will have hit a similar career crossroads but have decided to stay the course and have reaped the benefits. Equally, if you have a few years funds exposure and are currently wondering about your next career move the good news is that although you may not know it now you are in a great position and the world is your oyster. It is worth considering the following:
The Funds Industry
Firstly you are part of one of the most successful (and thankfully once again) rapidly expanding industries in Ireland.
Ireland currently has over €2.5 trillion in AUM which is set to soar to €3.5 trillion by 2020 which would increase jobs in the sector by up to 10,000 (according to a report by PWC earlier this year)
The average salary of a Senior Manager or VP is in the region of €80k – €100k. Add to this excellent pension, health, competitive bonus and it is easy to see why many talented individuals continue to build lucrative careers.
Having worked in Australia as a fund Accountant, I can testify that funds experience is also like a passport to travel, to continue your upward career trajectory and to earn some nice cash while you do it.
Finally and most importantly you maybe disillusioned with the NAV process but look it at it like your right of passage or your initiation, if you will.
The Fund Accounting role enables you to gain a solid grounding in accounting, the fund administration process, the various financial instruments and investment types but more importantly it equips you with an extremely transferable skill set which includes relationship management, business analysis, reporting and project management.
This exposure coupled with a desire to hone and develop your skills and gain further qualifications will see you very much in demand from a wide range of recognised and desirable employers.
The Career Opportunities
The Fund Accounting springboard can deliver an array of very exciting, challenging and lucrative career options as listed below:
Fund Accounting Manager/Director
An obvious step here but the majority of Fund Accounting managers that I speak to are very happy with their FA role and they find that in tandem with the overview of the NAV process they also enjoy being the key point of contact for their large FM clients, their unique involvement in key business initiatives such as process improvements or client on-boarding and the experience gained in leading and developing a High performing team,
An excellent career awaits within project management. With recent improvements in funds software, high profile changes in the regulatory environment and the arrival of a number of new fund managers and administrators to Ireland has resulted in exceptional opportunities for individuals who poses a knowledge of funds and have strong analytical, organisational and communication skills.
Over the last 12 months there has been an upswing in these vacancies as administrators and asset managers look to bring a raft of new products and services to market given the increased reporting requirements, advances in technology and a wider array of fund types and financial products.
This is a very people orientated role that requires a detailed knowledge of the industry and an ability to match the client’s needs both now and in the future with the service offering and capability within their business.
Relationship Manager/Business Development
For those individuals who know their stuff from a funds perspective but equally know people and have a natural ability to engage and build strong relationships, then this is the role for you. In a highly competitive marketplace where administrators and managers compete aggressively for business, the RM’s with the right combination of skills who can understand, relay and deliver on the clients’ needs are highly sought after
This is the real “sexy” area and the reason why a number of strong individuals have moved across the pond in search of attractive front office positions. The reality is that whilst there are excellent opportunities over there they are on the rise here also and will continue to increase substantially given the increase in Asset Managers with Funds domiciled here and larger funds houses using Dublin as a European hub. A solid grounding in fund administration is an excellent springboard to move to this area and I have met with and placed a number of people over the years who have successfully done so.
In summary the industry has found its feet again after a few difficult years and with hiring levels set to increase significantly and a wider range of exciting, challenging and lucrative opportunities on the horizon, the ball is very much back in the candidates court.
If you are interested in finding out more about the funds, asset management and wider FS market then get in touch for a confidential chat.