Just when we thought the world was getting back to some kind of normality, a worrying conflict erupts in Eastern Europe that has shocked the world. It’s seriousness and impact has been felt by everyone and at the time of writing this, we all hope and pray that this needless war comes to a peaceful resolution soon.
The British economy has become somewhat accustomed to volatility in recent years and although markets fluctuated in response to the conflict, this has not had a material impact on recruitment activity within the company secretarial job market. Admittedly, IPO activity has dampened since April however anecdotal evidence suggests that the appetite for companies to list remains and we expect a 3-6 month pause until the medium-term picture becomes a little clearer. This has seen Group Level Company Secretary hires reduce by 60% in Q2 compared to the previous quarter, but we fully expect this to gain lost ground over the next six months.
Deputy level roles continue an upwards trend fuelled mostly by a post pandemic review of governance structures and the Board’s desire to upgrade infrastructure and levels of support. This is especially true for smaller teams that are struggling with the volume of work passing through the department. As we have often commented, identifying talent with the right balance of experience and ambition at this level requires a deep understanding of the candidate market. Employers need to be mindful that candidates at the Deputy level are suffering from ‘job opportunity fatigue’ and as such, employers are having to employ every more strategic methods to stand out in a competitive market if they are to attract top talent. Some interesting stats to consider from the past 6 months. 70% of offers were met with a counteroffer from their current employer. 40% of these counteroffers were successful. 90% of those that accepted a counteroffer started looking again within 6 months.
Demand at the Assistant level continues to gather pace unabated. Demand outstrips supply leading to a gradual and consistent upwards pressure on salaries. Many companies are often surprised at what a good Assistant Company Secretary can command and will seek internal approval for additional budget. For those that are unable to secure the extra budget, expectations are realigned, and the level of experience required will drop a level or two to accommodate the budget. Either way, talent at this level remains tight and over 90% of the roles we place are with people that are not actively looking for a role.
The interim market has been in hot demand with the number of instructions up by 15% compared to Q1. Candidate supply is very tight and where we are unable to assist, we recommend speaking to one of the professional services providers for short term support.
Demand within Banking and Finance, Tech, Pharma, professional services and not for profits make up the vast proportion of opportunities within the market. More specifically, the large banks and insurers that experience attrition of c. 10% annually will look naturally to replace leavers. Investment Management firms that traditionally have small secretariats are hiring to increase critical mass on the back of improved governance and in response to regulatory complexity that governs the financial markets. Large charities seem to be going through an extended period of change and enhancing governance is high up on the agenda for many. These are not the back-office roles they once were. Most are outward facing, strategic roles that require the skills of a commercially orientated Company Secretary. After a two-year period of restrictions and lockdowns, many from the commercial sector have reassessed their lives and long-term career plans and will now consider opportunities in the NFP’s as an exciting new challenge and to feel they are giving something back. This, in our opinion is a good thing for the sector and the profession as a whole.
Looking ahead, barring any unforeseen market jarring events, we expect demand for governance professionals to at least maintain at their current levels. With travel restrictions eased we anticipate that many will take the opportunity to go abroad in the summer and switch off completely meaning we could see a dip in recruitment activity in July and August. However, this will be short lived as despite all the market volatility there are no obvious signs of a slowdown just yet.
Posted 16/05/2022 By David Press
Ready to work with us?
67 Clerkenwell Road