Asset 2

Looking towards H2 2019 – Challenges within Banking and Financial Services

06 June 2019 by Mason Alexander
Markus Spiske 1647934 Unsplash

​Looking towards H2 2019 – Challenges within Banking and Financial Services

Mason Alexander recently hosted an evening with some key banking and financial services executives in Dublin. Up for discussion were key challenges in the industry, namely from a talent perspective as well as what they envisaged their institutions to be up against going into the second half of the year.

Gender Balance

Gender Balance within banking and FS seems to be a huge challenge at the moment. Several areas of finance remain largely male dominated;

  • Corporate finance

  • Leverage finance

  • Capital markets

It was discussed that some of the reasons behind this imbalance go back further than we think. Education plays a massive part in laying the foundations of female career paths in certain areas within banking. The number of females who decide to pursue maths/ quantitative finance and investment banking/trading careers post-third level education is significantly lower than their male counterparts. As a result, we see much fewer females in these positions.

Firms are tackling this problem by committing to diversity strategies, some are aiming to achieve 30%+ female presence at board level and across lower levels of the business. They are also looking at partnering with schools and universities to encourage females to break this illogical mould and pursue a career that is of interest to them, not one which they feel fits an apparent ‘historic norm’.


Companies are finding diversity in race and ethnicity is a big challenge when maintaining a diverse workspace. A large amount of hiring still happens internally with employees referring individuals into roles; this is generally a good hiring policy, but it can also result in a diversity imbalance. Many of our clients engage in diversity targets and track using data platforms to ensure the correct balance exists.

Culture Change

Culture is an important factor that people consider when moving jobs and more businesses are taking steps to ensure their culture is attractive to potential employees. The banking and FS world is often viewed as being behind the curve when it comes to the modern work life – however like some of the big tech giants, the large investment banks are following suit with additional office perks such as snacks, flexible hours, working from home etc. Many even have Google-esque beanbags and break out areas!

This traditional perception of banking and FS, especially areas such as investment banking, are that they are male dominated, they require long hours and that there is little flexibility. It was discussed that there is now an increased focus on office culture and improving work life balance for employees.


The confusion around Brexit and the uncertainty of the future was also discussed. Many firms have already set up offices in Ireland or are thinking of moving over or expanding their current entities. The regulator has strict guidelines around certain roles that must be in place (eg., PCF) and rules to ensure they keep their licenses. Head counts must be at optimum levels before certain dates – and that is where Mason Alexander have been a clinical, strategic partner for many of these firms.

Despite a lot of the exciting news headlines in the Irish papers, some of the growth in headcount has been staggered with all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Naturally, there has been a hesitancy to pull the trigger on hiring, initially up to April / May deadline – and now based on recent developments, it’s looking towards the end of October. In a highly competitive talent market, this adds an extra strain to ensuring these firms are getting the right people.

Skill Shortage

It was discussed that the shortage of skills in Ireland is becoming a real struggle for hiring the 3-5 years’ experience at manager/assistant manager levels across all business lines in banks and FS firms. Risk, compliance, governance roles in particular are in constant demand. Within risk, we are seeing a real shortage of strong credit risk modelling professionals. Firms may look to hire from other cities across Europe in these areas due to the limited options in Dublin.

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