Spotlight on IR recruitment
Anastasia Pittas was a corporate broker at Citigroup for three years before joining EMR as a senior consultant specializing in IR and communications recruitment. Here, she shares her experience and advice, and gives us a valuable insight into the current IR recruitment trends affecting the sector.
Elite Connect: What trends have you noticed in terms of companies building their IR teams in recent times?
Anastasia Pittas: In the last few years, there has most definitely been a trend in hiring those with exceptional financial and numerical skills, as well as hiring those with a solid understanding of how the capital markets work. Where once, an emphasis may have been on communications, the majority of clients now and most recently have been focusing on those with a real grasp of the numbers, which is why anyone with the CFA or accounting background, or those from the investment banking space have become the main type of candidates that clients are putting through to interview.
We carry out a regular IR salary survey, which has been a valuable tool for clients looking to build out their teams. We’ll be launching our new IR salary survey in spring 2018 and it will be interesting to see how the landscape continues to evolve.
EC: Are you noticing any specific roles being developed in response to regulation, e.g. heads of IR hiring corporate access specialists in light of Mifid II?
AP: I believe it is still a little too early for there to be any real response to Mifid II in terms of hiring requirements -a lot of clients are in wait-and-see mode- but I think in the coming months, there will be even more of an emphasis and importance placed on an IR team, and this will mean that clients will have even more reason to bring the best in class to join their IR team. We have had clients discuss with us the possibility of bringing people in-house with the corporate access/investor targeting skill set, as they come to rely less on the sell-side and corporate brokers when it comes to meetings with the buy-side and roadshows.
EC: Have you observed any team developments which involve department crossovers, e.g. IR taking more responsibility for PR/communications functions?
AP: Not particularly. In fact, we have found that these functions have become more defined, with less crossover than there used to be historically. Of course, there will always be a need for the IR teams to work incredibly closely with the PR/communications function, but from what we’ve seen (and we recruit across IR and comms), they are still very much their own departments.
EC: What are your top tips for companies looking to broaden their IR teams?
AP: With the average IR team size being between two to three people, it is important to bring the right type of person on board.
We advise our clients to focus on a range of factors when hiring, but to take it back to basics when looking at someone’s suitability: are they a team player? Are they going to be comfortable dealing with senior stakeholders, the sell-side and the buy-side? Are they going to be confident with the numbers, and be in a position to understand models from the sell-side? Are they good communicators? Are they going to be happy to get stuck in to a broad, all-encompassing role?
In IR, team-fit and cultural-fit is everything, and while on paper a candidate may be excellent, what is most important is how that candidate comes across in person. That is the most important part of our role in the recruitment process, to ensure that before we send candidates to a client, we have met them, and they are in fact the all-rounders you need to be to do well in IR.