Hiring - 'Unprecedented Amount of Activity'


by Alex White

Senior Partner, Talent & Research 9th Jan 2017

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Alex White is the founding partner at Avellio. He is an industry experienced former analyst, and has led over 120 retained search assignments for data science leaders, with mandates entrusted by leading global investment banks, major retailers and analytics consultancies.


Its a solid start to the new year for the quant job market, with many new instructions from our clients looking to hire-in talent. The beginning of a new year at Avellio traditionally sees a steady flow of new clients and new vacancies created, with the exception of this year: week two of January 2018 and we have already seen a hive of activity amongst clients, its been far busier than usual. Clients are uniform in their request, there is an urgency to secure talent to enable them to unlock commercial value from data. With an increasing number of companies entering the fray for quant professionals the effect has pushed salaries north and set professionals in motion.

So, how long should you remain with a company before seeking change?

Through an analysis of our notes from candidate conversations in 2017, what did they tell us about the length of their tenure in their previous role? We drew an average from the available data that we had and found that the average duration of a quant’s engagement with a company was around 2.4 years.

Given the current condition of the market and knowing how our clients think and operate we can take a reasonably informed view on how long a healthy tenure should be. Our chart below displays our estimates:

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Looking at those professionals that secured new opportunities in 2017 we correlated the time spent with their previous empty and drew an average of 2.5 years. If you take the view that time spent under one year in a new permanent role will likely be considered a negative, and over 5 years could be considered as too long, the sweet spot is 2.5 years. 

For senior quants this picture will look a little different, as the scope of your responsibilities and the gestation period of key projects that you have the responsibility for overseeing will take a great deal more time to accomplish, than that of juniors (0-3yrs) and intermediate level (3-5yrs) quants. Leaders will also want to see the business realise the value of actionable insight gained from the big data picture, and to receive the recognition that they duly deserve for any commercial gains as a result of their efforts. 

For any analytics professional just starting out, it can be of certain advantage to change jobs more frequently, to enable them to benefit from greater exposure to multiple commercial project areas which will help crystallise their interests and help to identify their talents in specific areas of data analysis. 

Conversely, for those long-termer’s that remain with a company for over 5 years, unless there is a project case for remaining with the business, when the time comes to look for a new job the hiring managers may take the view that you are prone not to want change, or lack the flexibility to adapt.

The importance of deliberate career planning, being in control, and taking action.

Its essential to be approach your career planning with a true sense of purpose, and to keep the bigger picture in mind. If you are considering a job offer exclusively for the increase in base salary, or letting your ego sway you with the promise of a more impressive job title, then you could be overlooking alternative offers which on balance may truly offer you the career development that you have in mind.

Do you want to try something a little different to the nature of your work in your current role, or perhaps you are looking at a new domain or industry? Whatever the main motivation is for looking to change jobs, you should take an aerial view, based on the full scope of the opportunity, by answering questions such as: Will you be able to learn new skills from co-working with colleagues? Will you be able to select and learn new, progressive tools and methodologies? Would this new opportunity stretch my technical abilities and make me a better analyst? 

Its important in this situation to truly understand your career intent and to have a vision as to what the right career pathway should look like. Ensure that you form a set criteria in order to measure and qualify each new job opportunity against your goals and values. Be mindful of your time and that of the hiring managers, if its not a fit for you, don’t waste your time interviewing.

Looking ahead to this new year, it will be fascinating to see how the quantitative hiring market develops. Although the market is currently very robust for analysts looking to change jobs, it is only a matter of time until the supply and demand for analysts reaches a position of equilibrium, but until such time, salaries will remain high and analysts are in the driving seat!

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By Alex White
Alex White