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Finance Jobs Outlook Cautiously Optimistic for 2010

Finance Jobs Outlook Cautiously Optimistic for 2010

Those who still had accountant jobs, banking jobs, finance jobs and investment banking jobs spent 2009 doing more than ever while sometimes being paid less than ever for their efforts. Whether you're ready to change jobs or you're unemployed, there's good news: Financial careers experts believe 2010 is going to be much better than 2009 for those in accounting, insurance, investment banking and finance positions.

"There are positive signs for the future," says Todd Steen, an economics professor and labor market guru at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. "The economy is going to come back eventually, and we're still going to need banks, financial advisors and mortgages."

Accounting Jobs Outlook

In accounting, companies will continue to be strategic about their hiring, but certain specialists will do well, says Dawn Fay, president of Robert Half International's New York district.

The most in-demand accounting jobs include tax accountant, International Financial Reporting Standards specialist, corporate governance and compliance specialists, business analysts and tax analysts. Financial analyst jobs should also pick up.

Finance Jobs Outlook

Within the broader scope of finance, demand will be solid for those who help companies cope with regulations, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission's move to increase oversight of managed investment funds.

Hiring of fund accountants, operations professionals and compliance experts will all pick up in 2010, according to James Langan, a partner with recruiter Winter, Wyman's Investment & Financial Services division in Boston.

And as the credit crisis continues to play out, financial services firms will be looking for credit managers and senior financial analysts in 2010, Fay says.

Buy-Side Outlook

As long as the Dow doesn't fall significantly, medium to large asset- and investment-management companies will shift from laying off to hiring in the first quarter of 2010, Langan says.

Firms that operated in early 2009 with a bare minimum of staff have already started hiring. "In late 2009, hiring was fairly active for sales, marketing and asset-gathering professionals," says Frank Carr, a partner with the investment-management practice of Battalia Winston Amrop, a New York City-based recruiter. As hedge funds' assets grow, those fund companies will hire more investment analysts and back-office people later in 2010, he adds.

A second trend influencing fund hiring is frustration over stagnant finance salaries, nonexistent bonuses and a lack of opportunities caused by promotion freezes. "It's amazing the number of people who work at these firms who cannot wait to make a move," Langan says. "That's going to cause open positions."

Investment Banking Jobs Outlook

After taking huge write-offs in 2008, Wall Street was posting surprisingly good numbers by the end of 2009. However, credit card firms, rating agencies and commercial banking struggled with poor results in 2009. Either way, your financial fortunes follow your company's fortunes in finance.

"If you were in investment banking your incentives and bonuses went up in 2009, and if you were in a credit card company or an asset manager, they went down," says Alan Johnson, managing director of Johnson Associates, a compensation consulting firm in New York City.

In 2010, those trends will likely reverse as the favorable trading spreads that fueled 2009 investment bank income disappear, while an improving economy should boost the credit card and commercial banking industry, he says.

Financial Planning Jobs Outlook

The market for financial services and insurance will expand in 2010, as consumers regain confidence in investment opportunities, says Frank Woodruff, CEO of Sapient Financial Group, a San Antonio-based member of MassMutual Financial Group.

When demand rises, companies will hire financial planners and insurance agents. At the same time, though, consolidation in the banking industry has led to layoffs in back-room and support operations in financial service sales operations, Woodruff adds.

TARP Jobs

Another area of finance that will see growth in 2010 is the troubled asset sector. The US government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has created unique pockets of demand for professionals in accounting, finance, legal services and real estate, says Joe Burkhart, a sales director for Spherion, a Fort Lauderdale-based recruiter.

Battalia's Carr says professionals who can squeeze a profit out of buying and selling troubled assets will be in demand for one-off positions. "There are new funds coming up with new ways to take advantage of the dislocation, and there we could see hiring," he says.

It All Depends on the Economy

A final word of caution: Anyone trying to predict what the 2010 job market will look like is also making an assumption about what the economy will do. So while things appear to be looking up for financial services, these predictions could all change if the US economy falters for another year.

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