2Q: Not from Hell
I was speaking to a person yesterday that asked me what I did for a living. When I explained that I recruited exclusively in the financial services industry, he kindly gave me the look as if I must be on my way to the financial aide office in town. Or maybe he was thinking the unemployment line. He patted me on the shoulder and softly said, "I am sorry to hear that. It must be pretty tough right now."
I don't blame him; lots of people have been sharing their sympathies with me this year. We have are seeing a sharp decrease in recruiters sending us their applications because they think financial services is the last place they should be recruiting right now. How could you not watch the news, read the paper, or hear any politician and not know that the financial services industry has been in the tank this year? How could a recruiting firm even survive when there have been more jobs cuts in financial services in the last 9 months than at any similar period of time since WWII?
The truth is, our business has never been stronger. One of my blog posts from the first quarter was titled “1Q the Quarter from Hell.” 2Q has not been from hell. The first of the year especially we did see a decrease in the quantity of positions offered to us by our clients in general recruiting. We have seen hiring freezes that certainly doesn't help matters. Right now, however, none of our clients are in a hiring freeze. Most of the cuts that affect us seem to have been made. We are seeing a sharp increase in job orders for open positions needing to be filled. Yes, we have firms that are just now primarily filling attrition hires. But we also have a dozen client firms that consider themselves in high growth mode. Two of our core divisions are having record years, seeing twice the billings YTD as last year.
Some recruiting firms have not survived. Many have reallocated their resources to other industries, such as energy and healthcare. I know lots of recruiters who have moved now almost exclusively to the green economy. At RJ & Makay we have made our name, reputation, and living making an exclusive commitment to the financial services industry. So the 52" flat screen plasma hanging on the wall next to my desk with financial news channels running quietly in the background I feel is justified (besides, it made it more convenient to watch the sudden death match between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate).
The financial services industry has been a very painful industry to be in this last year in just about every conceivable way. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs or their retirement investment value or both, billions in write downs, Bear Sterns, and on and on and on. It has been difficult to bear, and we have had many friends and associates adversely impacted by the negative financial industry. But this is a resilient industry. For an industry that has made a lot of dumb decisions, it is filled with some of the brightest and best-educated professionals of any industry in the world. The cyclical nature of markets and industries continues to churn. The financial industry as a whole will never be the same, but it is adapting and it will overcome.