Middle Office & Investment Operations Update – July 2018

Fri, July 20, 2018

The market

The last three months have been buoyant for investment operations recruitment; we have seen high volume hiring strategies from all our clients across both permanent and contract – some of which have been directly impacted by Brexit contingency planning” – Clare Scott, Managing Director.

Since our last update

The 4 key areas of demand have been:

  1. Support 
  2. Oversight
  3. Product management
  4. Product development and fund launch

Contract versus permanent demand

39% of the roles we have assisted with have been contract and 61% were permanent.  This has been a result of the increase in the investment of specific and specialist skill sets within the middle office over the last three months. A number of roles have additionally been located in Luxembourg where permanent headcount is more common than contract headcount.

Key trends

  • Investment Support – there has been high demand for IMC / CFA qualified investment support candidates that want to remain in an operational function across all asset classes.  Investment support hiring is being driven by clients’ winning multiple new institutional mandates and front office flows have increased leaving a requirement to build bigger teams to streamline existing processes.
  • Oversight - with outsourcing continuing to be a trend, this function has grown dramatically. Oversight of multiple outsourced operational processes has meant the skill set for candidates has become increasingly more technical. Brexit has seen offshore hubs growing. Demand for offshore domiciled funds experience (Lux/Ireland/Cayman Islands etc.) has become a niche skill. Hiring challenges exist as many candidates in this space wanting to progress into a more client focused role.  
  • Product Management / Development / Fund Launch - one of the busiest for us! Very competitive and niche skill sets. Clients have paid higher premiums for contractors because of the short fall of permanent candidates. These are complex hiring requirements because of specific asset class knowledge demand (Real Estate being one of those). But also because of increased demand in this space and the increased need for regulatory knowledge. Project management skills are particularly sort in this function.


  • The efficiency gap. The recent Funds Europe and Calstone survey has revealed that the middle and back office is falling behind when it comes to operational efficiency and technology. Martin Gilbert, Standard Life Aberdeen’s Chief Executive Officer stated: “From the investment management part onwards, the industry is pretty inefficient and that is where we’ll see the most change over the next ten years”.
  • A widely held view is that technology will assist the middle and back office to become more efficient. According to Funds Europe, this technology gap is partly due to a lack of collaboration between industry sectors including asset managers and asset servicers etc. The moral of this story is that is it strength in numbers.
  • Ocean is seeing a number of investment technology firms recruit more middle office specialists as part of their product development and expansion plans. Firms are eager to find more efficient and cost effective solutions and are investing into developing innovative solutions within this space.
  • Big news! State Street to acquire Charles River Development for $2.6 Billion in a deal that will complement State Street’s existing back, middle and front office capabilities to enable the first global front-to-back serving platform.


  • Diversity is increasing important in the front to back office. Some asset owners and fund managers are developing practical programs to address the diversity problem and tie increased diversity to better outcomes within their teams. 
  • Colonial First State Global Asset Management has investment management operations in the UK that have adopted such policies as gender-balanced shortlists. Name-blind CVs have been piloted in parts of the business and that will be extended more widely in 2018.
  • Health and community services-focused industry super fund HESTA is cracking down on poor diversity. Announcing a survey to assess gender diversity within investment management.

Our Event: ‘Disruptive Technology & Innovation within Asset Management’ with PwC

In this year’s PwC’s CEO survey, 69% of UK CEOs said that they believe emerging technologies – such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotics — will disrupt their current business models in the next five years. So we asked PwC to collaborate on an event with us for the second year running. The session was led by David Moloney, Director - Innovation & Transformation and Elizabeth Stone, Partner - UK asset and wealth management leader.

PwC concluded by stating that “predicting the future is difficult, however it can help to imagine different possibilities”.  Their report is a useful model for tackling uncertainty and the unknown. It has six key messages for leaders:

1. Act now

2. Make no-regret moves

3. Make a bigger leap

4. Own the automation debate

5. Focus on people, not jobs

6. Build a clear narrative

Firms leading the way with the technology agenda appear to be Blackrock, Schroders and M&G Investments, all have technology centres of excellence.  Please contact us if you wish to receive the event paper.

Market Predictions

  1. An increase in off-shore hiring in response to the proliferation of domiciled funds.
  2. Continued increase in product development and fund launch requests.
  3. Oversight functions becoming more technical due to the regulatory complexities of off-shoring.

Click Here to keep track of the Middle Office & Investment Operations we recruit for.  



Clare Scott - Managing Director 

T: +44(0)2039098647

E: clare@theoceanpartnership.com


Craig Rumball - Associate Director, Middle Office & Investment Operations 

T: +44(0)2039098648

E: craig@theoceanpartnership.com


Alex Badeni - Principal Consultant, Middle Office & Investment Operations

T: +44(0)2039098642

E: alex@theoceanpartnership.com