After massive banking job drops, some segments on the rise
By Ryan Kelly
The banking industry in South Florida is seeing job demand grow in some areas but drop in others as a result of services demand and a slow-moving economy.
"We have real choppy waters," said Dennis Nason, chairman and chief executive officer of Nason & Nason, a banking and financial recruitment firm based in Coral Gables. "When you have as much turmoil as we have in the market, everybody gets a little nervous…. You have some pockets that are hiring, and you have some pockets that are shrinking very fast."
Financial jobs as a whole have declined in Miami-Dade County to 62,500 in June from the all-time high of 75,800 in December 2006, a drop of more than 17% in less than five years, according to figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that number includes more than bankers, banking makes up a large slice of the financial industry.
Among the areas shrinking is the need for international bankers, Mr. Nason said. Legislation that he said re-directs international banks away from South Florida has several of them closing or thinking about closing offices in the region.
The Internal Revenue Service proposed a regulation that would require American financial institutions to report interest paid to foreigners who hold accounts in the country.
This is a front-running concern of many banking industry leaders, especially in South Florida, who say the proposed regulation could pull $60 billion or more out of South Florida's economy.
"It's a horrific idea," said Alex Sanchez, president and chief executive officer at Florida Bankers Association.
Before hiring can truly pace up in the industry, Mr. Sanchez said, banks and other financial institutions must weather the economic storm, but regulations that could lead foreign accountholders to pull their money from the region's banks will only set job prospects back.
"Generally speaking, expansion is not in the cards for banks right now," Mr. Sanchez said, adding that most banks are focused on helping their clients get through the tough economic times.
"Our main priority is helping customers get through this recession," he said.
The private sector is being hit most heavily with job loss.
"People in the private sector are being laid off and those jobs are not going to be replaced," Mr. Nason said.
Not all is doom and gloom, as pockets of the banking industry enter the hiring mode.
Sectors adding jobs include commercial lending, residential real estate, trade finance and wealth management for private companies, Mr. Nason listed.
Regional banks and smaller banks are doing a lot of the hiring, he said, especially in the commercial sector.
"We're seeing a little more movement on the commercial lending side," said Ross Paskow, a senior recruiter for Stephen James Associates, an executive recruiting firm for the banking and finance industry.
Mr. Nason agreed: "They are hiring pretty deep."
Compliance jobs, or any jobs that imply control, are also in demand, he said.
"If you're an expert in compliance," he added, "you'll find you'll have job security…"
Money managers for private companies are also more important than ever, Mr. Nason noted.
"As you're managing a lot of money for these big corporations, even in banks, you need to be able to use better measuring tools and invest down to the last dollar," he said "How you invest in the market, it's a very difficult thing."
Because of the market volatility, demand is high for professionals capable of protecting the wealth of a company.
Many financial institutions are making their decisions on one- to two-year trends, Mr. Nason said, showing that companies aren't necessarily halting hiring plans because of the weaker economy.
"If you're adding a division," he said, "then you're going to just go ahead and add a division."
Even if certain banking sectors aren't hiring publicly, Mr. Paskow said, institutions rarely shy away from hiring experienced bankers.
"You have a lot of institutions that have weathered the storm over the past few years," he said. "They're really looking to grow. They're beefing up their hiring efforts."
South Florida has long been a stronghold of the banking industry, Mr. Nason noted.
"The domestic market in South Florida is very deep," he said, "and it's been that way for years."
To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.