news | 07 May 2014

CIFA Newsletter article

Donna Stephenson, Founder and Director of GRS Global Recruitment Solutions in Cyprus, addresses the issue of talent planning challenges that lie ahead in Cyprus’s efforts to become a renowned centre for all asset classes of funds and fund managers.

In the last couple of years the number of funds registered in Cyprus has doubled to around 100 with a further 30-40 funds awaiting registration and licensing. Key industry experts from the fund management sector in Cyprus forecast that this number will further increase and anticipate the numbers reaching around 200 this year.  In comparison looking at a similar jurisdiction – Malta, where currently over 400 investment service licenses have been issued, it is clear that Cyprus has some way to go to increase the number of funds registered in comparison to mature jurisdictions such as Luxembourg. The outlook however is positive, new legislation and favourable conditions for the attraction of funds to Cyprus is a step in the right direction to position Cyprus as an attractive option and a player within the global investment funds industry. 

Although the sector is in its infancy, the challenge for Cyprus as the sector develops is to supply local, qualified employees to a growing fund management sector. As with the Forex sector in Cyprus and most recently the Binary Options sector in Cyprus, the favourable conditions and licensing through CySec has attracted an influx of Retail FX trading firms with many big industry names finding it useful to position themselves in Cyprus. This sectors local demand for talent has been huge. According to Global Recruitment Solutions, the Cyprus based leading recruitment and payroll consultancy’s survey of Cyprus, 50% of the placements made during 2013 were in the Forex, Binary Options and Cyprus Investment Firms (CIF) sectors, an increase on the survey data of 2012 where this figure was at 37%. The graph illustrates the growth of job placements since 2010. These employees were recruited locally from Cyprus and other EU countries.

"The above statistics are compiled using data based on the number of permanent job placements made by GRS in Cyprus during 2010 - 2013 and do not necessarily reflect a complete overview of the Cyprus recruitment and labor market."

Interestingly, this hiring growth could well be mirrored within the Cyprus funds sector, creating new jobs and new career opportunities for local residents of Cyprus in such areas of fund administration, valuation, accounting, portfolio management, and fund incorporation.

In recent years the growth of the fund management sector has been steady, as a result, there has not been an overwhelming demand for recruiting this expertise to the sector. Yet the demand for talent to the sector will increase exponentially as Cyprus succeeds at attracting and increasing the number of funds operating from Cyprus. The talent available in Cyprus will be key to the overall positioning of Cyprus for attracting companies and furthermore supporting the talent needs of these companies with local, qualified and experienced individuals.

Currently the supply of local talent that has experience or exposure to the fund management sector is limited in Cyprus. Yet, the raw material exists. Cyprus boasts a highly skilled workforce, fluent in English with most Cypriots holding degrees and masters from overseas Universities. This local talent has for many years entered the professions on their return to Cyprus with a high percentage commencing their careers within the local accounting and legal sectors. As a result, there exists a surplus of qualified accounting, legal and corporate servicing staff, albeit with no substantial investment fund expertise due to the infancy of the local funds sector but ready for training and development to meet the recruitment needs of the sector in the first instance.

As the sector grows, demand for talent will naturally increase and we may see the mobility of talent coming into the Cyprus fund industry from other fund jurisdictions such as the relatively new Malta fund jurisdiction or the more mature Luxembourg jurisdiction, where individuals have gained substantial experience working for international firms active in the funds sector and have gained experience in dealing with international funds and managers. Cyprus is an attractive location for the migration of talent with its sunny Mediterranean climate, low taxation and general good quality of life.  On the other hand, the Cyprus funds industry at its current state of immaturity may not require such experienced talent from other mature jurisdictions and the provision of home grown talent may at this stage be satisfactory.

International firms operating in the funds sector and present in Cyprus may increase the knowledge of locally recruited employees by seconding  them to their overseas offices in more mature jurisdictions to gain knowledge and an insight as well as exposure to the fund sector in a more mature jurisdiction.  This experience, if available, would be valuable for any employee but it may not be an option for all firms.

In preparation for a steady growth of the Cyprus funds sector, associations such as CIFA, CIPA and educational establishments are already placing talent planning on the agenda. It is important to promote careers within the fund sector at a local level as well as raise the awareness locally that despite the events of March 2013 in the banking sector, the financial services sector, and specifically the funds industry, provides opportunity and great prospects of economic growth for Cyprus. For example, it is not widely known that the funds sector in Cyprus is one of the fastest growing investment fund centres in Europe. Unfortunately due to the banking crisis there is negative sentiment in the finance sector and through various seminars and promotion of Cyprus as a fund centre, interest from individuals such as the graduates will be aroused and attracted to entering the funds sector. As the sector evolves more will be done through Universities and other academic and private institutions to raise the awareness and promote careers within the fund sector to support the recruiting needs of the Cyprus funds sector.

Training and development for local talent for examplein Malta, the Malta Finance Organisation states that skilled staff is provided by the Universities and other Academic and private institutions train students at all levels according to what is required to satisfy the demand of the funds sector. Various courses are offered to students in Malta to train students and employees equipping locals with the required knowledge to service the funds sector. 

Steps are already being taken to address the talent needs of the fund industry. Fund management professionals in Cyprus agree that Cyprus needs to identify and establish, as well as partner with overseas educational bodies to create professional qualifications and training programs at a local level to create courses specific to the fund industry. According to fund management experts in Cyprus, the needs of the fund management sector will for example require accountants with fund expertise. There will be additional demands for skills in client relations, valuation verification, risk and liquidity reporting, business analysts and so on. 

In summary, the talent pool currently available may not be enough to satisfy the demand for talent from a high influx of fund management firms, yet with accredited training and professional qualifications available for the up-skilling of local professionals and with the right steps promoting careers within the fund sector, Cyprus will have the necessary infrastructure to support the talent needs of a fund industry as it surpass its infancy and develops into a fund centre.

Donna Stephenson, Founder and Director of GRS Global Recruitment Solutions, the Leading Recruitment and Payroll consultancy in Cyprus. Donna graduated with a BSc degree in Business and Telecommunications and commenced her recruiting career with a global specialist recruitment plc in the UK. Donna relocated from the UK to Cyprus in 2003 where she managed a team of recruiters for an international consultancy. Donna along with her co-founder Steve Slocombe established GRS in January 2005 with over a decade of presence and experience in Cyprus and with additional offices in Malta and the UK, the GRS expertise in the provision of Recruitment, Payroll, HR and Outplacements services is un-paralleled. Working to the highest levels of confidentiality and ethical business practice, GRS has become the largest Recruitment Agency in Cyprus with the most Consultants and the largest recruitment database.


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