Legal recruitment Consultants

Sniffing out the trends in the ISDA world.

Sniffing out the trends in the ISDA world.

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From a recruiter’s perspective, 2018 was another unpredictable but active year. In early 2018, we saw a significant increase in temporary recruitment of negotiators, at all levels, to either manage regulatory projects or to simply fill in the gap in BAU work. This demand, combined with the limited pool of candidates in the market, particularly at the senior level, resulted in many negotiators commanding rates of up to £700 per day, vs. the traditional cap of £550.

We saw negotiators making a conscious decision to leave permanent roles because of the financial remuneration and the flexibility in working patterns that contracting offers. This was especially evident amongst junior negotiators, where the decision was largely financially motivated, and represented a change to the normal pattern of candidate behaviour we have seen over the last decade in the trading documentation market.

In comparison to 2018, 2019 has been much quieter on both the interim and permanent recruitment side. Teams are busy but with a lack of regulatory projects coming off the ground and recruitment freezes/cautiousness due to the uncertainty around Brexit, additional hiring seems to have slowed down since the beginning of 2019 particularly in the banks. We have also seen a couple of banks expanding their outsourced hubs which has impacted the level of recruitment.

The asset management sector seems to have presented more opportunities for negotiators in 2019 which is unusual to previous years, but certainly not in the volume that you would expect in the banking sector. In the last decade, we have naturally seen periods

where recruitment has slowed down in the trading documentation world. However, on this occasion it is difficult to estimate how long this will last in light of the political turmoil we are in with Brexit.

Where has the majority of the recruitment taken place?

Whilst over the last few years, most recruitment has come from the large investment banks; we experienced a considerable level of recruitment from the small and mid-sized European investment and corporate banks, as well as the Asian banks. This increase was attributable to senior individuals in these teams making a move after a number of years there into the sell side, broader legal roles or into a consultancy role. We have also seen more trading documentation recruitment within the asset management sector in 018/2019 as discussed above which is positive. When recruitment does pick up again, we expect this trend to continue, particularly as the pool of derivatives lawyers available in the market remains small.


There have been slight increases to daily rates and basic salaries since 2017 but this has been more on the junior side due to many banks recruiting NQs or junior qualified lawyers from top-tier law firms, rather than training-up paralegals which we have seen more of in previous years. This has been driven by a preference for qualified lawyers for a combination of reasons including regulatory changes and needing the technical background to manage the more bespoke agreements whilst the offshore hubs manage the vanilla agreements.

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