Insights On The Public Finance Industry (From An Executive Recruiter)

The hiring practices and process trends today can tell you the future of the public finance industry.

The typical information I usually write about is the hiring practices and process for both candidates and hiring managers. Generally, I will give suggestions and ideas on how best to navigate the public finance employment path. However, today will be slightly different as I share what I believe are public finance insights regarding the industry in general. I do not proclaim to be an expert in this field, but as a student of this industry for over 30 years I believe my insight can be both thoughtful and provoking.

Indicator For The Industry & Hiring Practices and Process

When I was a public finance banker years ago, we had (which I still believe exists) a major indicator that would somewhat predict the bond market. As many of you know, it was known as the bellwether bond. Not to give my age away but at this time it was the 30-year treasury. I was always fascinated as to how the market could be predicted by watching this bellwether bond. Fast forward 25 plus years, and I believe the same concept is applicable to the hiring practices and process as to the future of our industry of public finance. The only difference is that the bellwether bond has changed, but the indication still seems to be working as it did 25 plus years ago. The bellwether bond that I use as a recruiter is the amount of activity in the bond counsel world.

Insights As A Recruiter

What I have found in the world of public finance recruiting is that if there is a lot of movement and activity in the bond counsel world, then public finance will be just as busy shortly thereafter. If I have firms looking for partners nationwide and calling us without us reaching out to them, that tells me that we are in an area of increased issuance for the entire public finance industry. As you are aware, the first person to get hired on a project is usually the bond counsel; thus, my using movement of bond counsel as an indicator that I can rely on. On January 2nd our phone was ringing off the hook with our existing clients as well as new clients. All looking for lateral partners as well as senior associates. This has translated into our best year in recruiting bond counsel and senior counsel. I don’t share this to tout about our business rather to answer the question.  That question that I am most often asked is, “What does the public finance industry and correspondingly the hiring market (i.e. hiring practices and process, trends, etc.) look like for the next three to five years?”

The Trends Of Today’s Hiring Practices And Process Can Predict The Future Of Our Industry

Fast forward six months into the year, and what happened in the bond counsel world now is what has happened and still occurring in the public finance world. Firms are actively looking at hiring senior individuals within the public finance space. Even firms that put us on hold due to COVID-19 have now started returning and asking us to fill positions for them. How does this balance out with the activity of RIF’ing that is out there? As I mentioned in previous blogs, I do not believe that this is a consolidation of our industry but more of an exchanging of seats. Those public finance bankers and attorneys that can continue to develop business on their own in this COVID-19 environment are in demand and replacing those that cannot. In my humble opinion I believe public finance hiring practices and process is going to be extremely busy over the next three to five years with market issuance continuing to expand.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out to me for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email me at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.