The Hiring Demands Of Public Finance In 2020 & 2021

Here are the trends of public finance in 2020 and the expectations for 2021.

As 2020 slowly (and I mean slowly) comes to an end, to say this is a year like no other year is an understatement.  So many negative things to discuss, but not here.  I want to end the year with a look back at the recruiting needs of our public finance industry.  In a few words, they were off the charts.  Who would have thought that this would have been such a positive year for all of public finance in 2020?  Actually, I would have.  Let me share my perspective on why I said this as well as what the future looks like for 2021 in public finance as a whole.

The New Year Of 2020

2020 began with calls within the first week by our represented firms, but also by firms that we have not had the pleasure of working with previously.  All with the same request, “Get us bond counsels and senior public finance bankers.”  Where did this come from?  First of all, many firms started to look at their aging senior members and the banks that we work with. They realized that over the next 3-5 years that they were going to be retiring with no-heir apparent in the wings.  The first wakeup calls for public finance in 2020.  The second had to do with the amount of issuance that occurred in 2019.  Again, this number was off the charts, which is quite unusual as we lost one of the most prolific products the year before – advanced refunding.  What was the reason for the increased issuance? It was the taxable products that filled this void.

The Start Of COVID-19 Within Public Finance In 2020

As COVID-19 started to spread its ugly wings, the firms started realizing that there were going to be new public financing opportunities caused by the rapid spread of the virus.  Health care was going to need funding as well as the infrastructure needed to corral in the virus.  As for traditional infrastructure, the current administration was going to be focusing on that as well, which would have yielded more public financing opportunities.  Local governments were going to have to find a way to fund their shortfalls in tax revenue as businesses were closing, and real estate was not being purchased for new construction – residential or commercial.  Again, this need could be addressed through the bond market.  This is the increased issuance for public finance in 2020.

An Increase In Hiring Demands For Public Finance In 2020

Firms saw this occurring and increased their hiring demands for this year as well as the next three to five years at a minimum.  In our industry, as you are well aware, a new banker or bond counsel usually has a ramp-up period of anywhere between twelve to twenty-four months.  As interest rates are remaining low, issuance needs are more prevalent. Firms went to the marketplace to attain senior level bankers and attorneys in record numbers this year.  Our typical number of new hires was almost double the previous year. This is consistent with other recruiting firms with public finance in 2020 and across all industries throughout the United States.  I am not saying that some firms were not hurt because of the virus; however, the firms that repositioned themselves did well this year.

Our Future In 2021

What does 2021 look like for our cottage industry? More of the same as public finance in 2020?  Both public finance banks and law firms are still seeing the void that needs to be filled with senior personnel.  More importantly, there are many bankers and attorneys who are re-evaluating their current situation vis a vis how they were treated during 2020 (and open for serious “quiet” conversations with the right team).  I am also predicting after 2020 bonuses are distributed, we will again see an increase in hiring for 2021.  This is because of the new administration’s focus on healthcare reform, infrastructure needs throughout the United States and local municipalities, and education facilities needing to address their shortfalls. 

Wishing everyone a very healthy and happy New Year! A time where we can hopefully all put our arms around our loved ones again, be able to sneeze in public without feeling guilty and get on planes again to see our clients.  Thank you all for being loyal readers and followers this past year and in the future.  


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs so you never miss one. 

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.