Tick Tock Goes The Public Finance Firms Hiring Clock

How does time factor into the hiring process now with public finance firms? Here's what you need to know.

Hopefully, today’s blog can reassure candidates who are waiting for some action from the hiring managers. There seems to be a common pattern among public finance firms, whether they be investment banks, regional banks, boutiques, or large and small law firms.  What’s the pattern?  The common thread is no one is hiring quickly. Firms that were hiring faster last year are definitely hiring much slower this year. The purpose of writing about this topic is to let you know that you have to expect things to be moving much slower before offers are being tendered.

Surface-Level Reasons For Public Finance Firms Slowing Down

The reason for this slower process is that firms are just being much more cautious before extending offers. They are spending more time on the due diligence portion of the hiring process. They are being much more particular as to whom they want to offer a position. Even junior bankers, who were never interviewed by senior professionals or even members at the board level, are being asked in some cases to interview with these individuals. If you say you are originating a certain amount of moveable business, public finance firms want a very high comfort level; the dollar amount and deal flow you are suggesting are going to move with you indeed.

Undercurrent Reasons To Slower Hiring Processes With Public Finance Firms

I believe the reason for this slower pace is definitely a repercussion of the largest public finance firms exiting public finance itself at the beginning of the year. While one was expected for many years, the other was more unexpected, and it’s even rumored. I wouldn’t say I like that word, but there will still be another one or two that may follow suit. The number of bankers that have been displaced was more than the market was ready to absorb, but they have been to the greatest extent. That is now creating a gap that is being filled by the non-bulge brackets for some of the bulge bracket bankers to fill. With so many of these bankers around, who are usually not a fit for the smaller banks, it seems to me they are still tempted to take a look at the individuals who were reduced in force for one reason or another. So, the candidates that smaller banks and law firms were not traditionally courting are now, to some extent, being evaluated for fit. Most of them are not getting hired, but it’s still exciting to look at them.

Practice Practical Patience

Back to you, the wonderful candidates. I can share that the hiring process is and will occur – but not in the expected time you may be used to. Being patient seems to be the watchword for the day. Public finance firms do want to hire; there are no hiring freezes out there. They are just being much more particular before offers are being extended.  For that, all I can share is you must have more patience than usual, knowing that the clock is ticking. Hiring managers do want to hire, but it is just taking longer for final approvals.


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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 levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.