The dearth of credit derivatives lawyers is leading to a feeding frenzy for talent within the financial services sector - but often the talent just doesn’t exist which means that the financial services sector needs urgently to look at transferable skills sets. That’s according to Ogetay Akman who heads up the legal recruitment practice at Twenty Professional Services.
“We have had a two year gap where virtually no business has been executed within the credit derivatives area, says Akman. “The global financial crisis meant that whole teams were culled and this had the knock on effect of legal firms no longer seconding lawyers to support the credit derivatives teams. The result has been a two year black hole where no new talent has been brought on for pipelining purposes.”
Akman says that now credit lines have, to some extent, been unblocked there is a rush to start building out legal teams again – particularly since the raft of new regulation around the systemic risk of complex products such as credit derivatives. Banks urgently need a focus on the assessment, management and implementation of the regulatory agenda as it relates to global markets. The problem is that the right experience is very thin on the ground.
“Financial institutions are looking to build out big teams and want relevant experience from either an investment bank or a private practice firm”, adds Akman. “Demand though is massively exceeding supply. Many of those who were made redundant during the credit crunch have branched out into other product areas or have chosen the interim route dealing with different product lines – and those that are still around with the right exposure are often just too senior for the available roles.”
Akman believes that the answer is to look at the transferable skills offered by ISDA specialists. “The supply and demand situation isn’t going to get any better and so it’s time to think outside the box a little. ISDA specialists often see their role initially as a stepping stone but then get pigeon holed and are discouraged from branching out. However, they will have had exposure to credit derivatives instruments including a detailed understanding of the associated documentation and will be experienced master agreement negotiators. If the banks are going to build out their teams within the time frames needed – as an option this is really a no brainer.”
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