With more than 17,000 people working for hundreds of firms in the funds industry in Ireland, the variety of roles and career paths open to people with an interest in working in the sector is truly vast. Here are five to think about.
Sometimes described as the rocket scientists of the funds industry, quants or quantitative analysts, are specialists who apply advanced mathematical and statistical methods to solve financial and risk management problems. They develop and run complex models used by firms to make decisions about issues such as investments, pricing, risk and so on.
They are mainly employed by investment banks and hedge funds but can also be found in commercial banks, insurance companies, investment advisory firms, as well as fintech firms.
The growing complexity of the financial markets has driven increased demand for these highly qualified professionals who blend mathematics, finance and computer skills to help companies improve profitability and reduce risk.
Quants who work directly with traders, providing them with pricing, trading and risk analysis tools, are sometimes referred to as front-office quants. These are the more highly paid but more stressful roles. Quants who work in the back office tend to be more involved in trading strategy research, risk management and model validation.
All financial institutions are required by law to constantly manage market, credit and other risks. The risk analyst’s job is to examine a firm’s investment portfolios and identify and analyse the potential risks that might threaten the success of organisation. They apply analytics to project potential losses and make recommendations on risk mitigation strategies including diversification and hedging. Their responsibilities include accurately predicting market trends and forecasting changes to the cost environment. They also make recommendations on precautionary measures and are involved in the formulation of contingency plans.
The risk analyst’s role has become increasingly specialised as their careers progress. For example, they can provide services tailored to meet the specific needs of different business functions including sales, product origination, trading, marketing, credit and regulatory affairs.
Qualified accountants needn’t restrict their career horizons to accountancy practices or financial administration roles in industry. The funds industry offers a wide range of opportunities including those for fund accountants.
Dublin is well established as a global hub for fund administration with most of the world’s leading operators based in the city. These companies all require fund accountants who are responsible for all aspects of day-to-day accounting for one or more of the funds under administration.
While an accountancy qualification is generally a necessity for these roles, employers also want to hire people with an interest in and flair for the funds industry with a desire to progress and carve out long-term careers in the area.
The industry is also quite segmented and accounting professionals are advised to build skillsets in areas like hedge funds and then play to that strength.
One of the major attractions of the funds industry for accounting professionals is the very well-defined career path for fund accountants. It is not unusual to find fund accountants being promoted to senior posts within two or three years of starting in the industry. Many find themselves quickly being appointed to senior management roles.
One of the most important roles in the funds industry is that of fund lawyer. The industry is governed by a web of complex legislation and regulations, and funds lawyers not only ensure compliance but also play a key role in obtaining the permissions and authorisations required for companies to operate.
Fund lawyers draft the various organisational documents necessary to establish an investment fund. These include private placement memorandums which set out the terms of the investment, minimum investor requirements, risk factors, the identity of the investment manager and the strategy to be employed by the fund. Setting up a fund requires significant tax and finance industry knowledge and expertise, and funds lawyers often find themselves work in teams alongside tax and finance professionals.
Fund lawyers also assist clients throughout the fundraising process. This work includes the preparation of offer materials and partnership agreements, advising on and documenting management and arrangements, and closing fund formation transactions. Beyond the activities related to the operation of specific funds, lawyers are also responsible for keeping the companies up to date with the constantly changing legal and regulatory environment.
Behind very successful investment and asset managers are the investment analysts who provide the research and information to help the traders, fund managers and stockbrokers make their investment decisions.
In some cases, the analysts work for investment management companies, providing information to in-house fund managers while in others they work for stockbrokers and investment banks, where their research is used by portfolio managers or clients who make their own investment decisions. Those clients can include banks, charities, high net worth individuals, pension funds and life insurance companies.
In the main, analysts provide insight into economic trends and evaluate the investment potential of different companies, sectors and geographies. They are adept and interpreting data from different sources and the impact it might have on investment outcomes. This data is gathered from company financial statements, market reports, economic and political reports. Analysts must also be capable of interpreting and forecasting the potential impact of events such as natural disasters, armed conflicts or political events on investment markets.