How to address talent acquisition and retention challenges in sell-side derivatives clearing space

Rick Steves

As the derivatives industry continues to compete for talent, firms prioritizing workforce and technology strategies are poised to emerge as leaders in the long run.


A recent study conducted by ION and Acuiti reveals significant challenges in hiring and retaining talent within the sell-side derivatives clearing businesses. Nearly half of the surveyed firms reported difficulties in attracting younger talent, with a notable increase in these challenges over the past five years.

The study, involving senior executives from 78 firms, highlights regional variations in these challenges. Asian respondents reported the highest difficulty in attracting talent, with 76% finding it significantly challenging. Regional banks, in particular, struggle most in attracting younger talent.

Retaining talent appears even more challenging, as 65% of respondents have found it harder to retain talent compared to five years ago. The report indicates that brokers face the biggest challenge in this area.

Almost half of the firms also reported a talent shortage in critical areas like clearing operations and margin management. This shortage is more pronounced than in other areas of the business.

Higher wages and better work-life balance in other sectors draw talent away from finance

The study also explores the factors contributing to these challenges. Higher wages and better work-life balance offered by other sectors, such as technology, pharmaceuticals, and energy, are drawing talent away from finance. The finance sector’s longer working hours and in-office requirements further exacerbate the issue.

In response to these challenges, over two-thirds of firms have increased wages specifically for talent attraction and retention. Additionally, nearly 50% of firms have shifted their focus towards automation and technology to mitigate the risk of staff shortages and key departures.

The most successful strategies reported by firms for retaining talent include hybrid working, increased pay, and improved work/life balance. Firms are also changing recruitment strategies, such as expanding the geographic reach of talent recruitment and increasing diversity in hires.

Despite these efforts, the study notes that most firms have not diversified the universities they attend for recruitment fairs or reduced the qualifications required for new hires.

Looking ahead, the study underscores the need for long-term workforce planning and investment. Firms are advised to expand recruitment pools and focus on retention strategies for the existing workforce, including greater flexibility for older workers and solo parents.

The report concludes that investment in technology is crucial, not just for reducing manual workloads and improving job satisfaction but also for building operational resilience and infrastructure fit for the future. As the derivatives industry continues to compete for talent, firms prioritizing workforce and technology strategies are poised to emerge as leaders in the long run.

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