Meet MERJE is a series of interviews with members of the MERJE team discussing their experiences of recruiting in their specialist market.
Meet Eleanore Sykes, a Consultant based in our Manchester office.
How long have you been at MERJE?
I started with MERJE five years ago in October 2012, and prior to that I worked within Credit Risk and Analytics recruitment for a larger business for six years. Before that position I ran a graduate intake programme for an insurance firm.
What kind of roles do you recruit for?
Credit Risk and Analytics are the main functions that I focus on, which covers everything from Heads of Credit Risk to Scorecard Builders, SAS Modellers, Policy Managers, and underwriters. This is predominantly in Financial Services but also increasingly across telecoms, utilities and consultancies.
How has the market changed during your time recruiting within it?
When I first started within Credit Risk 11 years ago, prior to the Credit Crunch, Candidates mainly wanted to work for a big bank and a big brand – a large, well established Financial Services business. There wasn’t a lot of choice other than some of the Building societies and a few other smaller FS businesses. But typically someone working at one bank, for instance Barclays, would ring me and say I want to work at another big bank , such as Lloyds. They were perceived as stable, well-known brands and there was lots of movement between them all, so from RBS to HSBC to Barclays and so forth.
After the financial crisis hit, a number of the Clients I worked with put all their recruitment on hold because they no longer had the budget. However the Credit Risk roles were needed, arguably more so, as it was these people who were predicting the risk of losses prior to the recession!
There was a period of re-adjustment, and whilst FS recruitment as a whole was static and not very buoyant, Credit Risk continued to be an area where Candidates were needed more than ever. What also changed is that some of the bigger players either retracted from the financial market or became less aggressive in certain areas, such as mortgages or loans. That left lots of opportunities for smaller organisations to enter the market , whether they be challenger banks or Building Societies looking for larger market share and it created a bigger variety of options for Credit Risk Candidates.
After lots of redundancies at big banks, who were under increased scrutiny, it wasn’t perceived as the best and only option to work for a big bank anymore. There was a lot more interest in a range of different organisations, which was exciting for me and for Candidates. At the same time now collections businesses were booming and there were lots of different payday and sub-prime companies wanting data analysis and Credit Risk knowledge. These organisations had become exciting places to work and offered something different – a faster pace, broader role and a flatter structure. It meant that I had a wider offering of roles across a broader range of businesses.
I guess my role has become more consultative now in that there are a lot more options for someone with that skillset, so talking to them about the advantages and disadvantages of going to work for a payday lender, consultancy or one of the expanding building societies or utilities companies. It’s not as black and white as one analytics function is not as good as another, so knowing the different businesses and being open and honest about what they can offer.
What advice do you have for job seekers in the Credit Risk and Analytics markets?
Really think about where you want to take your career. Someone who has a couple of years’ experience in Credit Risk or Analytics will have multiple different routes they can take, but going down certain avenues can make it harder to come back the other way. So think very carefully about each move as you don’t necessarily need to go for the first thing that goes your way because you’ve got a skillset that is low in supply and high in demand. Also, think quite carefully about your technical knowledge and where you can get experience and exposure to different technical skills, for example SAS is something that the vast majority of my Clients would need but certain roles could involve you relying more heavily on SQL or Excel.
Consider breadth and depth – so if the aim is to be a senior person within Credit Risk across all portfolios, or across the full Credit Risk lifecycle Or do you want to have a really narrow but deep focus within an area and become a specialist, for instance just in collections or mortgages. Think about where you want to be and whether you need a breadth of knowledge and experience.
After having worked at a number of different places, this is the one company where I honestly look forward to coming to work. Not just because I enjoy my job, but also because I enjoy spending time with the people who work here. Not to sound too cheesy, but it is much better when the day goes quickly because you are enjoying it rather than having a job where you’re sitting there clock watching.
For a Candidate, MERJE has a certain level of integrity and morals and we act like we would act if we were finding a job for a friend. It’s not just about the money to us, we realise there is no point in a quick buck. It’s about building long term relationships.
And for Clients, because of the sheer level of service that you get when you deal with specialists. That word is banded about but we genuinely are. Any new Consultants or Resourcers that join MERJE are recruited under the wing of someone who has over ten years of experience in their market, so when we say specialist, we really mean it. We don’t go for easy wins, and when we get a job we fill it. The people in this company are determined to offer that level of service. The Client base, growth and success we have shown in the last five years is testament to that!
To contact Ellie to discuss your recruitment or career needs in Credit Risk & Analytics, please call 0161 883 2750 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.