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Exchange Street Christmas message

Twelve months ago I was penning my annual Christmas message at the tail end of a difficult year and here I am again, 365 days later, writing something similar. For many however 2009 has been even tougher. Redundancies picked up across the year for IFAs, administrators and paraplanners, with the job market shrinking as well. This was of course to be expected, we were experiencing a major recession that was bound to have adverse affects on both the number of consumers requiring advice and the number of opportunities for people within the industry. But being prepared didnít make life any easier.

Should we though allow ourselves to become more optimistic? Dare we? On the positive side markets are cyclical and our economy seems to be through the worst, so IFA jobs and paraplanning jobs should start to appear in the vacancy listings more often. This has started to happen on the technical support side, as alluded to in previous market comments, but sustained evidence of a recovery in the amount of IFA vacancies is somewhat harder to find.

But what are we if without hope? We certainly donít expect a return to normality any time soon but the general consensus seems to point towards a better time ahead, with recent figures regarding the London financial services market pointing to an upturn. New job opportunities rose 15% in October 2009 compared to September 2009, although this is still 19% down on 2008 figures for new jobs and 23% down on new candidates. Whilst demonstrating we have some way to go, the upside means that there is plenty of growth left to get anywhere close to the figures of 2006 and 2007.

Of particular interest for the New Year and the financial services job market will be what further affects will be seen ahead of the Retail Distribution Review. Whilst some may be hoping for a change in administration (the Conservatives have publically expressed concern at the timeframes involved for the achievement of level 4 qualifications and the role of the FSA) it seems as though the smart money is on the bulk of the proposals staying in place. We have written previously about how IFA jobs and paraplanning vacancies are increasingly qualification focused and with the potential loss of thousands of financial advisers in the next two years it will be very interesting to see what opportunities might be forthcoming for IFAs in the future. We have gone through far too much in 2008 and 2009 to know for certain, but it does seem as though it will be a continuing period of change for those advisers seeking IFA jobs, or technical support individuals after new paraplanner jobs.

All that is left for me to say is that as we have done over the past year, Exchange Street will continue to work with financial services professionals to help them achieve their career ambitions. One of the major aspects of our work in recent times has been about managing expectations and speaking with individuals about what the market wants from them which is something we will carry on doing in 2010, when we will hopefully see an increasingly brighter outlook.

Have a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

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Thank you for all of your help over the last 3 months. Your knowledge of the current job market has been invaluable. It has been refreshing to deal with someone who understands the financial services market and actually listens to what candidates are looking for. I will not hesitate to refer anybody to you for consideration.

David - IFA, Cheshire