Market Update – September 2021

MARKET UPDATE | An insight from Virtue's Director, Chris Heswall, into some of the trends/changes within the financial services and jobs market and how the market is adapting to the current climate.

September 2021

Over the past 12 months, we’ve been “living life almost normal” so it’s been a tough reality check to live life again, with the restrictions of another level 4 lockdown (now officially our longest yet)

For Virtue, we are working from home, focused on helping good people find jobs and good employers find people! Our world inside the hiring market is often an early indicator around changes in business confidence, so during lockdown I’m often asked how busy we are, and what is the market doing. Here are a few of my observations thus far:

·        Business confidence across most of our clients, within the banking and financial services sector, remains positive. Although, some pockets are starting to slow down as the lockdown continues and the effects become more cumulative.

·        There is more certainty around achieving business outcomes this lockdown, as most people/companies have effective WFH models and have a “been there/done that” approach.

·        However, WFH isn’t always an ideal solution or sustainable option, for companies and employees who enjoy or need team driven and socially interactive cultures.

·        General opinion seems to be, a balance of 3 days in the office and 2 days WFH is an ideal mix.

·        We’ve filled significant vacancies over the past 5 weeks as employers understand that hiring great people now, will help them achieve growth goals on the other side of any lockdown/s.

·        Candidates respect employer’s who are confident enough to continue hiring during lockdown and are accepting positive offers, with increased confidence around job security

·        Candidates with specialised skills/experience have become far more employable and are commanding premium remuneration. Whereas, candidates with generic expertise or lower skill levels, are now facing the opposite effect. Thus widening the employability gap between a great candidate and the average .

·        There is increased pressure on adjusting salary caps and keeping within sustainable remuneration bands, in order to attract and hire top talent in the open market

·        Many candidates are receiving 25% – 35% pay-rises when changing employers to maximise their IP

·        Counteroffers, to retain staff or attract new candidates, are erupting between some employers; with some candidates open to auctioning themselves off to the highest bidder. Thankfully, others are showing more integrity and strategic thinking- choosing the best long-term career opportunity. (grateful for this as I’ve never wanted to work in Real Estate!)

·        Zoom or Teams VC’s have again become the norm around meet/greet for candidates and clients, making hiring decisions and on-boarding new staff more collaborative and interactive.

·        As the lockdown drags on in Auckland, some people are beginning to wonder if they will have to WFH right through until Christmas – particularly if their employer workplace policy is to predominantly WFH under Level 3 or Level 2.

·        Further extensions to the lockdown could create anxiety and mental health issues, therefor changing some of the positives achieved during the lockdown thus far.

·        Employers are now actively checking WFH staff are feeling “ok”. This is especially important for those living alone, in small bubbles, or the opposite; those trying to blend work around young children, home schooling or large families. Empathetic leadership combined with a proactive HR team has never been more important.

It’s easy to generalize and some points above may or may not apply to experiences within your world so far, either as an employer or employee. As with many things, there is no one size/situation common to all.

If you’d like any further information on any points made, please feel free to give me a call or send an email

Meanwhile, we’re now into spring and almost into the last quarter before Xmas!  Let’s double down for one more big effort and look forward to a well-earned summer break, hopefully with plenty of sunshine.

Chris Heswall | Director | Virtue Consulting