Adrian Wright knows what it is like to work in the banking industry: between 2000 and 2008 he worked in equity capital markets for the Rothschild joint venture with ABN AMRO in London and Sydney. He also knows what it’s like to walk away from a lucrative career: When the financial crisis hit, he quit banking and spent a year traveling through Africa and the Himalayas.
Wright also knows what it feels like to come back – but in a slightly different way.
Today, Wright is responsible for developing the investment banking business at Acuity Knowledge Partners, a company that provides advisory and support services to banking clients and buyers.
Banks are currently busy hiring to ease the pressure on their junior bankers, but Acuity recruiting is on a different scale. âAs a company, we have hired 500 people so far this year,â says Wright. “And we plan to hire an additional 1,200 people by the end of the year.” Acuity currently employs 3,500 people in total – so proportionately that’s a real expansion.
The new employees will not be in London or New York: Acuity staff are based overseas in India, Sri Lanka, China and Costa Rica. Their role is to âaugment and supportâ shore-based analysts and associates. âWe typically take care of things like databases, profiles, case studies, and comps, but we can also work across the value chain in complex modeling work,â says Wright. âWe help solve junior banker workload issues by taking over office and process related tasks so they can spend more time on higher value activities like client meetings,â and refining the presentation of equity.
In today’s climate, it’s easy to see why Acuity is hiring with such enthusiasm. âWe’ve been around for 19 years and just had a record quarter in terms of customer additions and growth,â says Wright. âOur clients are busy with mergers and acquisitions and the financial markets and there is now a more informed approach to dealing with young talent. No one wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for an analyst to work until 4 a.m. to update the comps. ”
Junior bankers who are fed up with late nights would definitely agree, expect one thing: to pay. Acuity backup bankers are far away cheaper than juniors currently sitting in London and New York. âWhen you factor in training, taxes, infrastructure and overhead, and look at the total costs of having an analyst or an onshore associate in London or New York, they can reach an average of $ 400,000 to $ 500,000 per person â. Wright said. “For these expenses, you can get five to eight people working overseas.”
The offshore analysts and associates come from top schools like Indian Institutes of Technology. They are then assigned to specific banks, for which they work exclusively. âAll of our employees have postgraduate degrees in finance and are either MBAs or CFAs or CAs,â says Wright. âWe are hiring a combination of onshore talent from top local business schools and people who have worked for investment banks in London and New York who want to return to India or Sri Lanka for family reasons. ”
There is a danger of long hours cultivation just be exported to offshore operations, but Wright says that’s not the case. – Capable Indians have no more appetite for working all day and night than capable Americans, and it is not necessary anyway. âWe provide a sun tracking model using our global delivery centers,â says Wright. Indians support banks operating in Europe and their own time zone. New York banks are supported from Costa Rica.
With a much cheaper alternative, maybe analysts and associates in London and New York should think twice before to complain about their working conditions? Wright offers some calming thoughts: âBanks will always want good onshore talent, and they recognize that they need to nurture and nurture that talent. We can play an important role in it. ”
In fact, he says the best in-house junior bankers are positively leveraging the capabilities of their offshore counterparts. âThe smartest juniors understand that we can support them in their work and help them move up the value chain faster.â This is fortunate, as it looks like there will be a lot more offshore support offered in the future.
Wright declined to comment on the banks Acuity works with, but offshoring has become relatively common over the past decade. Houlihan Lokey in particular has explicitly told his juniors that he will “expand the outsourcing efforts” as he tries to ease the pressure in the months to come.
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