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The finance jobs immune to COVID-19

If there's a candidate with a skillset that can be sold into multiple employers in multiple sectors in late 2020, irrespective of COVID-19, it is the person with an elite education in data science and proven experience of extracting monetizable insights from real world datasets.  As a recruiter, if you can find one, it is tantamount to hitting the jackpot. As a candidate who fits this description, you have the pick of employers. 

"Data scientists are everywhere in finance," says Natalie Basiratpour. "Not just in the front office supporting trading and research, but across areas like HR too. Data is created for every single decision that's made in the world and data scientists are needed to analyze that." 

Not all data scientists are made the same. The latest data science salary survey from recruitment firm Harnham puts entry level data science salaries as low as £46k in the U.K. and $110k (for a data engineer) in the U.S.. By comparison, hedge funds can pay salaries as high as $200k - but only for alpha generating data scientists at the top of their field. 

Some of the most desirable data science jobs in finance are in artificial intelligence. JPMorgan in particular continues to hire in London, New York and the Bay area for its AI research team focused on cryptography and broader finance. Goldman Sachs founded an AI research and development team under chief data officer Neema Raphael in 2017 and runs a parallel AI research team under MD Jeremy Glick. Raphael, who is charged with building Goldman's data lake, is hiring. 

Private equity firms are also in the game. Apax Partners, for example, recently poached Angelique Augereau, head of data science for treasury services at JPMorgan to be its first ever chief data science and analytics officer. Augereau, who will presumably be building a team at Apax, says she's tasked with advising the fund's portfolio of around 50 mid cap companies on their, "data and analytics journey." Rival funds, like Cerberus, have been on a similar journey for years already and have hired heavily from banks to staff their data teams.

The flurry of data recruitment in finance has been accompanied by strong demand for data scientists in the consumer, tech, and consulting sectors too. Desirable candidates have ample opportunities for productive job hopping as a result. Daniel Lin, a former JPMorgan derivatives trader who left take a Masters degree in computational statistics, has worked for three different employers since 2017 in increasingly senior roles. Basiratpour says the most desirable data scientists are at Google or Microsoft, and are almost impossible to move. 

Oliver Blaydon, the head of advanced analytics and risk recruitment at search firm Armstrong International, says there's an inevitability to data science recruitment that means it's likely to remain robust throughout 2021. "It's one of the busiest parts of the market," says Blaydon. "Any bank or fund that has a hiring freeze will usually still be open to hiring in roles that involve data."

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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