We catch up over a coffee with Alex Wright, who heads up our finance, accounting and banking recruitment division at Spinnaker Global.
Tell us about your specialism here at Spinnaker.
AW: I specialise in placing ship finance and accountancy professionals within maritime and related businesses. I have built a vast international network of candidates from graduate to CFO level, most recently successfully placing roles in Miami, Singapore, London and Dubai.
The eternal question… how’s the market at the moment?
AW: Shipping is a cyclical market, so there will always be a demand for ship finance specialists. A lot of my clients entering the market are taking a conservative approach, which is understandable in high risk business but there is definitely movement. We’ve seen both exits and new players, specifically clients specialising in alternative financing which I expect to continue throughout 2018. The Chinese leasing sector is growing, cruise is still booming, I’ve seen an increase in financial and accountancy roles as a whole over the past two years and there are some strong candidates in the market. It’s key in this market for clients to be more competitive to attract and retain top talent.
Are you finding that there are certain candidates who are hard to find?
AW: We definitely see a gap in the market of newly qualified (ACA/CIMA) professionals with sole maritime experience. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of movement at this level as clients are keen to retain staff and maintain stable financial depts. However, given how transferable skills can be within this sector, in some areas clients will relax on the industry experience and consider related industries or strong corporate backgrounds. We’re seeing an increase in cross-functional roles, employers expectations are rising and I find a lot of our senior roles combine traditional and commercial tasks. There is certainly a demand for professionals with a diverse employment and educational backgrounds, as it shows they are adaptable, which is key in this sector. See our Chief Risk Officer role for example.
What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve achieved at Spinnaker?
AW: I’ve done a significant amount of international travel over the past three years and have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of inspirational people in this industry, clients and candidates alike. I find a lot of my day to day job rewarding: doing my utmost to build relationships and put key players into my clients' businesses is reward enough!
What do you see as trends and insights for 2018?
AW: The Spinnaker team have seen a huge increase last year on the executive search front. I think this will continue to increase as we see more companies re-structuring their leadership teams. My new colleague Jon Chaplin will be heading this division and we expect even more exciting opportunities due to market improvement and client growth.
Tell us about your top positions you’re working on at the moment.
AW: I am working all hours at the moment! From Singapore to the USA! We have just taken on a really interesting Senior Strategy Analyst role for a ship-owner based in Connecticut. With a fantastic mentor in place this is the perfect opportunity for a highly analytical individual with a passion for the maritime sector. We also have a lot of senior level Financial Controller openings in London, Ireland and Canada and a couple of CFO openings across Europe coming up this quarter so it’s all hands on deck for the finance team here!
Alex Wright, Consultant, Spinnaker Global