Beyond the immediate impact on commodities supply chains, heightened geopolitical risks caused by the Russia-Ukraine war are redrawing the global trade map further following the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, despite high price volatility, participants continue to invest in talent to drive their transition to net-zero. If you have missed our Q2 22 Market Review, here are the key talent trends across HC Group’s practices in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific.
As examined in the Editorial Comment of HC Group’s freshly published Q2 22 Market Review, the United Arab Emirates is emerging as a one of the winners of the reshuffle of global trading hubs.
The way the UAE has arguably managed to turn recent geopolitical and market disruptions to its advantage does not come as a surprise. Over the past decades, there have been consistent efforts from its leaders to turn the seven-emirate federation into a leading investment and trading destination, as discussed in a recent HC Insider podcast here. From its office in Abu Dhabi, HC Group is seeing how much of a contender the country has become for long-established hubs like Singapore to attract companies and talent. In this context, it is not surprising either to see reports of Russian trading oil companies considering setting up new offices in the UAE to reduce their exposure to sanctions.
Liquid Fuels and Chemicals
The UAE, like other Middle East crude producers, is benefiting from shifting crude trade flows since sanctions have been imposed on Russian oil products sales. With many buyers from Asia and Europe having to find alternative sources, HC Group’s Liquid Fuels practice is seeing increased demand for traders with Middle East connections for optimal supply.
Further down the value chain, attractive refining margins are leading many refiners in the US to sophisticate their retail fuel and trading platforms, thus boosting their talent needs in this segment. This trend is also spurring more investment in renewable fuels in an otherwise buoyant talent biofuels market. In Asia for instance, HC Group continues to see sustained demand for biofuels feedstock talent amid growing momentum for sustainable aviation and marine fuels.
Gas, Power and Renewables
Despite soaring energy and commodity prices, low-carbon products remain a focal point for diverse participants. HC Group’s Gas, Power and Renewables practice in the US, Europe and Asia is seeing consistent demand for talent with experience in renewables, electricity, emissions certificates, and carbon from participants in energy, agriculture, and metals.
Unsurprisingly, the impact of the Ukraine war on global gas and LNG markets has increased talent demand considerably. Across all its offices, HC Group has seen utilities and producers upgrading their hiring requirements, both in terms of numbers and skillsets, as explored in a recent HC Insider article.
Metals and Mining
Sanctions against Russia, a major metals producer, have spurred higher needs for commercial and origination talent due to supply disruptions for key metals which are used for clean energy technologies. Supply disruptions due to the war and the Covid pandemic are especially forcing companies to set up their chartering and logistics capabilities too, driving talent demand on that front too.
Despite supply bottlenecks, ESG-driven initiatives remain very much on the agenda for many companies who have been on the look-out for senior-level individuals with strong leadership skills to lead these projects and internal transformations.
Agriculture and Nutrition
Supply issues and price inflation is hitting the agriculture and nutrition sector deeper, considering the role of Ukraine and Russia as major exporters of grain. The Ukraine crisis has also triggered a supply squeeze of essential crop nutrients for fertilizers. This has increased the need for teams to develop innovative origination and trading strategies through new trade routes and sourcing. Companies active in the biofuel sector are also facing potential supply issues as the ‘food versus fuel’ debate is intensifying in key countries.
Technology and Innovation
In Technology and Innovation, hiring demand remained driven by the ever-present need to sophisticate and upgrade trading and hedging activities in the face of unprecedented risks. The continued investment from hedge funds and banks in commodities because of higher prices is boosting the movement of trained commodities technologists in the market.
As for Corporate Functions, the push from a wide range of commodity market participants to set up or strengthen their trading capabilities in the United States and EMEA continues to support demand for risk and middle-office talent. The transformation of risk functions is increasing the need for quantitative skills in addition to market and risk knowledge. However, as is the case for legal and accounting functions, employers are facing a stark shortage of mid-level talent. This trend is set to worsen in the medium term if companies do not double down on development efforts or revise their compensation structure.