Salary is still king, but it is not the only factor in hiring people in the forex and crypto space in Cyprus.
With the sector competing to hire top talent — and to retain the ones they’ve got — Forex and Crypto firms in Cyprus are not just raising wages, but moving beyond just salary to attract and recruit top talent. The team at Emerald Zebra, a FinTech, Tech and Finance specialist recruitment agency in Cyprus give their insights.
Which jobs are the most in demand in the retail and institutional FX sector?
The roles that are most in demand within the FX space are Compliance/AML, Tech – Software Developers, Business Development/Account Management, Marketing and Dealers.
What are the hiring challenges?
Georgia Michaelides, Senior Recruiter at Emerald Zebra states that Compliance/AML candidates are high in demand. Given CySEC’s strict controls and possible fines for non compliance, and what is happening in the financial world in general, companies are actively assessing their compliance programs and enhancing them in order to meet all regulatory guidelines. The demand is higher than the supply of candidates. However, there are a lot of talented individuals working in this sector in Cyprus. As a result, I have seen companies increase their salaries in order to attract top talent and compete with other similar companies in the market.
Marie Pavlou, Senior Recruiter, Emerald Zebra states Technology is clearly evolving in the FX space, and companies want to create better products or even their own trading platforms. Yet, there is a lack of suitably qualified/experienced tech candidates actively seeking career moves to meet the demand, thus contributing to the rising salaries to attract passive candidates, those candidates that aren’t necessarily looking to change employer but might consider a move to realize a higher salary. For example, in 2020, salaries for a mid-level developer were around 40K – 45K EUR Gross/Year, now we regularly see packages between 50K – 70K EUR Gross/ Year.
Is there a sufficient supply of suitable candidates to meet demand?
Cyprus is a major financial centre. With a population of just over 1.2 million people, it is one of the smallest European countries, but its financial sector is one of the largest. There are more than 200 Forex brokers in Cyprus all seeking to expand their teams from the same talent pools. With just an 8% unemployment rate (September 2022 (LFS) and with all these demands for talent, we are definitely living in a candidate driven market. Clearly, candidates have plenty of choices when it comes to where they want to work. With so many options available to job seekers, their salary expectations are simply driven by the economics of demand and supply. Candidates are commanding higher salaries, and they also factor the culture of the company and its reputation as part of their decision-making process.
Has there been any significant movement in terms of salaries or remuneration packages over the last 12 months?
Cyprus Salary Data
Tech roles range from €35,000-€70,000 for developers; €30,000-50,000 for QA Engineers; €70/80,000-€120,000/130,000 for tech management/exec jobs such as CTO, CIO, HoPT.
Senior Dealers: €60,000-70,000. Dealers €30,000-45,000.
Marketing Officers/Content etc €25,000-€30,000, Marketing Managers €45,000-65,000 and CMO’s €65,000+
Finance Department: Officers €24,000-33,000; FC’s €55,000-70,000; CFO €70/80,000-€120/130,000.
Retention of Employees
Whilst salary is still king, the majority of employers have fixed their retention issues and now proudly boast shiny new offices, new management teams, plenty of training, coaching, well-being programs, signing on bonuses, lunch, refreshments, team socials and a great impact – hybrid or flexible working. This means that not only is there a great supply of crypto jobs and not enough candidates; the passive candidates are not easily tempted.
At Emerald Zebra’s tech recruiting division we search way beyond Cyprus for developers to try to meet the demand from the forex companies and fintech companies, many of which are continuing to open new tech roles and are utilising various attraction channels to attract and hire this talent. Due to the talent shortage in the market, not just in Cyprus, globally for tech positions, some employers are increasing their salary budgets, improving their benefits package, and most of them, providing relocation assistance and work visa sponsorship. As of January, this year, the Cyprus government has introduced new tax incentive schemes, third country work visas and spousal work visas to assist these companies to attract candidates to relocate to Cyprus for such job opportunities.
At Emerald Zebra, we consult with our clients on the salary ranges we see in the market versus the client’s budget. Very quickly we’re able to advise and present a short list of suitable candidates with a current price and/or price expectation for the candidate to make the career move. The rest is left to discussion, negotiation and budget availability. “Salary is king and we are working for more transparency in the job adverts to display the salary ranges”. said Donna Stephenson, Founder/CEO Emerald Zebra.
We have generally seen a mix in the candidate’s perception of start-ups in the sector, some seeing such move as an exciting and equitable move, to some considering such move to being too risky for them. Even though there is more opportunity and openness to explore and understand the start-up company and what it has to offer, many candidates are still risk averse when considering their career move to a start-up vs a well-established organisation in the sector. However, there have been a lot of start-ups in Cyprus recently, and we are starting to see a shift in candidates’ perception to being more welcoming of entertaining career prospects here. The success of many businesses that have chosen Cyprus for their branch or headquarters are adding a normalised feeling to the usual risk adverse candidate states Terri Neofitou, Country Director, Emerald Zebra
Work place flexibility and rising inflation
We think that rising salary expectations are linked to the short supply of skilled, experienced people v’s demand as well as rising inflation and not so much to do with the attractiveness and job creation in the industry at large. On the other hand, the new trend of working from home within a global context also adds some flexibility in candidate’s salary expectations. A candidate will often remark that they will consider a lower salary if it means other perks, such as not driving to work every day and living an improved work/life balance.
We are seeing candidates considering the value and stability in a new role more now than ever. There has to be a significant financial and overall package benefit to make a move to attract a candidate’s attention explain Terri Neofitou. In addition, though, we certainly receive more questions from the prospective candidate in their effort to research whether a prospective employer could be a sound and stable career move for them. For example, they’re asking “is it a new role due to success/expansion of the team?” or “is it replacement and why?”, plus a greater questioning of the job responsibilities and the company’s short and long term goals.
Sam Macaron, Senior Recruiter, Emerald Zebra adds that salaries have followed inflation, maybe not in a very formal and empirical way, but we can sense that candidates are much more aware and demanding when it comes to their salaries. They are aware that the cost of living is higher and therefore they are more eager to ask for higher salaries to make their career move equitable. The possibility to negotiate salaries in the hiring process is evident. For example, even if the job is interesting and they agree on everything else, a 200 euro or 400-euro difference in meeting the candidate’s salary expectation can make or break an agreement. Nowadays, it’s important for companies to have budget flexibility in order to attract the best talent.
How is the demand for talent in the Crypto space in Cyprus?
We think that the attractiveness of working at a crypto company has an edge that is competing for talent within the FX talent pool. We have spoken to candidates that have stated that they are actively seeking opportunities within the crypto jobs space, from software engineers to executive directors that want to head up a CySEC, licensed CASP (crypto-asset service provider). At the same time, we have spoken to candidates that are disillusioned by the crypto jobs space, especially with recent events portrayed in the media and would prefer not to explore such opportunities, stating that the unpredictability of where Crypto is going isn’t where they wish their employment to be.
“An employer that I spoke with recently stated that they feel that working in the crypto jobs space gives them more purpose in life than working for the FX industry and moreover, there are more grounds to learn something new every day.” Donna Stephenson
Marie Pavlou states that she often hears from candidates in the Crypto jobs sector that are receiving a combination of cash salary and crypto jobs salary for both technical and non-technical roles. For example, recent cases: a product owner receives €65,000 per annum + 10,000 per annum in crypto. HR Manager €3500 gross monthly + 1000 monthly crypto.
Clients of EZ operating in the crypto space stated that Crypto software engineers are exponentially more expensive than FX due to the complexity of the industry and sophistication needed. One of our clients stated that he has seen regular engineers seeking to find work in crypto companies as they pay above average salaries, usually up to 30% above market rate.
From our recent experience at Emerald Zebra we have placed software engineers in the Crypto jobs sector at way above the normal market price, confirming what our client has stated above.
Founder/CEO Emerald Zebra Bio
Donna Stephenson is the Founder and CEO of Emerald Zebra, a Finance, FinTech and Tech sector niche recruitment team based in Limassol, Cyprus. Donna has a 20 year track record of excellence as Founder (GRS, Fairfax Yeaman, FX Careers 2005-2018 – successful exits) and Director of several businesses within the recruiting and business outsourcing sectors in Cyprus.
Donna is from the UK and has lived in Cyprus since 2003. The Emerald Zebra team have celebrated their one year of operations. Its inception is in response to the ongoing attraction and facilitation of foreign direct investment in key economic areas in Cyprus, as well as the promotion of Cyprus as a world class financial investment and tech hub destination, where sourcing talented candidates from a talent pool of entry level to functional heads to c-suite and everything in between, is crucial for any business.
Donna has recruited to CySEC regulated firms including forex brokerages for the last 20 years and has been a regular speaker and exhibitor at various iFX Expo’s and other forex conferences over the years. She advises boards for corporate hiring, has served on hiring committees, HR committees and educational development groups (Cyprus Investment Funds Association (CIFA, HR/Training Committee), Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments, CISI, London/Cyprus).