2016 Professional hiring index: Growth predictions for new financial services roles in London and the South East

This latest Professional Hiring Index provides insights into hiring trends in London and the South East

  • Nearly two thirds (64%) of financial services executives in London and the South East predict an increase in new roles in H1 2016
  • Almost all financial services executives (99%) surveyed say that it is either very or somewhat challenging to find skilled financial services professionals
  • Almost six-in-10 (58%) of CFOs in the region predict increase in finance and accounting roles will be driven by new projects and initiatives

LONDON, 25 January 2016 – The latest Professional Hiring Index1 (‘the index’) from Robert Half UK reveals that senior C-suite executives across UK companies plan to increase staff levels significantly over the first half of 2016. An average 63% of senior executives leading finance teams across UK industries, as well as financial services executives predict that they will create new jobs in the next six months. This total is five points higher than the UK average predicted growth, reflecting the importance of London and the South East to the financial services sector as well as professional finance and accounting employment.

The index demonstrates that growth will be particularly strong in the financial services industry, with nearly two thirds of C-suite executives (64%) saying that they will increase their headcount in the first half of the year. This forecast shows that the industry is set to continue moving on an upward trajectory throughout the course of 2016. Indeed of those surveyed, 96% of senior financial services executives claimed they were confident in their business growth prospects next year.

UK C-suite executives in London and the South East were asked, ‘What are your company's hiring plans for permanent finance professionals in the first half of 2016? Would you say you are:’

H1 2016

Finance Executives (ALL)

Financial Services Executives

Accountancy & Finance Executives

Expanding – Adding new positions




Maintaining – Only filling vacated positions




Freezing – Not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones




Reducing – Eliminating positions





*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding

Source: Robert Half, 2016

According to almost all of the senior financial services executives surveyed (99%), finding the right professionals continues to be a challenge mainly due to a shortage of niche, technical experts (45%) and general demand outweighing supply (31%).  More than eight in 10 (85%) also stated that they are very or somewhat concerned about losing their top performers to other job opportunities this year.

Additional hiring will predominantly occur in the accounting and finance teams (63%), operations support (59%) and new business development teams (46%). Professionals will also be hired to help with risk (35%) and compliance (31%). This is as a result of the fact that the top three reasons for increasing financial services teams were given as new projects and initiatives (54%), domestic business growth or expansion (44%) and new market penetration (44%).

Accountancy and finance hiring

Growth continues to be on the agenda for finance and accounting leaders, with 85% of CFOs and FDs in the region stating they are confident with their company’s growth prospects. Consequently, when it comes to hiring trends, the proportion of CFOs in London and the South East who say they will expand their teams in the first half of 2016 is now 60%, compared to a UK average of 56%.

Adding extra headcount is the result of several factors with the most common being new projects and initiatives (58%). This was followed by new market penetration (50%), product or service expansion (38%) and domestic and international business expansion (33% and 42% respectively).

However, despite the best intentions of UK CFOs and FDs, hiring may prove to be difficult as 98% (compared to an average 90% across the UK) of respondents in the region stated it is very or somewhat challenging to find skilled professionals.  Interestingly, the most difficult to fill roles in the region are predicted to be payroll (25%) and financial planning and analysis (23%) rather than compliance, identified as the top difficult skillset to hire on average across the UK. Similarly to C-suite executives in financial services, CFOs and FDs in finance and accounting state a lack of niche, technical experts (43%) as the main barrier to their hiring plans.

Matt Weston, Director, Robert Half UK said: “As one of the world’s most successful financial centres, London and the South East continues to create growth and opportunity for the financial services sector and professionals who wish to build a career in the region. Senior executives across the board are confident about their growth plans for 2016 and are actively seeking skilled professionals to add to their headcount. The challenge for businesses in London and the South East is that this growth will not only drive up salaries but will also fuel the ever growing war for talent.

“As demand for employees increases the available talent pipeline will continue to shrink. We therefore advise companies in London and the South East to act quickly if they find a candidate with the right skill set and commercial acumen.  The best way to remain competitive in the hiring process is to ensure salaries are benchmarked and your existing employees are looked after – either by offering additional perks such as flexible working, or by hiring temporary resources to help ease the pressure of workloads”.


Notes to editors

1 The annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 300 interviews with senior finance executives from companies across the UK, with the results segmented by size, sector and geographic location.

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.