Financial career snapshot: Taking the industry’s temperature

Is the financial services still an attractive career option? Robert Half research finds the City is still attractive to new entrants.

London, 20 June 2014 – Despite the instability that the financial world has faced over the years, financial services executives still see the industry as a rewarding career with interesting work. With economic optimism prompting renewed job movement plus the end of the academic year bringing new entrants into the market, new analysis from specialist recruiter Robert Half UK shows the majority1 (88%) agree that the city is still an attractive career option.

More than half of financial services executives (57%) find the financial reward of working in the City most attractive, followed by career progression opportunities (16%) and interesting work (15%). Whilst four in 10 (39%) respondents believe its reputation that makes the financial services industry an unappealing career option, more than eight in 10 (87%) businesses have put factors in place to counteract this and improve their employer brand.

With the jobs market showing increased signs of buoyancy, businesses are putting effective measures in place to stay competitive and retain key employees. Almost half (48%) of UK businesses have implemented flexible working, rising to 64% of large companies. Remote working, (34%) and an improved work environment (28%) are next, with investment in corporate social responsibility at 26%. This ranks above an increase in compensation and benefits (24%), highlighting the importance of the employer brand as a tool to attract and retain staff.

Financial executives were asked: ‘What has your business done to improve the employer brand?’  (Multiple responses permitted):

Implement flexible working


Implement remote working


Improve work environment


Reduce working hours


Invest in corporate social responsibility


Increase compensation & benefits


Implement employee mentoring


None of these


When asked  to rank what they looked for most in management-level employees, businesses indicated that  previous financial services experience followed  by management experience  remain most important. However, businesses are not overlooking soft skills such as strong commercial awareness, effective communication skills and a good personality.

When asked about entry-level candidates, education and qualifications are top of the list, with graduates with a first class degree most highly sought after. This is followed by candidates with a 2.1 degree, and a Masters/MBA degree coming in third. This outranks other qualities, including previous financial services work experience/internship, communication skills, personality and cultural fit.

Neil Owen, Global Practice Director, Robert Half Financial Services said: “The financial services industry remains an attractive career option, providing challenge, opportunity and reward, but times are changing and it may not be enough. Today’s brightest stars have options, with the UK boasting a vibrant technology community, a multitude of entrepreneurial opportunities and a host of innovative companies, all vying for the best talent. City firms need to up their game or risk being left behind. Embracing and investing in one’s employer brand – providing work environments and benefits programmes that attract, motivate and retain while also aligning to the ethos of today’s workforce will ensure the industry remains the palpable choice for new entrants and experienced professionals alike.

 “The best employees are those with soft skills as well as technical ability. Although relevant experience and professional qualifications can get you to the interview stage, many companies are now looking at soft skills as part of a wider package, reflecting the hire for attitude, train for skill mentality. Commercial acumen and a good personality fit can take you from the interview into the boardroom.”

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Notes to editors

1 The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 100 Chief Financial Officers and Chief Operations Officers at UK financial services firms. The research was conducted in December 2013.

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 and