Latest Professional Hiring Index shows 44% projected increase in UK jobs

The Robert Half Professional Hiring Index for the second half of 2014 looks at hiring trends and business confidence for the UK. 

  • Financial services and finance & accounting will experience the highest hiring levels
  • Nearly all (90%) financial services executives report that ‘compliance’1 is the hardest role to fill
  • A net 93% of HR directors say it is either very or somewhat challenging to find skilled professionals today

London, 6 August,  2014 – Senior executives across UK businesses plan to increase staff levels significantly over the next six months, according to the latest professional hiring index2 (‘the index’) from Robert Half UK. Professionals throughout the UK’s industries, particularly within financial services as well as those employed across the broader accountancy professions, will experience strong job prospects - an increase of 44% according to c-suite professionals in human resources, finance and financial services - as the UK economy breaks clear of the recession.

The increased hiring forecast represents a 15% increase from one year ago when three in 10 (29%) executives indicated that they planned to create additional jobs within their companies. Showing increasing signs of post-recession confidence, half (50%) of executives say that they plan to maintain employee levels, with many who had previously only filled vacated positions now expanding their teams and adding new roles.

500 UK C-suite executives were asked, ‘What are your company's hiring plans for permanent professional-level employees? Would you say you are.’


H2 2014

H2 2013*

Expanding – Adding new positions



Maintaining – Only filling vacated positions



Freezing – Not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones



Reducing – Eliminating positions



*Survey does not equal 100 per cent due to rounding.

According to HR directors surveyed, talent shortages are abundant, with a net 93% indicating that it is very challenging (33%) or somewhat challenging (60%) to find skilled professional-level employees today. The primary reason for this challenge, according to 34% of HR directors, is a lack of niche technical experts available, followed by general demand outweighing supply (33%).

200 HR directors were asked, ‘Which of the following is the primary reason why it’s challenging to find skilled professionals today?’

  H2 2014
Lack of niche, technical experts 34%
General demand outweighs supply 33%
Slowed hiring during recession resulting in lack of candidates with the right skills 20%
Lack of commercial, business skills 14%
Other 1%


Financial services hiring

Looking into sector specifics, the index shows that  financial services is the most optimistic industry, with nearly half (48%) of CFOs planning to hire during the second half of 2014, versus 37% over the same period in 2013.  When asked about the top three reasons for increasing their teams, financial services leaders named new projects and initiatives (63%), new market penetration (46%) and international business growth or expansion (42%).

The main areas within financial services requiring additional support include accounting and finance (77%), operations support (56%) and business development (29%).  However, the research shows that it may not be that simple to fill these roles. A net 97% of executives said that it is either very challenging (50%) or somewhat challenging (47%) to find skilled professionals today, with a net 90% saying compliance is the hardest role to fill, followed by finance (86%), data analytics (84%) and risk (83%).

Accountancy and finance hiring

A closer look into those employed across the broader accountancy professions shows that 45% of finance directors are expanding their teams and adding new positions over the second half of 2014, versus only 28% during the same period in 2013. Just over half (53%) said that they planned to only fill vacated positions, with only 1% saying they plan redundancies. The top three reasons for hiring are: new projects and initiatives (73%), business growth or expansion – domestic (52%) and new market penetration (47%).

However, this accelerated hiring activity has created its own difficulties, with a net 92% of finance leaders saying they find it very challenging (38%) or somewhat challenging (54%) to find the required talent. The top three areas in which CFOs are struggling to find skilled candidates are business and financial analysis ( 32%), accounting (29%) and financial management/control and audit,  both 26%.    

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director, Robert Half UK said: “Hiring levels are returning to pre-recessionary levels, as many c-suite executives look to add more weight and support to their departments in order to grow their operations.  Businesses are no longer just replacing leavers but are now looking to substantially expand their teams. Resourcing is fundamental to an organisation’s success,  with strong individuals driving business critical growth initiatives.

“Skills shortages across the UK economy are becoming a major issue, with this deficit putting businesses at increasing risk.  Our figures show that financial services and finance & accounting, in particular, are current and future growth areas, with professionals being highly sought after and commanding premium remuneration.”                                                                                    

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

1. When asked to choose from the following list: Compliance, Finance, Risk and Data analytics 

2. The bi-annual study was developed by Robert Half UK and is conducted by an independent research firm.  The study is based on more than 500 interviews with senior 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 and