Latest Professional Hiring Index shows 51% projected increase in jobs in London & South East

07 August 2014
  • Financial services and finance & accounting will experience the highest hiring levels
  • Nearly all (89%) City 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, 7 August 2014 – Senior executives across London and the South East 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 industries within London and the South East, particularly within financial services as well as those employed across the broader accountancy professions, will experience strong job prospects - an increase of 51% 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 23% increase from one year ago when 28% of executives indicated that they planned to create additional jobs within their companies.  Showing increasing signs of post-recession confidence, 45% 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.

161 London and the South East-based 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

50%

28%

Maintaining – Only filling vacated positions

45%

58%

Freezing – Not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones

1%

11%

Reducing – Eliminating positions

0%

2%

 

*Survey does not equal 100 per cent due to rounding

According to HR directors surveyed in London and the South East, talent shortages are abundant, with a net 93% indicating that it is very challenging (30%) or somewhat challenging (63%) to find skilled professional-level employees today. The primary reason for this challenge, according to 43% of HR directors in London and the South East, is general demand outweighing supply followed by a lack of niche technical experts available (28%).

London and the South East-based HR directors were asked in, ‘Which of the following is the primary reason why it’s challenging to find skilled professionals today?’

 

H2 2014

General demand outweighs supply

43%

Lack of niche, technical experts

28%

Lack of commercial, business skills

17%

Slowed hiring during recession resulting in lack of candidates with the right skills

11%

 

Financial services hiring

Looking into sector specifics, the index shows that financial services is the most optimistic industry, with over half (57%) of financial services executives in London and the South East planning to hire during the second half of 2014, versus  44% 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 (65%), new market penetration (47%) and international business growth or expansion (42%).

The main areas within financial services requiring additional support within London and the South East include accounting and finance (84%), operations support (56%) and business development (30%).  However, the research shows that it may not be that simple to fill these roles. A net 96% of executives said that it is either very challenging (55%) or somewhat challenging (41%) to find skilled professionals today, with a net 89% saying compliance is a challenging role to fill, followed by finance (85%), data analytics (85%) and  risk (84%).

Accountancy and finance hiring

A closer look into those employed across the broader accountancy shows that 45% of finance executives in London and the South East are expanding their teams and adding new positions over the second half of 2014, versus only 24% during the same period in 2013. Just over half (55%) said that they planned to only fill vacated positions, while no directors plan redundancies. The top three reasons for hiring are: new projects and initiatives (83%), business growth or expansion – domestic (56%) and product or service expansion and international business growth or expansion, both at 39%.  

However, this accelerated hiring activity has created its own difficulties, with a net 85% of finance leaders saying they find it very challenging (33%) or somewhat challenging (53%) to find the required talent. The top three areas in which CFOs are struggling to find skilled candidates are business and financial analysis (48%), financial planning & analysis (33%) and audit (25%).

Matt Weston Director (London), Robert Half UK said: “Hiring levels are returning to pre-recessionary levels, as many c-suite executives across London and the South East 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 London and the South East 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 

  1. 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 161 interviews with senior executives from companies across London and the South East as well as 500 across the United Kingdom, 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. Founded in 1948, the company has over 340 offices worldwide and 18 in the United Kingdom providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at roberthalf.co.uk and twitter.com/roberthalfuk.