Professional hiring index predicts financial services jobs will drive labour market expansion in London and the South East

The Professional Hiring Index for the second half of 2015 looks at hiring trends and skills shortages that are expected to impact businesses across London and the South East of UK

  • More than half (56%) of financial services executives in London and the South East predict an increase in new roles in H2 2015 compared to average of 51% for all professional roles
  • All of those surveyed say that it is either very or somewhat challenging to find skilled financial services professionals
  • Over half (52%) predict increase in finance and accounting roles driven by business growth and expansion

London, 30, June 2015 – 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 Index1 (‘the index’) from Robert Half UK.  An average 51% of senior executives across industries in London and the South East including financial services, as well as those leading finance teams and human resource functions, predict that they will create new jobs in the second half of 2015.

However, growth will be particularly strong in the fast-recovering financial services marketplace, with more than half of financial services C-suite executives (56%) saying that they will recruit for new jobs in the second half of the year.

According to HR directors in London and the South East, talent shortages continue to bite across all professional roles, with 95% indicating that it is very challenging (28%) or somewhat challenging (68%) to find skilled professional-level employees today. The primary reason for this challenge, according to 37% of HRDs, is a lack of niche technical experts available, followed by general demand outweighing supply (32%).

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

Lack of niche, technical experts   37%
General demand outweighs supply 32%
Lack of commercial, business skills 21%
Slowed hiring during recession resulting in lack
of candidates with the right skills

Survey does not equal 100 due to rounding

Financial services hiring

The London and South East financial services sector continues to be an optimistic industry, with more than half (56%) of senior execs planning to hire during the second half of 2015, versus 51% for all professional roles in the region, and a national average of 54% for financial services roles.  The top three reasons for increasing financial services teams were given as new projects and initiatives (64%), new market penetration (57%) and domestic business growth or expansion (45%). This is reflected in the fact that the majority of headcount will be added in accounting and finance (64%), closely followed by operations support (62%), risk (36%) followed by business development (31%) and compliance (29%).

Financial services executives are aware that there is a growing skills shortage in their sector.  All those surveyed (100%) say that they find it either challenging or very challenging to find skilled financial services professionals today, with more than a third (37%) citing general demand outweighing supply as the main reason behind the shortage, followed by a lack of financial services niche experts available in the market (33%).

Accountancy and finance hiring

The proportion of CFOs in London and the South East who say they will expand their teams in the second half of 2015 has grown to 53%, up from 45% in 2014.

The majority (98%) of finance leaders in London and the South East are optimistic about economic growth for the forthcoming year and this is reflected in their confidence in their own growth prospects (95%). This growth agenda is increasing headcount for the following  three reasons: just over half (52%) said they would hire to meet the need for domestic business growth or expansion, while 48% need more resources to support international business growth or expansion and 43% cited product or service expansion.

Finding the best candidates is not an easy task for finance leaders.  The majority (98%) of finance leaders say they find it either very or somewhat challenging to find the required talent while 93% are concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the next year.  Higher confidence among employers (38%) and the current economic climate are the key drivers behind the stronger employment market, according to CFOs, while higher confidence amongst workers (25%) is also helping to build momentum.


Matt Weston, Director, London, Robert Half UK said: “All of the indicators across the index demonstrate that senior executives in London and the South East are hiring for growth. Despite recent news of restructuring in some areas of the financial services industry, confidence levels amongst senior executives in the region are high and momentum will continue to build.

“We anticipate that demand will continue to build over the next 12 months for permanent and interim professionals in financial services and accountancy and finance further extending the skills shortages as business look for specialised professionals with strong commercial acumen and communications skills. Companies who are looking to hire financial professionals in the second half of the year should do so with haste or risk losing top talent to competitors. ”


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 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