Professional hiring index predicts financial services jobs will drive UK labour market expansion

24 June 2015
  • More than half (54%) of financial services executives predict an increase in new roles in H2 2015 compared to average of 47% for all professional roles
  • Vast majority (98%) say that it is either very or somewhat challenging to find skilled financial services professionals
  • Over half (59%) predict increase in finance and accounting roles driven by new projects/initiatives and product/service expansion

London, 30, June  2015 – Senior executives across UK businesses 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 47% of senior executives across UK industries 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 (54%) saying that they will recruit for new jobs in the second half of the year.

The number of executives that predict an expansion has risen by 3% over the same period in 2014 and a full 18% since two years before. The continued rise in the UK hiring forecast indicates that post-recession confidence has now stabilised and steady growth is on the agenda.

500 UK C-suite executives were asked, ‘What are your company's hiring plans for permanent professional-level employees in the second half of the year? Would you say you are:’

  July–Dec 2015 July–Dec 2014 July–Dec 2013*
Expanding – Adding new positions 47% 44% 29%
Maintaining – Only filling vacated positions 44% 49% 61%
Freezing – Not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones 9% 5% 7%
Reducing – Eliminating positions 1% 1% 2%

*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding

According to HR directors surveyed, talent shortages continue to bite across all professional roles, with 91% indicating that it is very challenging (32%) or somewhat challenging (59%) to find skilled professional-level employees today. The primary reason for this challenge, according to 35% of HRDs, is a lack of niche technical experts available, followed by general demand outweighing supply (30%).

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

Lack of niche, technical experts 35%
General demand outweighs supply 30%
Lack of commercial, business skills 22%
Slowed hiring during recession resulting in lack of candidates with the right skills  13%
Other    1%

 

Financial services hiring

Financial services continues to be an optimistic industry, with more than half (54%) of senior execs planning to hire during the second half of 2015, versus an average of 47% across all industries and 48% over the same period in 2014.  The top three reasons for increasing financial services  teams were given as new projects and initiatives (59%), new market penetration (52%) and domestic business growth or expansion (48%). This is reflected in the fact that the majority of headcount will be added in accounting and finance (67%), closely followed by operations support (61%), business development (33%), risk (31%), and compliance (26%).

Financial services executives are aware that there is a growing skills shortage in their sector.  The vast majority (98%) say that they find it either challenging or very challenging to find skilled financial services professionals today, with more than a third (35%) citing general demand outweighing supply as the main reason behind the shortage.

Accountancy and finance hiring

The proportion of CFOs who say they will expand their teams in the second half of 2015 has grown to 50%, up by 5% from 45% of finance directors in 2014.  Steady rather than rapid growth is demonstrated by comparing this with the percentage increase between 2013 and 2014, which almost doubled from 28% during the same period.

Ninety per cent of UK finance leaders are optimistic about economic growth for the forthcoming year and this is reflected in their own growth prospects (88%). This growth agenda is increasing headcount for the following  three reasons: just over half (52%) said they would hire to provide resources for new projects and initiatives, while 44% cited product or service expansion and 43% pointed to domestic business growth or expansion.  Only 8% said that ‘new regulatory requirements’ was a top three reason to hire new accountancy and finance staff, suggesting that responding to regulation is now part of ‘business as usual’ rather than a specialist, ad hoc activity.

Finding the best candidates is not getting any easier for finance leaders.  The same proportion (92%) of finance leaders as last year say they find it either very or somewhat challenging to find the required talent while 87% are concerned about losing top performers to other job opportunities in the next year.  Higher confidence among employers is the top driver behind the stronger employment market, according to 35% of CFOs, while the economic climate (33%) and higher confidence amongst workers (32%) are also helping to build momentum.  

Phil Sheridan, Senior Managing Director, Robert Half UK said: “All of the indicators across the index demonstrate that senior executives are hiring for growth. Despite recent news of restructuring in some areas of the financial services industry, confidence levels amongst senior executives is 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. As we head into the second half of the year, companies who are looking to hire should do so with haste as financial professionals on the market today are often receiving multiple offers. ”

-ENDS-

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 and #1 in our industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s “World's Most Admired Companies” list (2015). 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.