Vast majority of UK executives will maintain or increase current staff levels over next six months

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

  • Financial Services, Finance & Accounting and IT will experience an upward shift in recruitment during first half of 2014 
  • New projects/initiatives (54%) and product or service expansion (46%) will drive demand within IT 
  • 90% of senior executives within FS are confident in their company’s growth versus 75% during same period last year 

London, 21 January 2014 – Senior executives plan to increase or maintain current staff levels over the next six months finds new research from Robert Half UK. Professionals across the financial services industry as well as those employed within the technology and accountancy professions will see strong job prospects as the UK economy continues to gain momentum.

Financial services

More than four in ten (41%) senior financial services executives are planning to recruit new permanent, professional-level staff in the first half of 2014, with a further 53% maintaining current levels.  With a mere 3% planning to decrease levels, executives are upbeat, with the vast majority (90%)  remaining confident in their company’s growth prospects compared with last year.  This compares to 75% during the same period twelve months ago.

When asked for the top three reasons behind planned increases in the number of permanent financial services professionals, nearly two-thirds (63%) selected new projects/ initiatives as their top priority for hiring.  This was followed by new market penetration (61%) and product or service expansion (34%).

100 financial services CFOs/COOs were asked ‘What are the top three reasons for increasing the number of permanent financial services professionals?’

  H1 2014
New projects / initiatives 63%
New market penetration 61%
Product or service expansion 34%
Business growth or expansion (domestic) 32%
Business growth or expansion (international) 32%
Financial systems upgrades 22%
Merger or acquisition 15%
New regulatory requirements 5%


Profession-specific trends:


Looking at technology professionals, more than a quarter (27%) of leaders plan to add new IT positions to their workforce during the first six months of 2014, with six in 10 (63%) filling vacated positions.  Compared to the same period to last year, just 3% plan to reduce headcount versus 9% during the first half in 2013, showing a vast improvement on redundancies within the IT profession. 

When asked how confident they are in their own company’s growth prospects in the forthcoming year, a net 75% of executives said they were either very or somewhat confident, with a net 76% saying they  were confident in the UK’s economic prospects in the forthcoming year.    

Looking at the top reason for increasing headcount, over half (54%) of IT executives cite new projects/initiatives at the main reason, followed by product or service expansion (46%) and IT risk and security (39%). 

100 CIOs/CTOs across all industries were asked ‘What are the top three reasons for increasing the number of technology professionals?                                                                               

  H1 2014
New projects / initiatives 54%
Product or service expansion 46%
IT risk & security 39%
Business growth or expansion (domestic) 36%
New market penetration 32%
Business growth or expansion (international) 32%
Systems upgrades 21%
Merger or acquisition 7%


Phil Sheridan, Managing Director, Robert Half UK said: “Many firms have found it challenging to maintain a consistent recruitment process. Demand outweighs supply in certain areas and additional job creation has resulted in many firms looking to attract top talent from competing businesses. The most sought-after candidates are attending numerous interviews and, in some cases, receiving multiple offers. There has been a re-emergence of individuals accepting last-minute counteroffers as employers try to retain talent, especially given the risk to projects as well as the cost of replacement hires.”

Accounting and finance hiring

Hiring within accounting and finance will remain relatively buoyant in the first half of 2014, with more than one in three (36%) CFOs expecting hiring increases and over half (55%) filling vacated positions.  The key driver for hiring for accounting and finance professionals remains rising workloads with new projects/initiatives (71%) leading the charge, followed by new market penetration (55%) and product or service expansion (38%).

Optimism in the business climate is on the rise, with more than eight in 10 (83% net) executives expressing confidence in the UK’s domestic growth prospects, up thirteen percentage points from the first half of  last year. Looking at their own company’s projections, nearly nine in 10 (86%) are confident – up from 84% this time last year – suggesting a firm’s own combination of strategies, leadership and procedures can offset other macroeconomic factors.

Sheridan concludes: “Companies looking to attract the market’s most sought-after professionals are realising that financial remuneration is only one factor affecting candidates’ decisions. As employees aim to balance work and life commitments, offering a comprehensive benefits package – often flexible and tailored to each employee’s preferences – is helping companies position themselves as great places to work.”


Notes to editors

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 400 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