The wholesale banking industry underwent a period of massive transformation in the last year as it took an axe to its cost base to counter diminishing profits. It turned to outsourcing to deliver large-scale savings and most traditional back office and core operations roles were offshored from London to foreign destinations, or nearshored to other parts of the UK such as Birmingham, Bournemouth and Chester. The front office was also affected, with banks shrinking their equity sales teams in response to poor market returns.
Besides the front office, the functions that generally remain in London are ‘non-business-as-usual’ or positions that involve stakeholder management. They include roles that support the change and project work that is underpinning the banks’ transformations.
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Where hiring is taking place, it is normally replacement hiring to cover attrition. The notable exceptions to this are regulatory, compliance and procurement roles. Investment banks have a tidal wave of regulation to navigate both this year and in the future so they are bringing in extra resource to support regulatory projects. They are also under pressure from the Financial Services Authority to tighten their internal controls with regard to money laundering and sanctions. Meanwhile, banks are using their procurement functions to generate savings and additional value from suppliers.
Investment banks were once legendary for their bonuses but pay-outs for most functions are now a shadow of what they once were. Outside the hedge fund industry, 100% bonuses are hard to come by. Remuneration in the sector remains excellent compared with other industries and that means it will continue to attract high-quality candidates this year and beyond.