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Regional Outlook - London (Commerce & Industry)

March 2014

With confidence in the London market at a five-year high, there is increased hiring in commerce and industry as companies invest in growth.

A noticeable pick-up in job listings and hiring in London over the past six months suggests that business confidence is returning to pre-recession levels. As the economic outlook improves, employers in the capital are focusing on growth once again, creating good opportunities for finance professionals across the board.
Companies are expanding their teams, entering new markets and opening new subsidiaries, leading to an increase in both permanent and temporary positions. Employers have been making more growth-related job hires, in contrast with the downturn when much recruitment was focused on replacement hires or filing positions arising from restructuring. At Hays, we expect this trend to continue throughout 2014.

Demand for finance professionals is high across all levels within commerce and industry, from newly qualified accountants through to finance directors. Internal auditors and IT auditors are particularly sought after, with companies investing in these professionals for governance reasons and to address the burgeoning IT risks they face. While there is steady demand for commercially-minded business partners to support expanding companies, finance professionals with a more technical background are also highly sought after.

At newly qualified level, candidates from mid-tier firms are attractive to employers because they have a wide skill-set, with hands-on experience both of auditing and accounts preparation. This can give them an edge over candidates who trained with Big 4 firms and whose experience is centred on auditing accounts. At a senior level, more finance director roles are being listed, with employers seeking candidates who can offer not only a professional qualification, but also credibility and a specific skill-set that matches the job role.

Currently, the busiest sectors in commerce and industry in London are property, construction and engineering, although, at Hays, we are also seeing a surge in opportunities in media and in the technology start-up space.

The market for interim finance professionals is buoyant due to businesses embarking on transformation projects. Strong finance candidates with change management experience can command between £500 and £1,000 per day, depending on the scale of the project. Interim contracts are typically offered for between three and nine months, with many interims on a rolling contract. Companies often use temporary staff to bring in suitably skilled candidates quickly. This means that temporary positions may easily become permanent.

Overall, the recruitment market has become more candidate-driven and good candidates often get multiple offers. At Hays, we believe that employers will have to work hard to secure the best candidates in 2014. They will need to run clear and thorough recruitment processes as well as recognise that salary plays an important part in attracting the strongest applicants. In general, salaries have remained steady over the past six months, and are expected to remain so in 2014, but the best candidates can secure above-average increases.

The market in London is the best that it has been for five years. As companies commit to hiring and the appetite for growth increases, we feel positive at Hays as we look ahead to the rest of 2014.

To find out more about opportunities in commerce and industry in London, visit our website or contact David Trollope on 020 3465 0012