Many UK top-tier banks have rationalised their operations or management layers. Several are withdrawing or scaling down their international operations, freezing their mid-level recruitment or moving divisions to less costly locations such as Birmingham.
For many of the larger investment banks, the CRD IV regulations have increased scrutiny and control placed on their lending activities. New peer-to-peer lending platforms, whilst in their early days, continue to gather pace with new entrants, the focus clearly being the SME sector.
Despite freezes and redundancies at UK banks, the outlook is steady with pockets of hiring amongst the large Japanese banks, emerging Chinese banks and a string of smaller international banks (particularly those with a focus on Middle East and Africa) keeping the market competitive. The SME sector presents the most movement with the creation of challenger banks and peer-to-peer lenders.
Mandarin speakers are particularly in demand due to the steady rise of the Chinese banks in London, either to focus on in-bound subsidiaries of Chinese corporate clients or more commonly to report and liaise with head office. Trade finance and property lending remain areas in which banks continue to grow activities, the stable UK property market presenting ideal security against which to lend.
Whilst the overall market is steady in terms of vacancy volume, the supply of top quality candidates looking to move jobs is limited. Employers are becoming more discerning in their requirements than ever, placing upward pressure on salaries and creating potential for an uplift of 15-20%.