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Preparing for change in financial markets - are salaries keeping pace?

By Carolyn Dickason, Director of Hays Financial Markets

Since last year’s vote to leave the EU, the financial services sector has been in a state of uncertainty. It is rare for a week to go by without some mention of the potential impact Brexit could have on jobs in the financial services sector, and there is lingering uncertainty about the UK’s place on the global financial services stage.

However, that’s not to say business is stalling in face of this uncertainty. Our recent Hays Financial Markets Salary Guide shows that there is very much a feeling of business as usual, as organisations prepare for more pressing short-term changes and demands.

Positivity prevails

Our survey of nearly 900 employers and employees working in financial services shows that the vast majority of employers (92%) expect their organisation’s activity to increase or stay the same in the year ahead, a positive sign in otherwise uncertain times.

This activity is primarily being caused by the number of regulatory changes set to come into effect in the coming months, including MiFID II in January and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018. In addition, ring-fencing regulation affecting the larger banks is creating greater demand for talent in regional areas of the UK as organisations move offices to new sites.

This positivity is being reflected in hiring plans, with 68% of employers planning to hire staff in the year ahead, as well as 73% who are expecting to increase salaries.

Skills shortages remain a challenge

However, plans may be scuppered by the acute skills shortages that we are seeing for a number of roles within financial services. Over a quarter of employers feel they do not have the talent they need to achieve their current business objectives, an increase of 5% from last year.

A number of employers we speak to are seeking professionals with IT skills, including data and analytics, projects and change management, IT infrastructure, cyber security and software development skills, and this demand is reflected in our survey results. This is driven by a number of banks adapting their digital offering to meet the changing demands of their customers, such as developing mobile apps, online banking and robo-advisory services. As technology continues to evolve, this trend will no doubt continue.

Getting the balance right

Salary plays a large role in whether a professional chooses to change role, but work-life balance is also an important aspect to get right, as it is a top priority for a quarter of workers. However, just over two-fifths of professionals rate their work-life balance as very poor to average, which is almost no change from last year.

Encouragingly, there is some progress, as there has been an increase in the number of employers offering benefits that promote a positive work-life balance, such as flexible working, which has risen from 77% to 82%.

There is no doubt that Brexit will remain at the forefront of the mind of many working in financial services. But the pressing need to adapt and prepare for technological advances and regulatory updates keeps the sector moving forward, and the competition for talent high. Salary benchmarking exercises, combined with carefully considered benefits packages, will help employers to find and retain the skills they need to weather the months to come and capitalise on the opportunities.

Find out how your team’s salaries compare by requesting your copy of the Hays Financial Markets Salary Guide 2018.

To find out more, or to discuss your recruitment needs in this field, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Carolyn first joined Hays Accountancy & Finance in 2002, starting as a trainee recruitment consultant. She progressed to a management role, and in 2009 transferred to Australia, managing specialist business units. Her focus was in developing the business into a cohesive unit that continues to deliver a high quality service to Hays clients and candidates alike. After six years in Australia she returned to the UK in 2016 and now heads up our Finance Technology division based in London.

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