Regulation Fuels Demand for UK Financial Services Industry Skills

The unprecedented rise of new regulation in the financial services market place is driving significant growth of new roles, according to the ‘2013 Financial Services Salary Guide’, issued by recruitment consultancy Robert Half UK.

The firm reports that although hiring has not returned to pre-2007 levels, talent gaps exist and could signal a significant challenge in the future, particularly in regulation, risk and compliance. It also reports that the biggest salary rises, between 2012 and 2013 are in the regulation, compliance, risk, audit and security IT sectors.

Much of the new hiring within the financial services sector revolves around business critical roles, with a mix of mid- and senior- level talent as well as newly qualified accountants seeing the greatest opportunities.  Companies under pressure to do more with less expect employees to be both specialists and generalists, demonstrating high level experience and knowledge across multiple areas.

Regulatory change remains top of mind for the financial services sector as companies strive to generate profits as well as achieve compliance with regulation ranging from Solvency II to Basel III and from International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Consequently, there remains a significant need for risk, regulatory and compliance professionals, and as demand outweighs supply, companies face increased budgetary pressure to secure the market’s most sought-after individuals.

The report shows the following 2013 salary ranges for regulatory accounting roles, with the increase over 2012 shown in brackets:

  • Manager: £80,250 – £100,000 (+3.7%).
  • Accountant (4-7 years’ post-qualified experience (PQE)): £60,500 – £92,250 (+2.5%).
  • Accountant (Non-qualified – 3 years’ PQE: £49,000 – £74,500 (+3.6%).
  • Accountant: £35,250 – £48,500 (+3.4%)

Changes in the regulatory environment are also having a significant impact on technology, leading to tier one and mid-cap banks citing higher demand for regulatory, risk and finance IT professionals. The rise in big data has also stimulated demand for data analysts, business intelligence and data/database developers, as reflected in the following ranges for compliance, audit, risk and security IT roles:

  • Information security manager: £73,250 – £102,750 (+5.4%).
  • Information security officer: £50,500 – £75,500 (+5.4%).
  • Security network engineer: £54,750 – £70,750 (+4.4%).
  • Senior IT auditor: £66,000 – £85,250 (+3.2%).

Commenting on various sub-sectors within the financial service sector, the guide notes:

  • Investment banking: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have fared favourably, as have those banks focused on emerging markets, commodities or energy.
  • Private equity: London in particular shows significant demand for skilled professionals due to further investment, acquisitions and diversification.
  • Hedge funds: Hiring has been moderate in volume but consistent across finance, banking operations and IT.
  • Asset/investment management: Corporate governance and risk management have been scrutinised by investors, resulting in improved processes and transparency and  leading to demand for professionals who can drive these changes.
  • Retail and commercial banking: Particular demand exists for those professionals who can help drive new retail initiatives and support augmented risk and compliance departments.
  • Insurance: Increased regulation and compliance, along with consumer protection reform under the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), has created additional demand for highly skilled professionals while pension suite enrolment will add to pressures on the industry in the coming year.

“According to our research, growth may well be on the horizon,” said Phil Sheridan, managing director, Robert Half Financial Services. “The business outlook has improved, with most financial services executives indicating that they are ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ confident in their companies’ growth prospects compared with last year.  Finance professionals in particular are benefitting from this optimism as companies look for additional insight and strategy into business process improvement, cost savings and new sources of revenue.”

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