Mixed fortunes reported for UK financial professionals

Last year proved to be one of mixed fortunes for professionals in the UK, according to professional services recruiter, Morgan McKinley.

In its newly-released 2016 UK Salary Guide, the firm reports that there were signs of a strong economic recovery in the first half of 2015. However, following the volatility on the Chinese stock market that began in June the second half brought renewed uncertainty amid more challenging global conditions. Chief financial officers (CFOs) reacted by announcing redundancies and imposing restrictions on hiring talent.

Despite this, 2015 saw growth in employment in accounting and finance, compliance, risk management and internal audit in response to the growing burden of regulations. Morgan McKinley expects salary increases within the London financial services to favour those looking to change organisations over the next 12 months, with some firms offering suitable candidates rises of 15-20% on base salary.

Among the highlights of the UK 2016 Salary Guide:

Compliance: Last year saw a 19% increase in vacancies compared to 2014. A shortage of suitable individuals was reflected in a 20% increase in salaries, a figure which rose to 30% and above for more niche and hard¬-to-¬fill roles. These included monitoring, regulatory affairs, anti-money laundering (AML) and front office compliance advisory, particularly in fixed income and foreign exchange (FX) markets. Compliance also saw an increase in hiring trend for females and lawyers, as well as high-quality candidates from Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Projects and change: Professionals were in high demand to support strategic programmes with rationalising systems infrastructure and delivering high-quality data reporting capabilities to meet upcoming regulatory requirements.
Risk: The regulatory and technological landscape is making it difficult to match existing skill sets to the new needs. Hiring organisations are now recruiting at a more junior level, especially those with outstanding academic qualifications who can adapt to software tools and programming languages.
Internal auditors: Banking auditors were in demand during 2015 due to increased regulation, with firms increasing their headcount by as much as 20-¬25%.
Technologists: Employers are seeking suitable candidates within big data, software engineering and financial technology (fintech) to improve processes, streamline businesses, undertake structural reforms and capture data.
HR recruitment: Human resources saw volumes increasing to levels not seen since the 2008 global financial crisis. The firm registered strong demand for HR managers, HR generalists and rewards and compensation specialists, learning and development and training experts, and HR advisors.
Online content: Increased reliance on online content has led to the emergence of the digital product manager, who brings new products to market via complex marketing campaigns.

A bumpy ride ahead?

The coming year is already shaping up to be significantly more challenging, thanks to the volatility of the opening weeks. The guide was compiled before the announcement that a referendum to decide the UK’s continued membership of the European Union (EU) will be held on June 23, which has driven down sterling on the foreign exchanges in recent days.

“The events that we have seen to date in 2016 suggest that this year will be a bumpy ride for the UK,” says Hakan Enver, operations director at Morgan McKinley’s London office. “London will also be impacted by job losses in banking and financial services, increased house prices and organisations offshoring divisions to more cost-effective locations across the UK.

“Despite the announcement in finance of major redundancies, there has been growth in employment in a number of areas in response to the growing burden of regulations and diminished appetite for risk. Demand in 2016 is likely to be continued to be driven by changes in legislation and regulation.

“Salaries have increased over the last two years, due to the demand of certain skill sets outweighing availability and competition for the best talent. Those in an environment with exposure to policies, procedures and controls, will find themselves in a more attractive position for a promotion or increased remuneration packages.”

“Across South West England and the Home Counties, we expect to see demand across all disciplines, with the salary gap slowly narrowing with the capital’s. This allows relocation to other parts of the UK more palatable as those leaving London are not necessarily as financially worse off.”

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