UK job vacancies in financial services have risen sharply this year as the country begins to rebound from the pandemic, with demand for compliance and IT roles helping to drive up talent acquisition.
The overall number of professional vacancies in banking and asset management, excluding clerical roles, reached the highest level in more than five years in May, with 4574 roles advertised, according to data from labour market analytics firm Vacancysoft.
The onset of the pandemic last year saw the number of professional vacancies plunge to 1349 roles in April 2020, before gradually starting to recover.
“Our forecast is that 2021 will be a record year for banking vacancies, following the busiest first quarter for more than a decade, and could finish some 20–30% higher than 2017 because of the post-Covid-19 return to work, as well as banks gearing up for a dual regulatory culture [following Brexit],” says James Chaplin, chief executive of Vacancysoft.
Brexit has led to a rise in demand for certain roles as banks try to understand how new regulation will impact them
The impact of the UK’s departure from the EU single market in January has led to widespread concerns that large numbers of financial services jobs would relocate to Europe. A report by think tank New Financial in April estimated that more than 440 banking and finance firms have moved or are moving part of their business, staff, assets or legal entities from the UK to the EU, and identified 7400 staff moves or local hires in response to Brexit.
However, Oliwia Berdak, a financial services analyst at Forrester, points out that Brexit has also created demand for compliance officers and other middle-manager roles as banks grapple with a changing regulatory landscape.
“Brexit has led to a rise in demand for certain roles as banks try to understand how new regulation will impact them. This is an area that has seen strong growth, balancing out some of the jobs that have moved to Europe,” she says.
“Banks are still hiring compliance roles and legal people. The focus has changed, but the number of roles has not come down.”
The fallout from Covid-19 has spurred hiring activity in investment banking and asset management, Ms Berdak says. “Investment banks held back hiring last year. But the recent market activity, both in terms of trading volumes and the volatility associated with Covid-19, which has led to restructuring, has fuelled investment bank activity and the need for more staff.”
According to Vacancysoft data, demand for IT positions in banking and asset management have seen robust growth over the past few months. The number of UK IT vacancies reached an all-time high of 1410 positions in March, while there were 1617 IT banking vacancies in May.
“A lot of banks are not reducing hiring,” says Ms Berdak, adding that while some roles are being cut — such as branch managers as banks reduce the number of branches — institutions are stepping up efforts to hire people with other skills, particularly related to digital and technology. “There is a shortage [of qualified people in these areas],” she says.
“There is a lot of demand for developers, data analytics people, cloud and cyber security specialists, and other back-office roles.”
Another area of expertise that banks have been looking to increase headcount is sustainability, including legal and compliance, Ms Berdak says. “The environmental, social and corporate governance agenda has been pushed to the fore, and banks are looking to hire green finance specialists,” she adds.