Soaring demand for financial services skills

The UK's financial services are facing a "huge" shortage of talent, exacerbated by a boom in demand in the wake of the pandemic, according to a new survey.

London, UK - May 1, 2018: Modern skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, one of the main financial centres of the United Kingdom
Vacancies within the sector in England and Wales rose by almost 38% between the first and second quarters of the year, according to research by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).The research comes on the heels of a report from the Professional & Business Services Council and the Financial Services Skills Commission, which found that an average of 32% of UK firms were suffering shortages in financial, professional and business services skills.According to the APSCo data, compiled by business intelligence specialists Vacancysoft, hiring levels within financial services were, by the end of last month, already 6.9% higher than the total for last year.Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo said, “Our latest data shows that the recovery is well underway despite the challenges the pandemic has presented, and this is certainly echoed by our members operating within the financial services arena, who are reporting huge demand for their services.“While we expect to see this trend continue as we progress throughout the year, it can’t be forgotten that employers are contending with huge talent shortages which are only being exacerbated by the boom in hiring."Consequently, professional recruitment companies will have a huge part to play in assisting employers reach the talent they need to thrive and avoid hampering their recovery.”
The research showed that IT experts remained the most in-demand skills with more than 15,270 new jobs advertised so far in 2021, itself greater than the total for the whole of last year.APSCo found that, among the biggest companies in the sector, JP Morgan had 2,246 vacancies so far this year, an 18.3% increase on its 2020 total, while Citi had the second largest total with 1,552 vacancies, up 39.2% year-on-year.In an interview with Accountancy Age, Matthew Lawford, operations director at specialist accounting recruitment firm AJ Chambers, said skills shortages and shifts in employee demands brought on by the pandemic would combine to create an all-time high of talent strategy changes in the accounting and professional services industries.“I think we’re seeing hiring volatility and a process change. A lot of firms have had to be much quicker,” he said. “Even now, those who feel like their processes are quite slick are still losing out on talent.”Despite the shortage, an AJ Chambers report examining the impact of the pandemic on the accounting industry found that just 9.5% of business owners in accounting and finance cited ‘assessing the recruitment strategy’ as a top priority during the pandemic.Mr Lawford said that firms must stay alert to the changing landscape and ensure that their offerings to employees squared with the burgeoning volatility and competitiveness in the market.“We’re still seeing quite a few accountancy practices who feel they’re in line with the market rate, but they’re actually not, because the market rate has changed,” he added.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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