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Recession has been Good for Financial Services Say a Quarter of Staff

The survey of 2,000 UK staff examining attitudes to change in the workplace, revealed that staff working with financial services are some of the most positive in the UK when it comes to the impact of the recession. Only 16% of the wider UK workforce believe change brought on by the economic downturn has had a positive impact compared to 27% who work in financial services. The only sectors that have a more positive view of the impact of the recession on their industry are FMCG (42%) and manufacturing (31%).

Financial Services has also been one of the sectors that has embraced change the most over the last six years. While 37% of the wider UK workforce said they embraced change taking place as a result of the recession, in the financial world, this proportion was much higher at 51%. Similarly, 21% of UK staff resisted change while only 15% of financial services workers did the same.

Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial & Professional, said, “The financial services sector was firmly in the eye of the recessionary storm. For the last six years, businesses within the sector have been battered by changes to regulation, management structure, staffing policies and business levels. Companies have had to adapt to this new environment to ensure they can ride the storm, while keeping the talent they worked hard to attract.

“The key to managing this change has been effective communication with staff, ensuring they are fully aware of the benefits and opportunities that come with change – particularly when teams are being scaled back and workloads are increasing.

“Restructuring may mean heavier workloads and targets for those left behind. But these changes have helped staff get used to working within a leaner environment, giving them better experience and a more honed skill set than they might have developed had more staff been around to share the workload. – and ultimately a more fulfilling career. Indeed, previous research of ours shows that 47% of professionals say a heavier workload over the course of the recession has benefited their career in some way.”  

Table 1. Percentage of workers who believe change as a result of the recession has had a positive impact on their industry (by sector)

Sector

Positive Impact

FMCG

42%

Manufacturing

31%

Financial services

27%

Accountancy

24%

Pharma & Life Sciences

21%

Property

20%

Wholesale

20%

IT & Telecoms

19%

Construction

19%

Leisure & Hospitality

19%

UK Workforce

16%

Customer services

14%

Education

9%

Nursing

9%

Engineering

9%

Social care

7%

Utilities, Oil & Gas

7%

Public sector – other

7%

Retail and fashion

6%

Over a third (36%) of financial services staff feel the sector is now significantly different compared to before the economic downturn. This is above the 32% of the wider UK workforce who feel the same about their own industry.

According to staff within the sector the most significant changes made within financial services sector over the last six years have been to do with regulation. Nearly two fifths (39%) of staff believe that changes to the rules governing the sector have had the most significant impact over the course of the downturn. This is followed by changes to targets and workload (37%) and organisational structure (35%). This is significantly different to the wider workforce belief that it has been changes to funding (36%) and lower levels of recruitment (36%) that have had the most significant impact.

Ricks added, “Regulation has been a huge issue for businesses within the sector over the last few years. Where there was once one regulator for companies to comply with – the FSA – there are now three. The regulatory approach has shifted from & lsquo;light-touch’ to customer focussed. And the UK has led the world on implementing changes such as liquidity rules, meaning companies have been required to adapt with no precedent.

“While some in the industry have bemoaned changes to regulation, many have argued that the change will make the UK more attractive to investors and overseas companies as a clean, well-regulated market is an attractive place to do business and it seems a great deal of staff within the industry feel the same.”

More work to be done

Significantly, and despite the financial services sector having already undergone substantial change, over half of the workforce (51%) believe more change is necessary for the sector to improve. One in three (36%) believe only slightly more change is required while one in six (16%) feel significantly more change is necessary. 

Ricks said, “The financial services sector is constantly evolving. New products, new processes and new technologies are implemented daily, creating one of the most dynamic industries on the planet. To ensure businesses are equipped to deal with these developments and can maximise productivity while complying with a firm regulatory environment, opportunities to implement change will be widespread. Fortunately, the majority of those working in the industry understand this, and that is half the battle when it comes to successfully managing change.”

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