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Increase in demand for contract talent to deliver transformation projects within financial services

The survey of 6,000 financial services specialists working in the UK draws attention to a change in the way people are employed in the industry. Rather than relying on permanent staff and management consultancies, organisations are increasingly enjoying the flexibility and value that contractors offer in times that require rapid response to change against a backdrop of economic uncertainty. This means that many contractors are finding themselves in the enviable position of having more than one option to choose from.

Among financial institutions, retail banks remain the most popular places to work with nearly a third (32 per cent) of those surveyed currently working for a top 4 retail bank. However, a recent resurgence of contract hiring in investment banking has meant that competition for talent across the sector has intensified, with investment banks now the second most desirable place to seek employment among participants. Retail challenger banks, which have emerged as alternatives to the traditional big 4 in the wake of the financial crisis are a close third. Challenger banks include organisations such as Virgin Money, TSB and Aldermore.

The following criteria in order of preference were identified by respondents as key to attracting the top talent in the sector:

1.       Pay rate

2.       Location

3.       Scope of work

4.       Length of assignment

5.       Work-life balance

Despite being the most popular place to work among respondents, the big 4 retail banks did not score highly against these criteria. This suggests that financial institutions which are able to focus on these drivers will elevate their brand in the contractor market and ultimately attract the best talent.
A number of other issues driving change in the market were identified. Regulatory change, the outcome of the upcoming general election, renewed uncertainty over the economy as well as new technologies and digitisation are all expected to have a bearing on future plans and positions.  

Commenting on the findings Jon Wilson, Head of Financial Services said:

“The last five years have seen an enormous amount of change within the financial services sector. As a response to these changes and the uncertainty created, our survey has highlighted a shift in the way people are being employed and a shift in the sector’s competitive landscape.”

Findings are based on the responses of 6000 contractors currently working in the sector in the UK. 


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