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Summer holiday season impacts jobs market

"As expected, the summer holiday season has had a noticeable impact on the numbers,” says Hakan Enver, operations director, Morgan McKinley Financial Services. “This is likely to have an effect on next month’s statistics as well, then it will be back to business as usual.”

The long-term trend in jobs growth continues with new job opportunities rising 17% year-on-year. It was a different - though expected - outcome for the monthly statistics as July saw professional opportunities decrease by 16%, a total of approximately two thousand jobs less than the previous month. This year, in contrast to previous years, hiring managers have been pushing forward their recruitment over their holidays, instead of passing recruitment tasks to their colleagues. “Hiring managers seem to feel that there is no hurry during the holidays. Slow employers are being hit, because by the end of the summer they will find that the best talent has already been scooped up by competitors,” says Enver.

Professionals seeking new opportunities continued to climb, rising by 27% month-on-month. “Summer holidays are when job seekers have time to update their CVs and structure their career plans,” says Enver. “July and August are the months when many new job seekers enter the market.”

Some employees are also taking advantage of the quieter months to renegotiate their compensation packages. “We’ve seen some staff ask for a raise accompanied with the threat of changing employers,” said Enver. “It is a tactic that does sometimes work, however, it is risky. Your bluff may be called and even if the tactic works, it can damage the relationship with the employer.”

Tube strikes

London once again came to a grinding halt when tube workers went on strike to protest the September launch of all-night weekend Tube services. Tube workers did not want to accept the increase in night shifts, which London Underground says would add up to an extra seven night-shifts per year.

The 24-hour strike affected over three million London commuters who use the service daily and according to the Financial Times, the strike cost London’s economy &pound50 million.

Greek deal

The never-ending story of the Greek financial depression was one of the main financial headline grabbers of July. Yet again, a deal was struck at an all night meeting between the Troika (European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission (EC), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Greek government.

“If the Greek problems had any impact on hiring, it was minimal and purely psychological,” says Enver. “The Greek crisis has been going on for years and it looks to continue into the foreseeable future, so people have now come to accept it as part of the status quo.”

Unemployment rises for the first time in two years

Unemployment rose for the first time in two years according to the Office of National Statistics. There were a reported 15,000 more people unemployed quarter-on-quarter, making a total of 1.85 million unemployed in the UK. After a long period of positive employment data, the negative number came as a shock to some and gave rise to comments that perhaps the UK economic recovery is not as strong as many previously thought.

“The increase in unemployment was under one percent, while this is unfortunate it should hardly come as a surprise that after two years, particularly around the holiday season, we see a small increase in unemployment,” says Enver.

UK financial services

Led by the City of London, the UK continues to dominate as the world’s largest exporter of financial services. The total amount of UK financial services exports totalled $95 billion, nearly three times larger than second place USA, followed by Switzerland, Luxembourg, Singapore and Hong Kong respectively.

The UK budget had two major surprises for financial services. Banks will be impacted with an 8% surcharge on profits, which comes on top of the existing bank levy. The new surcharge will be in effect from accounting periods beginning 1 January 2016. There was some relief offered to banks in light of the new surcharge as corporate tax will be lowered to 19% in 2017 and then to 18% in 2020.

Average salary increases

"Last month showed that on average, a financial professional could demand up to 22% more salary by moving from one organisation to another. This is one of the highest percentage increases we have seen in a while, which bodes well for those considering a move," says Enver. "The market has an appetite to remunerate those with a skill set that is in high demand."

Digital skills pushing up marketing salaries

Marketing related roles are at the frontline as client demand better digitisation and improved ways of communicating with financial services companies grows. The gap between a support function such as marketing and the traditional front office banking jobs is narrowing, even as front office salaries have increased due to bonus cap regulations over the last few years.Base salaries in the most senior end of marketing roles have remained relatively flat, but there are possibilities to double packages through performance based incentives.

"Those Marketing Directors and Heads of Marketing Communication functions who are able to command the highest packages are those combining a strong traditional marketing skills set with broad knowledge of digital marketing tools ,” says Jo Stone, associate director of sales and marketing at Morgan McKinley. “Furthermore, experience of successfully driving content, social media marketing strategies and evidence of contributing to the expansion of distribution channels are the most sought after abilities by employers."

There is demand across the board for marketing and sales support professionals as financial services companies attempt to boost trust in their brand and products in order to attract and retain customers. "We have noted that RFPs and investment writers’ salaries continue to drive upwards. Hiring demand in both of these discipline areas, particularly within asset management, has continued to outstrip supply now for years,” says Stone.

As the demand for marketing skills broadens across the financial industry, employers are searching for marketing professionals with competence in digital marketing and the effective use of modern distribution channels (social media). “For years, banks and insurance firms have gradually been growing out their digital marketing teams, but now their asset management cousins have joined the party, resulting in a significant skills gap,” says Stone. “Those with a CV that includes digital and social media marketing experience, combined with a broad knowledge of digital marketing tools and platforms, can command higher salaries.”

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