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Growth expected to be strong in financial services industry, according to Robert Half UK

The latest Professional Hiring Index (‘the index’) from Robert Half UK reveals that senior C-suite executives across UK companies plan to increase staff levels significantly over the first half of 2016. An average 58% of senior executives leading finance teams across UK industries, as well as financial services executives, predict that they will create new jobs in the next six months.


The index demonstrates that growth will be particularly strong in the financial services industry, with nearly two thirds of C-suite executives (62%) saying that they will increase their headcount in the first half of the year. This forecast is up from 54% in June 2015, 41% in January 2015 and 31% in January 2013 and shows that the industry will continue to move on an upward trajectory throughout the course of 2016. Of those surveyed, 95% of senior financial services executives claimed they were confident in their business growth prospects next year.


300 UK C-suite executives were asked, ‘What are your company's hiring plans for permanent finance professionals in the first half of 2016? Would you say you are:’

H1 2016

Finance Executives (ALL)

Financial Services Executives

Accountancy & Finance Executives

Expanding – Adding new positions




Maintaining – Only filling vacated positions




Freezing – Not filling vacated positions and not creating new ones




Reducing – Eliminating positions




*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding

Source: Robert Half, 2016


According to almost all of the senior financial services executives surveyed (99%), finding the right professionals continues to be a challenge mainly due to a shortage of niche, technical experts (42%) and general demand outweighing supply (32%).  More than eight in ten (86%) also stated that they are very or somewhat concerned about losing their top performers to other job opportunities this year.


Additional hiring will predominantly occur in the accounting and finance teams (64%), operations support (51%) and new business development teams (39%). Professionals will also be hired to help with risk (31%) and compliance (27%). This is as a result of the fact that the top three reasons for increasing financial services teams were given as new projects and initiatives (53%), domestic business growth or expansion (44%) and new market penetration (40%).


Growth continues to be on the agenda for finance and accounting leaders, with 86% of CFOs and FDs stating they are confident with their company’s growth prospects. Consequently, when it comes to hiring trends, the proportion of CFOs who say they will expand their teams in the first half of 2016 has grown to 56%, up from 50% in 2015 and from 45% in 2014.


Adding extra headcount is the result of several factors with the most common being new projects and initiatives (52%). This was followed by new market penetration (43%), product or service expansion (39%) and domestic and international business expansion (36% and 35% respectively).


Despite the best intentions of UK CFOs and FDs, however, hiring may prove to be difficult, as 90% of respondents stated it is very or somewhat challenging to find skilled professionals.  Finding talented professionals with the right skills is most difficult for those in compliance (21%), accounting (20%) and business / financial analysis (19%) due to the on-going regulatory changes. Similarly to C-suite executives in financial services, CFOs and FDs in finance and accounting state a lack of niche, technical experts (37%) as the main barrier to their hiring plans.


Phil Sheridan, senior managing director of Robert Half UK, said, “The index highlights that senior executives are confident about their growth plans for 2016 and are actively seeking skilled professionals to add to their headcount. This will not only drive up salaries but will also impact on the ever growing  war for talent.


“As demand for employees increases the available talent pipeline will continue to shrink. We therefore advise companies to act fast if they find a candidate with the right skill set and commercial acumen.  The best way to remain competitive in the hiring process is to ensure salaries are benchmarked and your existing employees are looked after – either by additional perks such as flexible working, or by hiring temporary resources to help ease the pressure of workloads”.


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