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2016 year of mixed fortunes for UK professionals, reveals Morgan McKinley

Morgan McKinley has revealed in its 2017 UK Salary Guide that 2016 was one of mixed fortunes for professionals in the UK.

David Leithead, chief operations officer of Morgan McKinley, said, “Uncertainty was the overriding sentiment in the UK business sector last year. We saw the impact of that in reduced volumes of job vacancies in many industry segments, particularly permanent roles in the larger employers, for whom the political and economic backdrop meant an unprecedented level of scrutiny over headcount levels and hiring decisions. As a consequence the professional temp market inevitably saw better conditions. For the moment this balance is likely to continue.

“Every year recruiters mark a new zenith in the rise of the specialist, and this report is once again full of examples of big wage increases being needed to attract the specialist skills that hirers seek. Of course, the very fact these specialists exist is a reassurance to those concerned about the UK's future post Brexit - increasingly it is the assuredness of the supply of talent, above all else, that decides where an employer will base itself and the UK will always remain competitive in this area.”

Key Morgan McKinley UK 2017 Salary Guide highlights:

Accounting & finance

  • There has been strong demand across the board throughout the year for newly-qualified accountants, and specifically auditors making their first move into industry.
  • A number of the larger banks kept low volumes of hiring, due to critical-hire-only policies, but the small to mid-tier institutions have maintained a steady flow. 
  • Owing to increasing demand on businesses to comply with changing regulations, candidates with a confident technical understanding of IFRS are becoming increasingly popular. Job seekers with IFRS15 IFRS16 experience can potentially gain a premium over their peers.
  • Our interim and qualified contract divisions received a broad selection of roles, with analytical and commercial finance support roles dominating their mandate in 2016. 
  • We saw a 24% increase compared to 2015 in FP&A positions as businesses continue to invest this area, seeking clarity on the long-term projections and possible threats in asset management


  • Regulatory change has driven a lot of the recruitment that we saw over the year, with MAR in July, many firms invested heavily in bolstering their surveillance teams.
  • Throughout the second half of the year we have seen firms hiring MiFID II specialists with an eye on January 2018, when the legislation comes into play.
  • Salary increases are healthy, but not at the lofty levels that we saw in 2015, where professionals could expect anything upward of 20%.
  • The multitude of regulations impacting compliance teams has seen employers requesting specialist knowledge of these regulations from new hires, we expect this area to continue to grow in 2017.
  • With GDPR coming into effect on the 25th May 2018, we have seen a number of firms within financial services hire in this space. They are predominantly looking at two types of people:
    1. Project managers, who have experience of working on implementing privacy policies
    2. Privacy SMEs, these individuals are mainly coming from a legal background with recent experience in privacy. Due to the competitive nature of this area, employers are considering candidates with privacy experience from different industries.

Risk management

  • The year saw an increase in hiring in the quantitative risk space, mainly around the model validation and methodology areas.
  • We saw good levels of recruitment in the operational risk space, namely around 2nd line of defence projects.
  • We anticipate that 2017 will largely mirror these trends, with quantitative risk again expected to be the main area of hiring, particularly with incoming regulatory changes.  
  • Basel compliance deadlines have been pushed back and are again at risk of falling further behind – nonetheless junior individuals with this knowledge are creating competition between institutions and pushing up salary brackets significantly.
  • From a change perspective, we are seeing a greater requirement for senior business analysts across data-centric projects around FDSF and BCBS239.


  • On the whole, salaries have remained flat and senior level candidates have had to be particularly flexible - those out of work often having to accept a drop on their previous package - due to lower job flow and increased competition.
  • Generally, candidates will expect to receive a 10% increase upon changing roles. In some instances, however, there have been notable salary hikes driven by niche skill sets and candidate shortages at certain levels of experience.
  • Newly qualified candidates remain simultaneously the most elusive and the most in demand. We have seen the Big 4 hire candidates with profiles they may not have even considered for interview as recently as a few years ago.
  • We have seen multiple examples of large corporations hiring candidates for permanent positions on the (two-year) Tier 5 Visa having exhausted their options (or patience) in searching for a UK trained equivalent. The fact that so many companies are showing willingness to pursue this option demonstrates the shortage of UK trained candidates emerging from training contracts.


  • 2016 was a fantastic year of growth and opportunity for marketing professionals across financial services, technology and retail industries.
  • Marketing is becoming a higher-priority on C-suite executives’ growth plans, with team sizes increasing up to 50% and budgets becoming healthier.
  • This stands in stark contrast with previous years and moves away from the trend of cost-cutting and redundancies.


  • Demand for specialist recruiters, within areas such as technology, was noticeably higher as companies looked to grow their IT divisions within projects, development and cyber security.
  • The second half of 2016 saw demand for recruitment specialists within London’s technology sector. With many of the key players in this sector announcing extensive growth plans for 2017, the hiring for technical recruitment specialists started early as companies looked to get ahead of their competitors to grow teams in line with strategic ambitions.

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