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UK remains financial hub for banking and investment management, Morgan McKinley reveals

Morgan McKinley’s UK 2019 accounting and finance salary guide has revealed that despite Brexit discussions, the UK remains a major financial hub for banking and investment management; hiring was necessary to accommodate for how banks and firms continue to operate within the UK.

A number of high profile mergers and acquisitions resulted in a push to fill commercially focused analytical roles in London, whilst hiring into FinTech organisations continued to increase in the South West for the Accounting and Finance into Commerce and Industry sectors.

Marcus Williams, associate director of financial services at Morgan McKinley, said, "The main trends of 2018 driving accounting & finance recruitment were the demands for strong technical ACA accountants and commercial professionals with extensive experience in budgeting and forecasting. The uncertainty around Brexit and offshoring of finance functions created a sense of hesitation for many individuals to come to market, however those who were keen to move were able to demand a higher compensation package due to a skills shortage.

"In 2018 businesses across all industries were considering their headcount costs and action plans for Brexit in 2019. When hiring, CFOs were much more conscious of their recruitment budgets and increased the focus on bringing in top professionals with an excellent academic record and proven career experience in terms of adding value. There was increased competition for top talent across the markets with many new FinTech companies offering attractive compensation packages and flexible working hours that many individuals were swayed towards when making their decision on job offers.”

Other key highlights were:


  • Challenger and smaller banks increased hiring with financial institutions battling with exciting FinTech companies for high calibre talent
  • Regulations dominated hiring with GDPR and COREP absorbing focus
  • Uplift in demand for specialist hires in areas such as IFRS 9 and IFRS 15, valuations and regulatory reporting across London as hiring managers recognised headcount had to be filled with high calibre professionals
  • Counter-offers were rife, resulting in organisations paying over the odds to retain staff
  • Despite increased hiring, there was a restricted candidate pool
  • Temporary hiring was required off the back of new legislations concerning how banks will operate within the UK

Investment management

  • UK remains a major financial hub and attracts investment
  • Increase in permanent hires, but decrease in contractors compared to previous year: Organisations sought to move contractors to permanent roles
  • ACA retained its prestige, but ACCA and CIMA became popular as hiring managers looked for professionals with hands on accounting and business knowledge
  • Asset management industry addressed gender imbalance at senior management level with a request for balanced shortlists
  • Professionals were attracted to companies that embraced technology such as artificial intelligence and robotics

Commerce & industry

  • Organisations pushed to fill commercially focused analytical roles from high profile acquisitions and mergers
  • ACA qualified candidates continued to be the most attractive qualification
  • Organisations in London were reluctant to hire contractors as a clear preference for permanent employees was seen
  • Decrease in transactional jobs being filled in the Home Counties and decline in professionals actively looking for roles when compared to 2017
  • Positive hiring of qualified finance professionals within SME market
  • FinTech continued its rise to prominence in the South West
  • Demand for international experience and language skills, as well as those with experience of integrating new systems and processes
  • Shortage of skills led to pressures on cash flow and challenges that inhibited growth plans
  • Compelling rise of the FP&A professional - companies in the South West realised the importance of implementing a strategic planning process

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