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Preparations for post-Brexit Britain and IR35 top the list of concerns for UK hiring

Morgan McKinley has released its 2020 Salary Guide for the UK showing how 2019 was a turbulent year for businesses, with hiring across many industries suffering at the hands of Brexit.  


Despite all the political and economic turbulence, some professions - tax, public practice, risk, investment management and legal - remained largely resilient, with vacancy numbers and salaries relatively similar to previous years. Some areas saw an increase in jobs outside the UK; namely the Netherlands, France and Germany, with professionals wanting to move to other large financial hubs or being headhunted to take their knowledge and expertise out to growing markets.


The 2020 Salary Guide found that the confidence to hire and move jobs was influenced by Brexit, other political uncertainty and changes around IR35. Recruitment processes were slower, with organisations hesitant to commit to decisions around new recruits or implementing hiring freezes and fewer professionals looking to move jobs. Across the sectors, the guide revealed that the impending changes to IR35 legislation led to fewer temporary roles as organisations prepared for the April 2020 deadline.


 Key 2020 Salary Guide highlights: 


  • -  Accounting and finance: Continued offshoring across banking meant finance jobs left in London were increasingly specialist, whilst in commerce, hiring was prolific around finance projects
  • -  Investment management: Significant hiring of senior level finance professionals into investment management in London
  • -  Compliance: Fewer regulatory projects meant less hiring of compliance professionals
  • -  Financial service operations: Banks and asset managers reluctant to hire until there’s more Brexit clarity
  • -  HR: Demand for those with experience of managing and supporting change as businesses sought people to navigate through the uncertainty  
  • -  IT audit and risk: Uptick in firms looking to bolster and upskill in-house functions to improve capability in IT audit/risk as well as electronic and algo trading audit
  • -  IT: Focus on Java front office tech, data scientists, test automation and architecture roles
  • -  Legal: Hiring of qualified solicitors was significant as strong legal support was required. Large financial businesses continued building legal functions across London and surge of lawyers looking to leave practice as they sought a better work-life balance
  • -  Marketing: Demand for fluency in foreign languages, predominantly Italian and German, as well as increased desire for European markets knowledge
  • -  Office support: Demand for customer services professionals and personal assistants with European language skills
  • -  Public practice: More diverse roles, with mid-tier and independent firms offering newly qualified accountants salaries above the Big 4 and Top 10 firms
  • -  Risk: Desire to hire strategic risk roles remained - programming skills, strong levels of pricing, exceptional financial mathematics, Stochastic calculus, local volatility modelling and product knowledge were sought after
  • -  Sales: Start-up and growing firms paid higher base salaries to attract the best talent away from established businesses. Increasing demand for business development specialists with fluent language skills, specifically European 
  • -  Projects & change: Increase in permanent hires for technology focused projects which require a long term strategy to future proof against challenger banks and prevent loss of customers to firms like Monzo, Revolut and Starling Bank
  • -  Procurement: Cost savings and value for money remained key factors as organisations looked to improve performance and increase engagement from existing suppliers
  • -  Tax: Global tax environment continued to develop, making clear the complex challenges faced. Making tax digital was a key feature, with digitalisation disrupting traditional business models and changing the ways in which businesses interact with stakeholders


David Leithead, chief operations officer of Morgan McKinley UK, commented, “The most prominent theme throughout 2019 was how Brexit caused uncertainty, with employers reluctant to commit to hiring and job seekers hesitant to make the leap when opportunities materialised. The quantity of jobs available and hires completed were heavily impacted, as reported in the results of the major PLC recruiters. Another spectre hanging over the workforce in the private sector is the reform of IR35 which will likely result in a negative transformation of the private sector contracting landscape, at least in the short term.


“According to Bank of England research, UK businesses expect more clarity in 2020. A key question is whether demand has become pent up in the system, in which case we could see a spike in hiring and an escalating war for talent in 2020. Like many recruitment companies in the UK, we hope for a more positive market in 2020. There will be challenges but also lots of opportunities.” 


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