THE “unstoppable rise” of new regulation in the UK financial services marketplace is driving significant growth of new roles, according to the 2013 Robert Half Financial Services Salary Guide.

While hiring has not returned to pre-recession levels, talent gaps exist and signal a warning for what might be a more significant challenge in the future, particularly in regulation, risk and compliance, it adds.

Robert Half reports that much of the new hiring within the financial services sector revolves around business-critical roles, with a mix of mid and senior level talent as well as newly qualified accountants seeing the greatest opportunities.

Companies under pressure to do more with less expect employees to be both specialists and generalists, demonstrating high-level experience and knowledge across multiple areas.

Regulatory change remains top of mind for the financial services sector as companies strive to generate profits as well as achieve compliance with regulation ranging from Solvency II to Basel III and from IFRS to FATCA.

Consequently, there remains a significant need for risk, regulatory and compliance professionals and as demand outweighs supply, companies face increased budgetary pressure to secure the market’s most sought-after individuals.

Changes in the regulatory environment are also having a significant impact on technology, leading to tier one and mid-cap banks citing higher demand for regulatory, risk and finance IT professionals.

The rise in big data has also stimulated demand for data analysts, business intelligence and data/database developers.

The 2013 Salary Guide outlines differences between sub-sectors within financial services:

  • Investment banking: small and medium-sized enterprises have fared favourably, as have those banks focused on emerging markets, commodities or energy
  • Private equity: London in particular shows significant demand for skilled professionals due to further investment, acquisitions and diversification
  • Hedge funds: Hiring has been moderate in volume but consistent across finance, banking operations and IT
  • Asset/investment management: Corporate governance and risk management have been scrutinised by investors, resulting in improved processes and transparency, leading to demand for professionals who can drive the changes
  • Retail and commercial banking: Particular demand exists for those professionals who can help drive new retail initiatives and support augmented risk and compliance departments
  • Insurance: Increased regulation and compliance, along with the Retail Distribution Review, has created additional demand for highly-skilled professionals while pension suite enrolment will add to pressures on the industry in the coming year

Phil Sheridan, managing director, Robert Half Financial Services, said: “According to our research, growth may well be on the horizon.

“Business outlook has improved, with most financial services executives indicating that they are ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ confident in their companies’ growth prospects compared with last year.

“Finance professionals, in particular, are benefitting from this optimism as companies look for additional insight and strategy into business process improvement, cost savings and new sources of revenue.

“More than a million people across the UK work in financial services, representing nearly four per cent of total UK employment. Having up-to-date remuneration data specific to the industry can help organisations determine competitive salary levels, allowing them to recruit and retain the market’s top talent.”