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UK – Financial services talent war creates retention fears

14 January 2014

UK financial services firms have pushed up salaries as much as +8.9% for top-tier professionals in order to secure the best talent the market has to offer, according to Robert Half's 2014 Financial Services Salary Guide, reports wsandb.co.uk.

The survey found that the so-called ‘war for talent' between firms has created an imbalance, resulting in pay rises for tenured staff not keeping pace with those for new employees.  

Almost all firms (99%) surveyed said that it was challenging to find skilled financial services professionals in the current market. The vast majority (95%) of C-suite executives were concerned about losing top performers, an increase of +28% on last year; while 93% were also worried about losing staff affected by the European Union bonus cap to international opportunities.

According to the Robert Half report, financial regulation had had a significant impact on UK executives' daily routine, with more than nine in 10 (94%) executives saying that the management of regulatory reform was a challenge for their businesses - +14% more than last year.

More than six in 10 (61%) expected the financial workload resulting from regulatory change to increase, with a need to recruit permanent and interim regulatory professionals. As the demand for skilled regulatory accountants outweighed supply, the report predicted salaries that salaries are set to rise in 2014.

Robert Half UK managing director Phil Sheridan said that the financial services industry had undergone a period of "seismic change".

"Firms have had to re-evaluate their business models, bolster capital and find new areas for growth, all under the watchful eye of both the regulators and the public-at-large. This evolution creates opportunities for firms to change public opinion while also pursuing growth and for talented financial services professionals to make a valued contribution. Regulatory demands continue to evolve, increasing workloads and forcing firms to balance compliance with the pursuit of growth strategies," he said.

Mr Sheridan added that firms should look at their overall benefits package to retain key staff rather than just focusing on remuneration: "Financial services businesses are realising that demand for the most highly skilled talent is outweighing supply, particularly within niche specialisms. Firms looking to attract the market's most sought-after professionals know that financial remuneration is only one factor affecting candidates' decisions”.

"As employees aim to balance work and life commitments, offering a comprehensive benefits package - often flexible and tailored to each employee's preferences - is helping companies position themselves as great places to work," he concluded.

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