The decade from 2005 has been witness to unprecedented change in banking and financial services. How has the City’s employment landscape changed over this decade, not just in terms of raw numbers but also in terms of culture and skills? Has London’s pre-eminence as a global financial centre been threatened by the rise of new markets in the East, particularly Singapore and Hong Kong?
This report brings together robust data from one of the City’s leading financial services recruiters with expert views from those at the sharp end of hiring and shaping the financial services workforce of the future.
Morgan McKinley has been collecting and publishing monthly data that show both the numbers of professionals seeking new roles in the City and numbers of open opportunities.
The London Employment Monitor is now ten years old.
- From 2005 – 2014, there were a total of 665,306 Financial Services (FS) roles and 1,515,017 professionals seeking roles in London*
- Number of new roles peaked in 2007 with 112,547 new jobs
- Number of professionals seeking new roles peaked in 2011
- Recruitment fell sharply in 2009, with just 46,353 new jobs but 2013 saw the largest drop in the number of new roles at 33,653 – just 30% of the 2007 job number peak
- The number of professional job seekers was predictably high in 2007 (201,670) but this figure was beaten in 2011 when a spike in those seeking new roles hit a record 203,687
- Recruitment since 2011, both in numbers of new roles and those seeking them, has not returned to pre-crisis levels. Total numbers of those seeking roles was 111,515 (2014) almost half the peak levels of 2011 and new jobs in 2014 were down 64% on the peak year of 2007, but 21% up on 2013
“It is evident that the last decade has been one of two extremes,” says HakanEnver, Operations Director, Financial Services for Morgan McKinley. “This in-depth review of our data shows us how the financial crisis didn’t just deliver a single blow to hiring activity in 2009, but has also continued to affect both numbers of jobs and those professionals seeking to move during the subsequent period.
“What we don’t necessarily see from the data however, are the seismic shifts in priorities and skills required by employers. Regulation, globalisation and diversity are now changing the shape of the talent being sought and hired.”
The financial crisis and its aftermath
During the period 2008 and 2009, there was a sudden wave of job losses and hiring freezes that brought an end to a decade of continual annual growth in London’s financial services and business services sector, reported to be 6% per annum. It is evident from our data that from as early as 2007, the number of job opportunities available was decreasing. The catalyst for the numbers to fall even further was back in August 2007, when BNP Paribas terminated withdrawals from three hedge funds citing “a complete evaporation of liquidity“. A bubble had formed in the market and with many banks heavily invested in US mortgages, suddenly found themselves at huge risk of loss. Within weeks, there were the well reported queues outside Northern Rock branches, the first run on a leading UK bank for over 200 years.
Enver says “in April 2009, the G20 summit committed $5 billion of combined stimulus to the global economy. Much of this, along with the various monetary policies within each G20 nation, was the main reason for the global recession to bottom out in 2009. This partly explains why the data shows a rise in job opportunities during that year. Whilst 2010 had a slight return in confidence, this was short lived, with the job availability declining, and continuing to do so for the following three years. On the flip side, the number of professionals actively seeking employment from 2009 to 2011 rose. A proportion of this is explained by the number of redundancies made in the market during that time. In 2013, the CBI employer’s group stated that around 132,000 jobs had been lost in finance and insurance since the downturn began. Six or seven years post-crisis, there continues to be reports of job losses in the City.”
“From the moment JP Morgan acquired Bear Stearns for $10 a share in March 2008, through to Lehman’s eventual collapse six months later, the world’s economies would not function the same way again.” continues Enver. “The shifts in the shape of many of our client organisations have continued to impact on the hiring environment, as skills, such as risk and compliance become ascendant, while elsewhere whole teams have been removed.”
In 2008/9, the Treasury injected £37 billion of new capital into Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, Lloyds TSB and HBOS PLC, to avert financial sector collapse. Compliance hiring fluctuated until 2010, when the first wave of new regulations such as Dodd Frank saw hiring steadily increase once again. Further new regulations such as MiFID 2, EMIR, AIFMD and RDR and large anti money laundering sanctions and fines dealt by the regulator and US Treasury’s OCC saw firms’ compliance teams grow to unprecedented levels by 2013 and 2014.
Paul Murphy, director of recruitment, EMEA, at Royal Bank of Canada, says, “There was an overall shrinking and retrenchment in certain market areas – sub-prime, complex derivatives – that happened almost immediately post-Lehman. People who were kept on were simply winding those businesses down. As regulation followed, those able to combine product knowledge with compliance skills were highly – and remain highly – sought after.”
Some jobs simply moved home. “We can see how over this period, there was a migration of roles – especially middle and back office roles – from west to east. Now, we see those roles moving back from Singapore and Hong Kong to the UK and US as economic recovery gains momentum” says Richie Holliday, chief operations officer, Morgan McKinley, Asia Pacific.
The increasing specialisation that followed the financial crisis, in which banking behemoths sought to become more focused in their activities, has still provided some new opportunities,
Murphy, for example, says that Royal Bank of Canada is now, “moving into sectors that have been de-emphasised by other banks, where our product capability, credit rating and broad client base gives us competitive advantage.”
The changing balance of global economic power has also shifted in this time-frame from west to east, and this has affected client-facing specialisms. “We have seen private wealth management move from its traditional homes in London, Switzerland and New York to China where new wealth is seeking a more sophisticated financial platform,” reports Andrew Evans, chief operations officer, at Morgan McKinley, South Asia.
Additionally, not all roles are suited to US and European natives keen to take an international assignment. “In China to be successful in private client work, you must be native, a fluent Mandarin speaker, so there is a limited talent pool,” says Evans.
Remuneration and bonuses
Gordon Gecko’s infamous assertion that “Greed is Good” has been widely blamed for fuelling the financial crisis and putting the brakes on bonuses has been a regulatory priority, particularly in Europe.In October, 2008 Gordon Brown declared, “The day of big bonuses is over,” but was he right?
In 2013 the EU passed legislation that would cap bonuses at 100% of salary. The UK has vehemently opposed moves to cap pay, arguing that it will lead to a talent drain and reduce the City’s competitiveness in the global talent battle as rival jurisdictions (New York and Singapore, for example) can pay star performers what they like. Many believe fixed pay will also increase compensation considerably.
According to figures from HM Revenues and Customs, the finance sector (across the UK) paid out £67.6bn in bonuses between 2008/9 and 2012/13. London is still considered the main financial hub of the world. People want to move to London from all over the world, and we see many international professionals with excellent CVs looking to relocate,” says Enver. “The impact of bonus capping so far has not been as dramatic as had originally been expected.”
Despite this, bonuses continue to exercise the media and the public. “Remuneration and salary inflation,” says Enver, “reflects the market of supply and demand. We see professionals who can combine product knowledge with strong regulatory expertise commanding ever-higher remuneration packages. The number of executives who take home six figure bonuses is still relatively small and tends to falsify the overall picture of compensation in the banking sector.”
Banking culture – has it changed?
According to the CCP Research Foundation, between 2009 and 2013 the global banking industry managed to incur £166bn in fines, settlement fees and provisions. Many of the largest fines represented in this figure relate to the underlying causes of the financial crisis itself – sub-prime mortgage backed securities, for example.
But, as Libor rate manipulation and FX market fixing shows, banking culture does not appear to have changed as much as it needs to.
But for all the negative news, those in the driving seat of making hiring decisions, say that culture is changing. “There has been a change in focus at all levels of the people I see,” says Royal Bank of Canada’s Murphy. “Before the financial crisis there was a desire to move upwards as fast as possible. Now the motivation for joining the bank is more about balance sheet strength, our history. Culture is key. Pre-financial crisis, no-one would have asked about the culture of the bank. Now it’s the first question I am asked.”
An increasingly important aspect of culture change is diversity. Dina de Angelo, director, at Pictet, the Swiss private bank, says, “Institutions that have a broad palette of financial services – an investment banking business sitting next to a private client business – still exert a great deal of pressure on women to be able to cope with tricky environments, although this is not the case at Pictet.”
She says women hired for senior positions are quizzed on their ability to cope. “The implication is that women have to adapt, not that the culture or environment will change,” says de Angelo.
For all the difficulties, “diversity has leapt up the hiring agenda,” says Enver. In UK banking and financial services, where diversity is seen as a priority, there continues to be a dearth of suitably qualified women, particularly at senior levels. There has been a huge drive from a number of the major banks to focus on diversity.”
Morgan Stanley for example, has a wide range of recruiting events some of which are exclusively for women. These are presented in collaboration with the firm’s internal networking groups as well as non-profit partners in the interbank community.
De Angelo comments, “The key rests with each individual woman. I’m a ‘lean in’ person. I prefer to spend my time and energy focusing on what I can do to make a difference because if I make a difference for myself I can make a difference for all the other women in my organisation.”
Murphy sees diversity as an absolute hiring priority too. “We want to see women on all of our shortlists, whatever the role,” he says. “We have been committed to diversity for a long time. We have focused our efforts on bringing high numbers of women into banking at graduate level, but, as with all organisations our efforts now are focused on developing and promoting women through the organisation to create successful role models.
“The chair of our global diversity committee is our CEO – that’s how seriously we take this issue. It’s not a tag-on to HR: it’s a business issue.”
‘We as recruiters recognise the huge value we can and need to add here. We use our expertise and resources to source talent from multiple channels and this plays a vital part in supporting our clients’ search for an increasingly diverse work force’ says David Leithead, Managing Director of Morgan McKinley, London.
London’s long history of international trade, the strength of its deposits, equity trading and fund management, continues to place it at the forefront of global finance.
Enver says, “London continues to be an attractive place to live and work for high-achieving professionals. Many institutions are committed to growing their presence both domestically and internationally, investing in core and profitable functions. Banks have gone back to basics, looking at their strengths and building on those, whilst assessing their weaknesses and minimising them.
“Ongoing regulation is helping to make the banking industry a safer place, by ensuring more robust contingency plans are in place. By holding more capital and a sufficient level of liquid assets, enhancing their risk management systems and reporting financial positions accurately and efficiently, banks hope that are now able to withstand tough shocks to the system and thus limit systemic risk in the market.
“The talent pool required to drive many business units has changed, with strong technical knowledge, deep regulatory awareness and more often than not, a minimum of one European language, being preferred. Shortly after the crisis, when banks cut back on their graduate hiring, they have since increased their appetite to recruit at this level.
An increase in 2014 in the number of jobs, compared to 2013, clearly suggests a return in confidence to the market, but there still exists some uncertainty as we head into 2015. The recent crash in oil prices, geo-political risks – particularly Russia/Ukraine, ongoing volatility in the Eurozone (including a potential Grexit), as well as continued cyber threats to the banking industry, are a few concerns that could displace London’s foothold as a leading financial centre.
“Despite this, the last few years have seen unprecedented change in the sector. Not only has regulation dictated how much of the industry now operates, but we have also seen a dramatic change in the kind of professional our clients see – which we believe will continue to form the hiring landscape over the next decade. Whilst there will always exist some form of outside risk, the industry is now well-advanced on a process of recovery and evolution, and its institutions are much stronger as a result. Therefore, Morgan McKinley predicts a positive outlook for the short to medium terms as hiring returns to levels witnessed in previous years.”
Chart: Professionals seeking new roles in Financial Services, both in and out of employment, London
ECB launches small climate-change unit to lead Lagarde’s green push
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank is setting up a small team dedicated to climate change to spearhead its efforts to help the transition to a greener economy in the euro zone, ECB President Christine Lagarde said on Monday.
Lagarde has made the environment a priority since taking the helm at the ECB, taking a number of steps to include climate considerations in the central bank’s work as the euro zone’s banking watchdog and main financial institution.
She is now creating a team of around 10 ECB employees, reporting directly to her, to set the central bank’s agenda on climate-related topics.
“The climate change centre provides the structure we need to tackle the issue with the urgency and determination that it deserves,” Lagarde said in a speech.
She said that climate change belonged in the ECB’s remit as it could affect inflation and obstruct the flow of credit to the economy.
The ECB said earlier on Monday it would invest some of its own funds, which total 20.8 billion euros ($25.3 billion) and include capital paid in by euro zone countries, reserves and provisions, in a green bond fund run by the Bank for International Settlement.
More significantly, ECB policymakers are also debating what role climate considerations should play in the institution’s multi-trillion euro bond-buying programme.
So far the ECB has bought corporate bonds based on their outstanding amounts but Lagarde has said the bank might have to consider a more active approach to correct the market’s failure to price in climate risk.
“Our strategy review enables us to consider more deeply how we can continue to protect our mandate in the face of (climate) risks and, at the same time, strengthen the resilience of monetary policy and our balance sheet,” Lagarde said.
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Francesco Canepa and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)
What to expect in 2021: Top trends shaping the future of transportation
By Lee Jones, Director of Sales – Grocery, QSR and Selected Accounts for Northern Europe at Ingenico, a Worldline brand
The pandemic has reinforced the need for businesses to undergo digital transformation, which is pivotal in the digital economy. In 2020, we saw the shift to online and cashless payments accelerated as a result of increased social distancing and nationwide restrictions.
The biggest challenge on all businesses into 2021 will be how they continue to adapt and react to the ever changing new normal we are all experiencing. In this context, what should we expect this year and beyond, in terms of developments across key sectors, including transport, parking and electric vehicle (EV) charging?
Mobility as a service (MaaS) and the future of transportation
Social distancing and lockdown measures have brought about a real change in public habits when it comes to transportation. In the last three months alone, we have seen commuter journeys across the globe reduce by at least 70%, while longer-distance travel has fallen by up to 90%. With it, cash withdrawals for payment has drastically reduced by 60%.
Technological advancements, alongside open payments, have unlocked new possibilities across multiple industries and will continue to have a strong impact. Furthermore, travellers are expecting more as part of their basic service. Tap and pay is one of the biggest evolutions in consumer payments. Bringing ease and simplicity to everyday tasks, consumers have welcomed this development to the transport journey. In-app payments are also on the rise, offering customers the ability to plan ahead and remain assured that they have everything they need, in one place, for every leg of their journey. Many local transport networks now have their own apps with integrated timetables, payments, and ticket download capabilities. These capabilities are being enabled by smaller more portable terminals for transport staff, and self-scanning ticketing devices are streamlining the process even further.
Ultimately, the end goal for many transport providers is MaaS – providing an easy and frictionless all-encompassing transport system that guides consumers through the whole journey, no matter what mode of travel they choose. Additionally, payment will remain the key orchestrator that will drive further developments in the transportation and MaaS ecosystems in 2021. What remains critical is balancing the need for a fast and convenient payment with safety and data privacy in order to deliver superior customer experiences.
The EV charging market and the accelerating pace of change
The EV charging market is moving quickly and represents a large opportunity for payments in the future. EVs are gradually becoming more popular, with registrations for EVs overtaking those of their diesel counterparts for the first time in European history this year. What’s more, forecasts indicate that by 2030, there will be almost 42 million public charging points deployed worldwide, as compared with 520,000 registered in 2019.
Our experience and expertise in this industry have enabled us to better understand but also address the challenges and complexities of fuel and EV payments. The current alternating current (AC) based chargers are set to be replaced by their direct charging (DC) counterparts, but merchants must still be able to guarantee payment for the charging provider. Power always needs to be converted from AC to DC when charging an electric vehicle, the technical difference between AC charging and DC charging is whether the power gets converted outside or inside the vehicle.
By offering innovative payment solutions to this market segment, we enable service operators to incorporate payments smoothly into their omnichannel customer experience that also allows businesses to easily develop acceptance and provide a unique omnichannel strategy for EV charging payments. From proximity to online payments, it will support businesses by offering a unique hardware solution optimized for PSD2 and SCA. It will manage both near field communication (NFC) cards and payments from cards/smartphones, as well as a single interface to manage all payments, after sales support and receipt with both ePortal and eReceipts.
Cashless options for parking payments
The ‘new normal’ is now partly defined by a shift in consumer preference for cashless, contactless and mobile or embedded payments. These are now the preferred payment choices when it comes to completing the check-in and check-out process. They are a time-saver and a more seamless way to pay.
Drivers are more self-reliant and empowered than ever before, having adopted technologies that work to make their life increasingly efficient. COVID-19 has given rise to both ePayment and omnichannel solutions gaining in popularity. This has been due to ticketless access control based on license plate recognition or the tap-in/tap-out experience, as well as embedded payments or mobile solutions for street parking.
These smart solutions help consider parking services more broadly as a part of overall mobility or shopping experience. Therefore, operators must rapidly adapt and scale new operational practices; accept electronic payment, update new contactless limits, introduce additional payments means, refund the user or even to reflect changing customer expectations to keep pace.
2021: the journey ahead
This year, we expect to see an even greater shift towards a cashless society across these key sectors, making the buying experience quicker and more convenient overall.
As a result, merchants and operators must make the consumer experience their top priority as trends shift towards simplicity and convenience, ensuring online and mobile payments processes are as secure as possible.
Opportunities and challenges facing financial services firms in 2021
By Paul McCreadie, Partner at ECI Partners, the leading growth-focused mid-market private equity firm
Despite 2020 being an enormously disruptive year for businesses, our latest Growth Index research reveals that almost three quarters (74%) of mid-market financial services companies remained resilient throughout the pandemic.
This is positive news, especially when taking into account the economic disruption that financial services firms have had to go through since the crisis began. No doubt 2021 will also hold its own challenges – as well as opportunities – for firms in this sector.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest short-term concern for financial firms for the year ahead involved changing pandemic guidance, with 42% citing this as a top concern. With the UK currently experiencing a third lockdown many financial services businesses will have already had to adapt to rapidly changing guidance, even since being surveyed.
Businesses will also be considering the need to invest in working from home operations, and there may be uncertainty over re-opening offices on a permanent basis. According to the research 30% of financial services firms are planning to adopt remote working on a permanent basis, so decisions need to be made now about whether they invest more in enabling staff to do this, or in their current office premises.
Due to Brexit, UK financial services firms are no longer able to passport their services into Europe, which may cause problems, particularly in the next 12 months as the Brexit deal is ironed out and the agreement is put into practice. Despite this, Brexit was only cited by 24% of financial firms as a short-term concern. While it’s comforting to see that UK financial firms aren’t hugely concerned about Brexit at this juncture, it is going to be vital for the ongoing success of the industry that the UK is able to get straightforward access to Europe and operate there without issue, otherwise we may see these concern levels rise.
Looking ahead to longer-term concerns for financial services businesses, the top concern was global economic downturn, of which 40% of firms cited this as a worry when looking beyond 2021.
Investing and adopting tech
Traditionally, the financial services sector has been slow to adopt digital transformation. Issues with legacy systems, coupled with often large amounts of data and a reluctance to undertake potentially risky change processes, have meant many firms are behind the curve when it comes to technology adoption. It’s therefore promising to see that so much has changed over the last year, with 45% of financial services firms having invested in AI and machine learning technology – making it the top sector to have invested in this space over the last 12 months.
One business that exemplifies the benefits of investing in machine learning is Avantia, the technology-enabled insurance provider behind HomeProtect. The business has undergone a large tech transformation in the last few years, investing in an underlying machine learning platform and an in-house data science team, which provides them with capabilities to return a quote to over 98% of applicants in under one second. This tech investment has allowed them to become more scalable, provide a more stable platform, improve customer service and consequently, grow significantly.
This demonstrates how this kind of tech can help businesses to leverage tech in order to offer a better customer experience, and retain and grow market share through winning new customers. This resilience should combat some of the concerns that firms will face in the next year.
Additionally, half (51%) of financial services firms have invested in cybersecurity tech over the last year, which allows them to protect the platforms on which they operate and ensure ongoing provision of solutions to their customers.
Clearly, there is a benefit of international revenues and profits on business resilience. In practice, this meant that businesses that weren’t internationally diversified in 2020 struggled more during the pandemic. In fact, the businesses considered to be the least resilient through the 2020 crisis were three times more likely to only operate domestically.
Perhaps an attribute towards financial services firms’ resilience in 2020, therefore, was the fact that 53% already had a presence in Europe throughout 2020 and 38% had a presence in North America. This internationalisation gave them an advantage that allowed them to weather the many storms of 2020.
Looking at how to capitalise on this throughout the rest of 2021, half (51%) of are planning overseas growth in Europe over the next 12 months, and 43% in North America. Further plans to expand internationally is not only a good sign for growth, but should further increase resilience within the sector.
While there are many concerns, the fact that financial services businesses are investing in technology like AI and machine learning, as well as still planning to grow internationally, means that they are providing themselves with the best chances of dealing with any upcoming challenges effectively.
In order to maintain their growth and resilience throughout the next 12 months, it’s imperative that they continue to put their customers first, invest in technology and remain on the front foot of digital change.
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