Finance contractors to benefit from confidence rise

Friday 30 August 2013

Fresh optimism in the financial services and accounting industry is likely to lead to more opportunities for contractors, as new research has found that both jobs and confidence rose in the first half of this year.

The latest Accelerate Report from recruiter Experis shows July was a positive month for the finance industry. Considerable improvement in the job market led the way, as both permanent and contract vacancies shot up between February and last month. While the number of permanent roles available climbed by 26 per cent over the period, it was fixed-term and interim opportunities that increased by the biggest margin - there were 46 per cent more contracts available in July than there had been a few months earlier, indicating that firms are still looking to flexible workers to help them cope with rising demand.

Expanding headcounts are a strong indication of burgeoning confidence in the sector and in the UK as a whole, says the report.

“This data reflects an economy in recovery, albeit a cautious one,” explains Clive Allen, Experis Finance’s managing director.

Between June and July, permanent vacancies rose by 8.5 per cent alone, a sign that business confidence has mirrored the return to slight growth in the UK economy in recent months. Companies often prefer to use temporary staff if they are experiencing short-term spikes in demand, hence a rise in permanent hires suggests businesses are looking towards an extended period of growth in the future. In turn, this is likely to mean better stability for contractors in the finance industry.

Professional and business services firms are enjoying strong performance at the moment, according to recent research from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). The survey found that professional services, including accountants and financial services as well as legal, marketing and other disciplines, saw business volumes rise at the most dramatic rate since November 2007. In addition, optimism about the future reached its highest level for 15 years, supporting the notion that the finance sector could be at the start of an upturn.

Significantly, the Experis report highlights that risk and compliance is the business area receiving the most attention, largely as a result of tightening regulation within the banking, accounting and financial services industries. In the UK, the most important change has been the introduction of the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority, which were established in April to act as industry watchdogs.

“With the recent implementation of stricter regulatory guidelines from both the FCA and PRA, it is now more critical than ever that the larger financial conglomerates have in-house governance and risk teams which are very much fit-for-purpose and forward thinking,” says Mr Allen.

Specialist skills are in acute demand at the highest levels of business, too, suggesting that contractors with plenty of experience and uncommon expertise may be able to take advantage of a bigger pool of opportunities. Mr Allen notes: “We are seeing more clients demanding specialist skills be brought at senior levels in their organisations, as they look towards a positive future with a more strategic approach to talent than we may have previously seen.”

By Victoria McDonnell

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