Financial services companies looking to grow headcounts

Friday 13 June 2014

Financial services businesses are looking to grow their headcounts, according to new research.

The 'Remoulding your workforce for a new marketplace' report from PwC showed chief executive officers (CEOs) in the sector have their minds on hiring, with 56 per cent claiming they intend to take on extra staff this year.

This is much higher than other parts of the industry, indicating financial contractors would do well to focus their efforts on financial services.

PwC observed that CEOs are hoping to increase their headcount by at least five per cent, as is the insurance industry. Just 30 per cent of banks and asset managers intend to do this.

While the intent to hire isn't robust in the financial sector overall, the willingness of financial services CEOs to take on more staff is good news after criticism hit the sector over lowering contractor rates.

Kevin Burrowes, PwC’s UK financial services leader, commented: "Optimism has increased as the recovery in the UK picks up pace and confidence in the financial services sector rises. However, the kind of talent organisations need, where they recruit them from, and how they manage them will be different from the last surge in recruitment and growth. The influence of increased financial services regulation is also becoming clearer in hiring decisions, and we are seeing companies ramp up employment of compliance officers at a rate we have not seen before."

The skills needed by financial services companies are also proving to be diverse, with many businesses looking for people from internet, social media and specialist analytics businesses. Even game designers are becoming sought after employees, as financial services firms try to improve their digital presence and engagement levels.

Mr Burrowes explained that more than 60 per cent of CEOs are concerned about cyber attacks and their effect on growth. Consequently, they are looking for people with intelligence backgrounds or even ex-hackers.

"It’s critical to ensure that cyber security is everyone’s business, rather than just IT – with implications for training and appraisal," he added.

However, figures suggest that CEOs, while increasing hiring, are doing little to address skills shortages within the sector.

PwC observed that 60 per cent of CEOs see limited skill availability as a threat to growth, but only a quarter of respondents have changed their talent strategy and just 35 per cent of HR professionals are willing to make adjustments.

This is due to restrictions created by the sheer scale of the changes needed, according to the report. Others also find it challenging to respond to changing talent trends and problems.

Jon Terry, global financial services HR consulting leader, PwC, concluded: "Financial services organisations need to start communicating their brand more widely – including to people from government, industry and technology companies."

He claims HR has to be at the front of these changes to help determine what skills will be needed and creating different ways to "engage and motivate people".

Contractors can also play a key role in managing the skills shortage but in order to attract talent, the financial sector will need to become more competitive.

By Victoria McDonnell

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