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Financial services firms hiring flexible interims to safeguard earnings

by uma

As the demand for financial services talent continues apace, CFOs have warned that the spiralling upward wage rises cannot be sustained if profits are to be protected, the latest findings from specialist recruitment firm Robert Half reveal.

The firm’s 2023 Salary Guide, which analyses and reports on market salaries, hiring trends, and skills requirements across the UK, found that salaries in the sector have increased albeit the rate of growth of wage inflation has slowed – a trend that is expected to continue into 2023. According to 1 in 5 CFOs the salary rises cannot continue at this rate, with 19% saying that profits will be severely dented.

However, with the data also revealing that the demand for talent rages on, with candidates often having the luxury of juggling multiple job offers, firms will need to find alternatives to financial incentives. Over a quarter of finance leaders surveyed (27%) reported that they have used counter offers as a retention tactic with 43% of candidates accepting the improved contractual terms. In terms of roles, client services associates, trade support clerks, investment management operations and credit operations specialists were the most highly sought after.

Interim appointments

Interestingly, 1 in 5 businesses are hiring interims – with over half (54%) filling their vacancies this way. This growing trend would suggest that while companies are loathed to add to their permanent headcount given current market conditions, they recognise the value of skilled interims who are able to hit the ground running and deliver on business critical projects.

As for preferred working patterns, the hybrid model is the most widely deployed – 70% of financial services firms surveyed allow their workers to split their time between home and the office. Many businesses in the sector are allowing their employees to choose how and where they work – the most popular arrangement is the 3:2 model: three days in the office and two at home. The findings reveal that workers would happily choose to stay home on more days.

Caroline King, Director of Permanent Talent Solutions, at Robert Half, commented:

“Digital transformation and increased financial and regulation technology are rapidly transforming career opportunities in the UK financial sector, which continues to expand despite Brexit, the pandemic and robust, global competition. Salaries in the sector are unlikely to fall anytime soon although they have stabilised after meteoric rises over the last 12 months. To remain agile, many businesses are shifting their hiring strategies to focus more on interim talent, which offers more flexibility, and also protects the bottom line.

“Competition for talent remains extremely high as companies battle it out not only to attract but also retain their top people. This is evidenced by the use of counter offers, which appears to be paying dividends as nearly half of candidates are accepting improved terms. It’s also not surprising to learn that a hybrid model is the most widely used in a sector where employees want the freedom to decide where they work. That message must be heeded by employers across the sector for 2023 and beyond.”

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