City jobs up 25%

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Specialist financial recruitment firm Astbury Marsden recently released a study that revealed that the number of London city jobs increased by 25% last month compared with a year ago.

The report comes after the UK economy grew by 1.8% in 2013, its fastest pace in six years and the clearest sign yet that a recovery is actually underway. It’s not something that is restricted to the UK either, with global economies also appearing to be recovering from the financial meltdown and the eurozone crisis, with growth picking up across the world.

“The confident mood is underlined by the fact that the banks have shrugged off recent emerging market wobbles and remain upbeat about the long-term prospects for developed economies,” said Mark Cameron, chief operating officer at Astbury Marsden, in a widely reported supporting statement. He continued, adding that: “The FTSE 100’s recent 14-year high shows that investors’ appetite for risk has well and truly recovered,” he said.

The Astbury Marsden report claimed that 3,220 job opportunities were created across the finance sector in February after an exceptionally strong January. While on the surface you might think this would seem to be good news, the announcement comes in the wake of warnings that the UK faces a potential shortage of qualified accountants because visa restrictions have led to a sharp drop in South Africans, Australians and New Zealanders working in Britain.

Elsewhere multi-specialist recruitment firm Randstad, was quoted as saying that the number of qualified accountancy professionals in the UK had dropped to 76,000 from 94,000 in 2008. The firm went on to add that it believed a further 80,000 more accountants would be needed by 2050 as the population grew, and that this was likely to leave us with a serious skills shortage.

Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial and Professional, said to the Financial Times: “The UK has shut the door on the skillsets that the financial and professional services sectors need, and a key part of people’s professional fulfilment, the opportunity to work abroad, is starting to become a thing of the past. South Africans were the first to be hit, but as visa restrictions kicked in, the number of employees from Australia and New Zealand has plummeted, too.”

She also pointed out that there was a huge drain on the sector’s indigenous workforce as emerging markets such as Singapore and Shanghai were sucking talent out of London, creating what she described as “a brewing skills shortage in a key sector for the UK economy”.

Randstad also highlighted that this issue was not restricted to the finance sector. The recruitment company said that the number of legal professionals had also fallen by 18,000 since 2008 and was a quarter below the level needed to be on track to meet demand by 2050.

Despite this, there was continued good news for the sector with recruiter Robert Half claiming that 55 per cent of UK financial services employers planned to raise base salaries for existing employees in the first six months of the year. On top of this the same recruiter stated that more than a quarter were paying higher bonuses.

Meanwhile, back at Astbury Marsden, Cameron said that although the Initial Public Offerings market was heating up significantly, it hasn’t yet been quite the source of new jobs that a lot of people hoped it would be. A lot of investment banks already had underutilised people in this area, limiting the number of new hires needed. Most of the new roles created in relation to IPOs have been outside the big investment banks, at brokerage houses and smaller banks.

So, it looks like we could well be seeing continued growth in the finance sector, but look certain to run into a wall with regards to the actual volume of skills in the market. A good time to be retraining as an accountant then!

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