Salary guide

Financial services ‘at crossroads’ over recruitment

Glasgow IFSD
Salaries are rising in financial services jobs (pic: Terry Murden)

A huge shortfall in candidates together with pressure to significantly increase salaries and perks makes grim reading for financial services sector businesses in Scotland, according to a new report.

An exodus of international staff because of Brexit, Covid-related career changing and the climate crisis are the main factors which have caused employment gaps in certain sectors, leaving the industry at an “uncertain crossroads”.

Now in its seventh year, Core-Asset Consulting’s “Industry Trends and Salary Guide” is a forensic review of salary levels and also a gauge of market sentiment, activity and the themes that are impacting financial services across Scotland.

Vacancies are up 52% and applicants down 5% on the previous 12 months. Candidates actively applying for roles was down 35%, while recruiters are having to to source 57% more candidates than in 2020.

Betsy Williamson, the founder and MD of Core-Asset, said the latest edition of the annual report makes alarming reading for its audience.

She said: “With a predecessor as turbulent as 2020, it was clear that 2021 was going to be another year of unpredictable change within financial services, and the sector is now at an uncertain crossroads with huge hurdles to overcome.

Betsy Williamson
Betsy Williamson: alarming reading

“In contrast to the start of the coronavirus pandemic where many staff were fighting for their jobs, we are now seeing a massively candidate-buoyant market, driving increased pressure on employers to offer better salaries, more flexibility and competitive perks to attract and retain the best talent.

“The reduction in available labour is connected with the UK’s exit from the European Union and the exodus of overseas nationals returning to native soil – with more than 200,000 EU citizens leaving the UK during 2020.

“Additionally, thousands of workers placed on furlough at the height of the pandemic have since switched careers, leaving massive employment gaps in certain industries, while rising demand across sectors like Fintech and Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) has been driving salaries to unprecedented levels.”

The report also gauges market sentiment and activity, as well as highlighting the themes that are impacting financial services across Scotland. Major issues this year include staff shortages, ESG, Brexit and ethical investing.

It highlights ethical investment as an area of financial services that has grown exponentially in recent years, with the number of job listings for ESG analysts in Scotland increasing by 70% over the last two years – reflective of soaring global demand for socially responsible investment.

Betsy Williamson added: “Nearly every big business has an ESG strategy and the major investment firms are promoting Socially Responsible Investment portfolios across mainstream media.

“ESG is no longer a box-ticking exercise where investment houses can take the path of least resistance, it is expected that it is now an integral part of the investment process, and this is reflected in the massive surge in employment opportunities in this field.

“Yet there is a shortage of candidates coming through to meet the demand for ESG-related roles. We need academic institutions in Scotland to catch up with trends and to encourage undergraduates to consider the benefits of a career in this field. Those working in and around the sector must also be encouraged to up-skill.”

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