With the UK economy starting to show strong and sustained signs of recovery from the recession, the number of opportunities available for individuals interested in starting out or furthering their careers in the financial sector is also increasing.
According to figures published in January 2014 by TheCityUK, the UK financial sector employs a total of around 2.0 million people.
Though the City of London is widely regarded as being the hub of the country’s financial industry, in employment terms, the numbers are spread fairly consistently around the country when viewed as a percentage of regional economies:
Scotland 177,000 (over 11%)
Northern Ireland 31,500 (below 9%)
Wales 51,900 (below 9%)
North East 45,400 (below 9%)
North West 212,100 (9% to 11%)
Yorkshire 128,600 (9% to 11%)
West Midlands 135,800 (9% to 11%)
East Midlands 80,200 (below 9%)
East 144,600 (9% to 11%)
South West 146,600 (9% to 11%)
South East 258,100 (below 9%)
London 675,600 (over 11%)
Recruiters in all areas of the UK should therefore be aware of the importance of keeping a close eye on what impact job market developments within their local area are likely to have on the various financial sectors rather than concentrating solely on what is happening in the City.
What is the financial sector?
The term financial sector covers banking, finance and accountancy and can be broken down into a number of sub-groupings:
*Finance and accountancy – provides employment for over a million people in areas such as company accountancy, private audit, tax and accountancy practices and a range of financial functions within public and private industrial and commercial enterprises.
*Financial planning – covers the entire gamut of advisory services relating to the long and short-term financial options available based on the specific requirements of both individuals and companies.
*Pensions and investments – involves researching, monitoring and forecasting the performance of funds held in all their forms and advising asset managers accordingly. Investment companies specialise in providing their clients with stockbroking and trading services, monitoring actual against predicted performance, risk assessment services and the monitoring and management of financial data.
*Insurance providers – working hand in hand with other highly skilled professionals; typically those in the legal, fire and medical sectors, specialists in this sector are called upon to carry out risk assessments and collect evidence to be used in the resolution of claims made by individuals and companies in relation to insurance policies.
*Building societies and banks – provide the means by which public and private companies, organisations and individuals are able to conduct financial transactions both domestically and globally. They are the leading source of funding for business and personal loans, mortgages and money management. In view of the sheer volume of business undertaken it is perhaps not surprising that banks and building societies are by far the biggest employers in the financial services sector.
Winners and losers in the financial sector:
*Banks – there is little doubt that over the past five or six years the status of the banking industry has suffered a dramatic setback. Many thousands of jobs have been lost, as some of the world’s largest finance houses have either been forced to cease trading entirely, instigate painful rationalisation action or at best carry out detailed reviews of which sectors offer the potential for sustained growth and profitability over the long-term. On a positive note, in terms of recruitment, banks are being forced to ensure that current staff are trained and new staff are employed in order to ensure they comply fully with the more stringent audit controls and regulations that are constantly being introduced. Similarly, skilled IT professionals are required to install and maintain ever more complex database and electronic communication systems.
*Finance and accountancy – as industrial output increases and companies across the board begin to see their order books filling up demand for part and fully qualified accountants is increasing dramatically. As the recovery gains momentum and employers become more confident that the upturn will be sustained over the medium term it seems certain that companies, including accountancy practices, from SMEs to multinational corporations will once more begin to recruit both university graduates and school leavers looking for positions that include on the job training.
*Insurance – this is one of the sectors that suffered particularly badly during the global economic crisis. The industry has had to learn some fairly brutal lessons in terms of losses, poor risk assessment, underwriting inadequacies and questionable management decisions. Having seen the introduction of stringent new regulations and being significantly stronger in financial terms than ever before, the industry now seems set for a period of sustained growth. Indeed, it is forecast that an additional 22,000 jobs will be created by 2020.
Overall, it seems there is reason to be hopeful if looking for a job in the financial sector. Everywhere in the country seems to have an even coverage in terms of the financial industry, so as long as the economy keeps going the way it is, keep an ear to the ground for any promising sounding jobs.