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UK recruiters say challenger banks and fintech businesses are now more appealing to candidates than traditional banks

Ten years on since Lehman Brothers collapse the financial services industry has reinvented itself, but faces new challenges. The UK remains one of the leading global financial centres, but technology, new disruptors, skills shortages, and political events are driving huge change in financial services hiring here.

  • 55% of recruiters and HR managers have seen an increase in hiring rates over the last five years
  • Half of UK recruiters and HR managers have seen an increase in demand for AI, cryptocurrency and blockchain skills    
  • 55% say the number of roles requiring these emerging tech skills has outstripped the number of available candidates
  • 32% of recruiters say traditional banks are the least appealing FS organisations to candidates, whilst cryptocurrency businesses are top

Ten years on since Lehman Brothers collapse the financial services industry has reinvented itself, but faces new challenges. The UK remains one of the leading global financial centres, but technology, new disruptors, skills shortages, and political events are driving huge change in financial services hiring here.

Over the last five years, 55% of UK recruiters and HR professionals have seen a general increase in financial services hiring rates, rising to 62% and 59% for those recruiting for challenger banks and fintech firms, respectively.

This data is drawn from the second instalment of LinkedIn’sRecruiter Sentiment study, tracking in-house HR departments’ and agency recruiters’ confidence in their ability to hire, as well as the trends they are seeing in the market.

Demand for new skills is creating a skills gap

The emergence of new technologies, and a new breed of challenger bank and fintech organisations has driven demand for new skills. Technology now plays a much bigger role in the delivery of financial services, with 51% of UK recruiters and HR professionals seeing an increase in demand for AI skills, 49% for cryptocurrency and 46% for blockchain.

More broadly, recruitment professionals have seen the biggest increase in demand for the following skills amongst financial services businesses; emerging tech like blockchain (46%), statistical analysis and data mining (46%), network information and security experts (45%), mobile development (44%), and machine learning (37%).

Moreover, automation and regulation have led changes to job roles in financial services, as hiring for administrative and customer facing roles has declined, and legal and software job opportunities have increased, according to the LinkedIn UK Workforce Report insights.

Whilst the demand for technology skills is high, recruiters and hiring managers are struggling to fill open roles. Over half (55%) say that when searching for professionals with these skills there is a greater number of roles than available candidates, rising to 63% in the Midlands.

The types of organisations candidates want to work for is changing too. Cryptocurrency businesses (42%), investment funds (41%), challenger banks (40%), and fintechs (40%) are the most appealing to candidates. As these tech focussed organisations grow in popularity, traditional banks (32%) ranked as the least appealing - rising to 36% in London.

Jon Addison, Head of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn UK comments: 

“It’s positive to see hiring remain strong across the UK financial services industry as it remains a hugely important part of our economy - with significant workforces in most of the UK regions - this is reflected by our LinkedIn Workforce Report data which shows hiring rates steadily increasing across the sector since autumn 2016.

“But shifting demands - from both businesses and professionals - coupled with external factors like Brexit, automation and regulation, mean talent professionals need to keep pace with this evolving landscape if they want to remain competitive and attract, retain and nurture professionals with the right skills.”

Less international than before

Since the Brexit referendum, 49% of UK recruiters and HR professionals have seen an increase in UK talent moving abroad for roles in financial services and 36% have seen a decrease in international talent coming to the UK. The biggest decrease in hires from overseas has been from Germany (38%) - rising to 50% of hiring managers at challenger banks specifically - and Italy (38%). Over the last three months, the USA (29%) and Germany (13%) have been the top destination for UK financial services talent moving overseas. 

Additionally, our LinkedIn UK Workforce Report insights also revealed that UK educated workers are taking a larger share of new FS hires and the industry is becoming less international as a result, with the 75.9% of UK FS workforce being educated in the UK (received their first undergraduate degree there) in 2018.

A focus on gender diversity

Sourcing and hiring candidates from diverse backgrounds continues to be a big priority across all industries - 68% say it is a ‘major’ or ‘big’ priority for them, up from 56% in Q2. In the financial services sector there has been more demand to hire women in roles at board level (44%), senior management (42%), middle management (40%), junior management and graduates (38%).

Addison concludes:

“The financial services sector has reinvented itself and demands are changing fast - to keep up, there are actions businesses and hiring managers can take. Firstly, developing and cultivating a standout talent brand to reach national and international candidates with the right skills, will help businesses standout in a competitive industry where professionals have so many organisations to choose from.

“Secondly, we encourage businesses to build bulletproof talent strategies - looking ahead, long-term, for the skills and talent they will need five years from now. In a competitive market where roles are outstripping the number of candidates, using real time workforce data and insights will be key to determine how to upskill and retain workforces, as well as source new talent - whether that means targeting new locations or looking to different talent pools, including demographically diverse ones.”