Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Skills shortage top fear for UK financial services

Nearly half (49%) of senior leaders in the financial services sector see finding skilled candidates as the biggest worry over the next twelve months, new research from Robert Half Financial Services has revealed.

  • New research shows issues that are keeping financial services directors awake at night
  • Tightened regulatory controls, new business processes and employee training are key worries, say financial services directors

Nearly half (49%) of senior leaders in the financial services sector see finding skilled candidates as the biggest worry over the next twelve months, new research from Robert Half Financial Services has revealed. The survey highlighted the key concerns – both external and internal – facing the industry, including the impact of tightened regulation controls, new business processes, and training and development for employees.

The financial services industry faces a number of unique challenges, from the rise of challenger banks and the need to improve customer service, to digital transformation and impact of new regulations such as MiFID II and GDPR. In the face of these challenges, financial services leaders have identified the skills shortage as their greatest fear, demonstrating the importance of attracting and retaining talented employees.


Top 10 concerns in financial services*



Finding the necessary talent/skills



Tightened regulatory controls



Implementation new business processes



Training and development of existing employees



Bank recapitalisation



Market instability



Finding growth opportunities






Staff retention



Fintech/new technologies


*Responses do not total 100 per cent as multiple answers were permitted.

“Process, regulatory and geopolitical change are creating the perfect storm for the financial services sector to develop and grow,” said Matt Weston, UK Managing Director at Robert Half. “In a time of uncertainty, banks and other financial services firms need to be confident they can access the skills they need to help them through this current period of change and beyond”.

Other worries included tightened regulatory controls (cited by 42% of respondents), implementing new business processes (35%), market instability, bank recapitalisation, and training and developing existing employees (all 32%). The research revealed that new technologies such as Blockchain and automation are less of a worry, with many optimistic about their potential – only 13% and 6% fear their impact respectively. 

“With only a finite number of skilled professionals, providing current staff with the means to grow and develop new skills provides tangible benefits to the business as a whole, including plugging skills gaps. Staff provided with such opportunities are more motivated, productive and loyal which has a positive impact on any organisation.

“Additionally, while operating in a period of change or market instability adopting a flexible recruitment strategy can offer great benefits. Where current skills gaps do exist, hiring in temporary or contract professionals to fill those gaps allows for added value, greater flexibility and controls”, concluded Weston.