Banks had already started to review their resourcing before the EU referendum vote. Tier 1 banks had all initiated right-sizing programs.
All this cost-reviewing led to some big changes in London. A growing number of accounting and finance roles (financial controllers, product controllers, and finance business partners) and operations roles (collateral, corporate actions, middle office support) moved out to regional hubs like Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester – or even further afield, to lower-cost locations like Eastern Europe and India.
Which roles are in demand?
Well, the global focus is shifting to risk management. So, on the upside, risk managers who specialise in credit, market, liquidity and operational risk are increasingly in demand.
Compliance and treasury are other recruitment growth spots, as banks try to avoid paying out hefty penalties and minimize funding costs through more efficient balance sheet management.
In London we saw some specialist roles at the mid-senior hire level being created, with higher salary premiums being offered to the right people.
As for contracting, many banks are now choosing to offer permanent opportunities to those already contracting in the business. This obviously reduces overall headcount spend, but also lets them retain their financial talent.
What does it look like in the immediate Brexit aftermath?
Firstly we're expecting banks to review their headcounts in the UK and consider relocating material proportions of their UK workforce to other EU member states. Those pre-referendum offshoring activities we heard about are also likely to speed up.
Looking further ahead, it's clear that banks and other FS firms (asset managers, funds and brokerages) have reviewed their hiring plans. They'll be unlikely to commit to long-term hiring for now.
But all the uncertainty does have benefits – we expect an uptick of temporary or contract hiring after the summer holiday period. This’ll be because contractors can offer employers the hiring flexibility to react to developments associated with Brexit negotiations.
How about the long-term future?
What happens beyond the short term hinges on the type of deal Theresa May can secure – and in what timeframe. Say we manage a deal that allows us full access to the single market (i.e. remaining in the EEA under the Norwegian model), we’d actually anticipate the FS jobs market to pick up and employers to commit to long-term hiring plans.
As you might expect, there’s positives and negatives to take from the situation – we’ll all just have to stay tuned and see what kind of Brexit we actually end up with.