Challenging hiring environment for global financial services industry

28 April 2013

Concerns about talent shortage and losing top performers the highest in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, 29 April, 2013 – Faced with a gradual recovery and mounting wave of global regulatory change, research suggests the financial services sector is dealing with yet another major challenge: finding and keeping good employees. In a study from recruitment specialist Robert Half, nearly nine in 10 (88%) Financial Services leaders reported recruiting difficulties, and 83% said they are concerned about losing top performers to other opportunities this year.

Neil Owen, Global Practice Director, Robert Half Financial Services said: “While some areas within financial services institutions have seen cutbacks, other more profitable product lines are receiving further investment, resulting in additional hiring. This is creating challenges in finding the requisite staff to capitalise on emerging opportunities.“

In Hong Kong, finance and accounting (65%), risk (50%) and compliance (37%) were cited as key areas that will see the most hiring.

Pallavi Anand, Director, Robert Half Hong Kong said: “Competition for the industry’s top talent  has intensified, particularly risk and compliance professionals who continue to be in high demand as companies navigate unprecedented regulatory shifts locally and globally while growing their core business.”

Recruiting Challenges
Eighty-nine percent of financial services leaders surveyed said it is either very or somewhat challenging to find skilled financial services professionals today. Talent shortages, the research found, are especially acute in Hong Kong, where 95% of respondents cited difficulties. Even in France, which had the lowest level of difficulty in the report, 82% -- more than eight in 10 -- firms are experiencing recruiting challenges.

When asked how challenging it is to find
skilled financial services professionals
Somewhat challenging Net
 All countries  33%  56%  89% 
 Hong Kong 38%  57%  95%
 Singapore 49% 45% 93%
 Germany  36%  55% 91%
 UK  29%  62% 91%
 Canada 28% 62% 90%
 US 30% 54% 84%
 France 15% 67% 82%


Neil Owen continues: “Institutions around the world need staff who can manage fundamental business needs, drive profitability and ensure compliance mandates are met. However, building a team with these skills has become increasingly difficult as firms face a market where the demand for skilled professionals often outweighs the supply”.

Retention Concerns
With the market improving for financial services professionals who can fill roles in areas such as accounting and finance, operations support, revenue generation, and risk and compliance, employers around the globe are worried about losing their best and brightest to other opportunities. A large majority, 83%, of financial services leaders, are either very or somewhat concerned about their ability to hang on to top performers this year, the study found.

The greatest worries appear to be in Hong Kong where 93% of respondents cited concerns about losing valued employees. In each of the seven countries surveyed, at least 76% of respondents expressed some level of concern.

When asked how concerned they are about losing top performers
  Very concerned Somewhat concerned Net concerned
 All countries  31%  52%  83% 
 Hong Kong 40%  53%  93%
 Singapore 50% 42% 92%
 Germany  21%  66% 87%
 Canada 22% 62% 84%
 UK  24%  59% 83%
 US 29% 48%  77% 
 France 21% 55% 76%


Pallavi Anand concludes: “Combined with an improving job market for financial services professionals in specialised roles, the growing need for regulatory expertise and the substantial operational changes taking place in the sector will likely exacerbate current retention challenges. Employers will need to enhance their efforts, including financial rewards and progressive perks, to retain employees”.

About the Survey
1 The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,100 Financial Services leaders in 7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and the US.

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