CONFIDENCE in Scotland’s battered financial services sector is rising, despite concerns over an “anaemic recovery” in the wider economy.
Recruitment firms are reporting an increase in demand across the pensions sector, while job prospects in the investment industry have improved in recent months as companies transfer business from other parts of the UK.
Although the Fraser of Allander Institute said last week that Scotland’s economic recovery is “far weaker than would be expected five years after a recession”, the latest survey from recruitment giant Manpower shows that confidence among finance employers in the UK is at a two-year high.
Betsy Williamson, managing director of financial services-focused Core-Asset Consulting, said: “There has been an increase in permanent recruitment in Scotland over the last three months. The real test will come in the third quarter of the year, traditionally the busiest time in the annual recruitment cycle. If August to October turn in a strong performance then we can safely say that the employment market is well on the road to recovery.”
Life and pensions giant Standard Life, which employs 5,500 people in Edinburgh, has predicted a sharp increase in business on the back of auto-enrolment, which forces companies to provide pension schemes for their employees.
Group operations director Sandy Begbie said: “There is more optimism across the city in terms of outlook for our sector, and as businesses return to growth, recruitment should ultimately follow. For Standard Life, the investments we’ve made in our talent programmes mean that we are often able to fill roles internally, but we continue to recruit externally for specialist roles where there are internal skills gaps.”
Lindsey Boxall, head of recruitment firm Eden Scott’s financial services division, said: “We have seen an increase in confidence in the financial services sector, but feel that this is relative. Many people are used to the current climate and consider that to be the norm and, in many cases, some individuals may not have worked pre-2008 so have no experience of what it was like before the economic crisis.”