Financial jobs market recovering after indyref vote

THE number of financial services posts being created in Scotland has jumped sharply as the volatile backdrop of last year’s independence referendum fades, a new survey today reveals.

Industry vacancies climbed in the six months since the independence vote was held

Industry vacancies in Edinburgh and Glasgow climbed 21 per cent to 3,070 in the six months to early May, up from 2,530 last September when the independence vote was held, the report from specialist contract and permanent recruiter BrightPool shows.

Scotland has bucked a more flat UK trend, where financial services vacancies in early May were fairly static at about 46,000, compared to just over 45,000 at the time of the referendum.

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The Scottish performance even outpaced the recovery of the financial sector in London, including the Square Mile, which saw the number of jobs needing filled rise by 8.5 per cent over the same period to 20,630 from 19,010. However, Angela Hickmore, managing director of BrightPool, warned that sentiment among financial services employers in Scotland may weaken if there is renewed pressure for Scottish independence under a revitalised SNP.

Hickmore said financial services job vacancies fell 19 per cent in Edinburgh and Glasgow in the run-up to the referendum last year as some major employers in the sector considered relocating their head offices to England in the event of a Yes vote. “Recruitment in Scotland’s financial services sector has rebounded sharply after the industry put hiring on pause until the referendum was out of the way,” she said. “Glasgow and Edinburgh are two of the UK’s great financial services centres with significant reserves of sector expertise, so it would be a shame to see political uncertainty slow recruitment there.”

Today’s report notes that the Scottish jobs recovery has been partly driven by the rise of the so-called “challenger banks”, attracted by a large pool of skilled financial services employees and lower staff costs than London.

Several challenger banks have now set up operations north of the Border, with Tesco Bank, Sainsbury’s Bank and TSB (the latter being taken over by Spanish banking group Sabadell) all having key operations in Edinburgh. Shawbrook Bank and Virgin Money have operations in Glasgow, while the city’s International Financial Services District is home to financial majors groups such as JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and BNP Paribas.

Hickmore added: “Both challenger banks and the big established financial services employers are looking to keep cost/income ratios under control.

“Avoiding the high average salaries and rents of the City of London or the Docklands can mean significant savings.”

The report follows a similar upbeat financial services quarterly survey from the CBI employers group and accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The recent CBI/PwC survey said optimism in the sector rose strongly in the three months to March and profitability improved in most sectors.

However, overall employment in UK financial services fell for a second consecutive quarter, reflecting ongoing restructuring in the banking sector.

Stephanie Bruce, financial services leader at PwC in Scotland, said at the time that the banking sector both in Scotland and across the UK was reporting growing confidence, with higher revenues and profits.