Market Insights 2019 | Financial Services, London

David Harvey our consultant managing the role

Insurance

The insurance industry has had to contend with significant disruption in 2018. Increasing competition, lower margins, low interest rates and Brexit woes have culminated to curtail growth in the sector generally. This has led to sector consolidation, which presents opportunities for the contract market, but has a dampening effect on permanent hiring. However, there has been a drive to adopt new technologies and make use of big data and better digital strategy to enhance the customer journey, which has also led to a rise in the evolution of Insurtechs. This suggests that project and IT professionals will be in demand. IFRS 17 accounting rules will be effective from 1st January 2021 and organisations are already seeking advice from accounting firms and assembling project task forces to deal with the impending changes.

Fintech

Last year saw our busiest year to date within the fintech space, which continues to be a sought after industry for candidates from all backgrounds. With more and more fintech businesses taking substantial business away from traditional banks, payment providers, wealth managers and wider financial services companies, there has been a real increase in the number of organisations needing to bring finance in-house. This led to healthy recruitment across all levels throughout 2018 - a trend that is set to continue in 2019.

Banking & Capital Markets

Uncertainty around Brexit and the continued focus on cost reduction across banking has led to the quietest year we have seen in terms of hiring since 2008. This has been particularly marked on the temporary side, as banks look to replace contractors with permanent staff who would otherwise be made redundant.

Private Equity & Investment Management

Hiring in the investment management market remains buoyant and competitive, particularly in the alternative spaces like private equity, debt and credit. London remains the major hub, although Luxembourg is also a key market for private equity activity.

Risk Management & Compliance

The uncertainty around Brexit has caused growth plans within risk management to slow down with many positions relocating to the regions and abroad. This has been the general position across the top tier banks and asset managers.

Regulatory

2018 was an unusual year for the regulatory market. The demand for senior managers or heads of regulatory reporting slowed down, but there was an increase in the need for part qualified or newly qualified regulatory accountants across banking and capital markets.

Real Estate

Real estate investment management continues to attract significant capital from investors. As has been the case over several years, the primary concern for the industry is the availability of suitable assets. This has in turn led to a widened definition of traditional real estate to include alternative or niche areas, such as student accommodation, private rented sector and social housing. The demand for these once niche areas remains very strong because of yield, compared with more mature sectors, keeping the market growing with exciting possibilities.

Part Qualified & Transactional

2018 continued to be a year dominated by a shortage of quality candidates. Job flow on the whole was up on the previous year, however Brexit uncertainty seemed to have an impact on the number of candidates willing to move. There remained a demand for junior accountants with up to one year’s experience, with many clients favouring this over entry level graduates.

GUEST AUTHOR: Western Union Business Solutions

From Brexit to international trade tensions, recent economic turbulence has highlighted one thing more clearly than ever: risk management strategies have to be in place to protect profits for businesses trading internationally. If you are an FD or fund manager; many hours of expertise are poured into choosing the right opportunities and tracking yields, but if there is an international element to the investment, even a small change in the currency exchange rate can have a significant effect on profit or the value of returns. Read more on this guest author piece here.

Download the 2019 Market Insight Report » 

28/08/19
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In June 2019, Huw van Steenis - Group Managing Director at UBS and a credible figure in the banking and finance world, chaired the Future of Finance Report, conducted on behalf of the Governor of the Bank of England to review the UK’s financial system and what this meant for the Bank’s agenda over the coming decade. In this report, one of Huw van’s recommendations for the bank was: To enhance the payments system for the digital age as this is a force shaping the economy as we know it. " In the Fintech boom, companies and cloud based systems are becoming ever more respected in the banking & capital markets space - you don’t have to look too far to see a new digital payment or trading app popping up offering even quicker and easier payment transfers, online banking and currency converting.A major switch in how the public perceive technology is something that forced the hand of even the ever cautious consumer, long gone are the days of apps or cloud based systems being perceived as risky when uploading your most important information, including your banking details. The now slick and smooth process of setting up a new bank account via an app like Monzo, or setting up a new staggered payment process via Klarna can be done within minutes.In a digital age, cash in its conventional sense seemingly inhibits the consumer and some believe it becomes a problem that they never knew they had, as loose change and heavy pockets are an inconvenience we don’t have to live with. Huw van discovered that in Sweden, cash payments had fallen by 80% over the past decade and experts believe that the UK is only four to six years behind.Ten years ago cash was used for six out of ten payments and experts believe that this will inevitably drop to one in ten payments in ten years’ time, as you can imagine cash has been taken over by debit cards and contactless technology that is only bound to increase over time.As of 2018, cash accounted for 28% of payment methods used, this is down from 60% in 2008, so it is obvious to see the use of cash is on the decline heading towards the experts predictions of 9% by 2028, but has Covid-19 sped things up pushing us five to ten years ahead of schedule in reducing the use of cash?Banks and retailers have been pushing the use of contactless payments and online services for hygiene reasons and as shops started to close, the UK cash usage halved within days. Reports also show that during lockdown ATM transactions were down by 60%, a rapid drop compared to the year on year decline of roughly 6% - 10%. This all happened despite the World Health Organisation never actually instructing people to avoid cash during the pandemic.In some cases retailers have been refusing to take cash, I know this from personal experience, maybe you have experienced this too? So what chance does cash have to survive?Over the past few years with the emergence of the Fintech space in London, we began growing our offering for clients of this type. We recognise the need to be flexible and dynamic to match the world of Fintech and are proud to support such disruptive businesses. With our financial services expertise and tenure, we've found ourselves to be excellent commercial partners and providers for Fintech firms that are both in a period of rapid growth and those that have made their mark on the market. View our latest roles here. 

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In June 2019, Huw van Steenis - Group Managing Director at UBS and a credible figure in the banking and finance world, chaired the Future of Finance Report, conducted on behalf of the Governor of the Bank of England to review the UK’s financial system and what this meant for the Bank’s agenda over the coming decade.

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While mergers and acquisitions were once a strategy for companies to extend their global footprint, or grow their workforce, technology has shifted the focus. Firms are now motivated to acquire technology companies and assert their dominance in the digital sphere. Businesses might currently be facing a great deal of economic uncertainty, but there are still plenty of deals on the table, and in the first two months of H2 2020, global M&A megadeals totalled $256 billion. No matter whether the intentions of a business scale-up are to drive innovation, or to ensure competitive advantage, technology will continue to take a leading role in future deals. Here’s why technology is an essential piece of the puzzle and how it has inspired the new wave of M&A deals: Future-proofingSome job markets - like professional services - have faced fewer hurdles since the virus outbreak but they still face the pressure to remain relevant and to future-proof their services. Businesses are acquiring to stay in the game and become recognised as trailblazers, rather than chasing the competition’s tail, and M&A deals are motivated by the need to acquire new services, processes, talent or technology. Technology has the power to future-proof a business because it accelerates digital transformation; as companies try to navigate the uncertainty that is ahead, M&As will shift from being a future-proofing approach to a crisis-proofing strategy, and technology will likely play an increasingly central role. The booming cloud services marketNot long ago, AI was considered a futurist technology and conversations centred around whether robotics were a threat to jobs – even to those in the tech industry. However, research has proven how machine learning has the capacity to create more jobs and enable workforces to become more specialised. Within the same family of ‘disruptive technology’ is cloud computing. The global cloud services market is expected to hit a value of $331.2 billion by 2022, and today there are very few businesses which don’t use cloud computing models such as SaaS. This has created a flurry of activity on the M&A scene as corporations rush to snap up businesses who have the expertise and equipment they need to take their operations entirely remote. What’s more, cloud computing is built on the idea of scalability, making it an essential piece of the M&A puzzle. Research has proven how machine learning has the capacity to create more jobs and enable workforces to become more specialised. " FintechM&A deals rely heavily on face-to-face interaction, so it is no surprise that there was a 44.7% drop in the value of transactions in H1 2020 when compared to the previous year. However, in spite of the restrictions and economic uncertainty, Mastercard announced the acquisition of Finicity for $825 million in June. The fintech company specialises in open banking – a business model that gives third-party companies secure access to customers’ banking details, thereby allowing customers to have greater control over their finances and how they budget. Open banking has helped to bring financial services into the modern age - one reason why many similar M&A deals are appearing in the wake of Covid-19. 2019 was hailed the year of fintech M&As, bringing in four megadeals and a total deal value of $121.18 billion in H1 alone. Yet, 2020 has proved to be a promising year and the surge in the acquisition of fintech firms can also be attributed to the need for companies to provide a wider range of multichannel services. Markets are converging and this mounting interest in technology-enabled banking services has stirred up the M&A market where high profile fintech deals will likely go on to break more records. A career in M&AProfessionals working in M&A are in the business of creating value. While some companies will have been forced into survival mode, for others, the pandemic has exposed an opportunity to join forces with emergent start-ups or disruptive corporations. Professionals working in the M&A market are helping these businesses to source and snap up technology companies that will allow them to stay ahead of the curve. As technology continues to infiltrate every industry and discipline, M&A deals will become more widespread and the strategic skills of employees in this field will become more desirable. If you’re ready to take your skills to the market browse our jobs and have a look at our career advice hub. Providing a service that is tailored to youIf you’re interested in partnering with an agency that approaches the recruitment process differently, then Marks Sattin is the choice for you. We have a rich history of providing an unrivalled, relationship-led service to our clients and candidates. Our consultants are committed to connecting businesses of all sizes – from global organisations, to emerging start-ups - with talented professionals. Contact us if you’re looking for more information on recruitment solutions in M&A, financial services, corporate development or investment & advisory. 

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While mergers and acquisitions were once a strategy for companies to extend their global footprint or grow their workforce, technology has shifted the focus.

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Should I stay or should I go now?
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Even though it appears that the world has turned on its head right now, surprisingly we have seen an increase in the number of professionals who have decided now is the time to make a move. Why now!? … well along with all the other changes lately, candidates are experiencing a range of changes to their roles, and for some, the negatives are outweighing the positives. In order to ascertain whether a candidate is ready to move, I have look for the five P’s in my conversations. What are these five P’s I hear you say?, (or maybe not, and lockdown is getting to me already!):Payment – It’s usually the first reason I get from a person looking for a new role, but the truth of it is that although payment or feeling you are being paid fairly is important, it’s only ever part of the reason you look to change your job. There is more to life than money and being in a very well paid job that you hate will never last! With people currently working from home and saving on travel, lunches and the extortionate amount of coffee we purchase – payment is only ever part of the puzzle! I regularly speak to candidates who are being paid up to 20% below the market average salary and when I ask them about making a move and tell them the disparity, they often respond with, ‘but I’m happy in my job’. This might sound crazy to some, but another ‘p’ is priorities, and everyone’s are different! People – Now, more than ever, people’s relationships with their colleagues are being tested. But not how you might think - I have spoken to professionals who are no longer searching for their new role to escape interpersonal challenges at the office, because rather than sitting beside someone for eight hours a day, it’s now virtual meetings a couple of times a week! Similarly, I have other candidates who were staying in roles just because they had very strong relationships with their colleagues, and that was the most positive aspect of their working day. Plateau – Growth is important and feeling like you are learning and growing year on year is an integral part of your career happiness. However, if this doesn’t go hand in hand with at least some of my other ‘P’s’, it’s unlikely that you will see a professional leave when they have hit the glass ceiling in a company they love working for. Often these candidates will actively seek out other opportunities for growth within their organisation. Sometimes candidates will give lack of progression as the reason when in fact they are unhappy with other aspects of their role. Place – Location and commuting are less relevant at the moment than ever before. Having to battle the traffic on the stairs in the morning is the most many of us have been doing recently. However, one consideration under this point at the moment is - has your employer made your ‘place’ any better for you? I spoke to a candidate recently and part of their reason for wanting to make a move was because their company did not provide them with a monitor to work from home comfortably. A monitor is a relatively small thing, but it helped the employee to work more efficiently. This was the last straw for them and gave them the drive they needed to look for a new role. I have also spoken to candidates who have praised their companies for sending a desk, supplies, treats and anything to make their working from home life better.  These acts of kindness by employers are earning loyalty points with employees. " Praise – People who feel appreciated by their colleagues and managers for the work they do generally work harder to continue this circle of praise. It’s human nature to seek positive reinforcement that we are good at our job and really appreciated for the work we do.So what can we take from this? That you can be well paid and feel you are developing within a company, and still be motivated to move. Similarly we can have great work colleagues and feel valued in our role, and still seek something more in our careers. However, in my opinion and experience, if your job ticks most of the P’s then are you really looking for a new job, or just testing the waters?I think we will see an even bigger focus on being content at work going forward, because although our work life balance might be a bit better these days, our job is still a big part of our lives. I would be very interested to hear if you think there are other strong motivators that drive professionals to leave, or stay in a role?

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Even though it appears that the world has turned on its head right now, surprisingly we have seen an increase in the number of professionals who have decided now is the time to make a move.

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