'Help wanted' as London's banks tighten compliance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 6:13am

Job vacancies at financial services companies in London jumped 25 per cent in the first quarter of this year as firms bolstered their compliance and risk-management divisions in order to placate regulators, a new survey shows.

Vacancies in London's main financial district, known as the City, and elsewhere in the British capital climbed to 7,308 from 5,859 in the fourth quarter, recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley said in a statement yesterday.

Nevertheless, the number of available jobs fell 7 per cent last month from February.

"There is more appetite to hire, and the process is more fluid, with fewer obstacles to bringing new talent on board," Hakan Enver, operations director at Morgan McKinley Financial Services, said in the statement.

"March 2013 was negatively affected by Easter coming earlier than usual, causing it to be a shorter working month and disrupting the process of releasing new roles to the market."

Global regulators have asked banks to strengthen their risk-management practices and boost oversight in response to recent scandals that have battered the reputation of the financial services industry.

A survey of lenders by international body the Financial Stability Board published in February found that "significant gaps" persist in risk management, with nearly half of the firms surveyed failing to meet "fundamental" criteria for sound governance.

Banks including heavyweights such as UBS and Barclays have been hit by scandals ranging from rogue traders to interest rate rigging. HSBC and Standard Chartered both paid fines in the United States over failures to halt the laundering of money from countries under sanctions, such as Iran.

The number of new job seekers in the finance industry fell 7 per cent last month from February, the survey showed. New hires received average annual pay of £77,296 (HK$919,000), up 17 per cent from their average earnings earlier.

The statement said that pay bump showed "competitive salary offers are out there for sectors of the market where professionals are in high demand."

"Governance-related functions including risk management, compliance and internal audit, as well as change management - specifically focusing on finance - are areas where talent is still sought after," Enver said.