City businesses want to expand to make the most of economic growth, but are facing a serious skills shortage.
Most British finance firms want to hire more workers this year, but almost every single one says finding the right staff is a challenge.
Recruiters Robert Half found 52pc of firms in the sector want to increase their headcount this year, above the average of 47pc across the rest of the professional services industry.
This is driven by good news: 90pc of company finance chiefs say they are optimistic about economic growth over the next year, and 88pc believe this will help their companies grow. As a result, a large proportion of businesses need to recruit more workers.
But 98 per cent of financial services firms say it is challenging or very challenging to find suitable staff to fill the vacancies – a startling skills shortage which is expected to drive up costs and limit growth.
Of those struggling to recruit the right talent, 35pc say there is a lack of candidates with the right skills, while 30pc say demand for staff outweighs supply.
“We anticipate that demand will continue to build over the next 12 months for permanent and interim professionals in financial services and accountancy and finance, further extending the skills shortages as businesses look for specialised professionals with strong commercial acumen and communications skills,” said the recruitment firm’s senior managing director Phil Sheridan.
“As we head into the second-half of the year, companies who are looking to hire should do so with haste as financial professionals on the market today are often receiving multiple offers.”
The growth in finance hiring represents something of a rebound after the leaner years of the credit crunch and its aftermath.
And although increasing regulation was the key factor driving recruitment in the years immediately following the crisis, demand for compliance officers and risk staff has waned.
Only eight pc of respondents in the survey told Robert Half that new regulatory requirements ranked among the top three reasons for hiring this year, compared with 52pc who said they wanted more staff for projects and 44pc who said they needed workers for product or service expansion.
“All of the indicators across the index demonstrate that senior executives are hiring for growth. Despite recent news of restructuring in some areas of the financial services industry, confidence levels amongst senior executives is high and momentum will continue to build,” said Mr Sheridan.
The strong jobs numbers come against a backdrop of collapsing unemployment, and even signs of recovering wage growth. Official figures show wages increased by 2.7pc in the year to April, ending a spell of relatively flat growth in incomes.