London calling! KPMG shows huge demand for financial talent

Where will the next wave of talent come from? Financial services is booming in London yet professionals from other sectors aren’t tempted

Professional traders in London are in huge demand, and have been ever since the somewhat more edgy days of the mid 1980s when shoulder pads and excessive living dominated the Square Mile.

Computer science and university educated civility may well have long since replaced the barrow boys of Whitechapel, however despite the electronic trading revolution having automated a vast amount of transactions and clearing functionality, demand for financial markets professionals is, according to one of the world’s largest professional services companies, at an all time high.

London and New York have maintained their top slot as global financial centers ever since joining a trading desk within a large bank became a desirable career choice for energetic young interns qualifying from two years at Goldman Sachs or Citigroup, both cities having spent several years at the top with the enviable accolade of being the world’s largest financial centers.

Today it is London, a few years ago it was New York, and prior to that, London, and so the cycle continues.

KPMG’s report, issued this week, shows that despite the disproportionate economic power that the financial sector wields in Britain – it employs only 0.0009% of the entire European Union’s workforce yet produces 16% of all tax receipts – 65% of the UK population would not consider taking a job in the financial services sector.

The perceived reputation of financial services jobs is the driving force behind the reduced interest, with 41% of people outside the sector stating the work does not appear interesting. The figures were in stark contrast with the perception of those working within financial services, who reported greater job satisfaction than the national average.

As is clear within our own sector of the electronic trading business, the enthusiasm for the industry held by those employed within it is one of the highest of any sector in any industry, and very few people actually leave the industry.

Indeed, quite the opposite. It is very apparent that most professionals with over 20 years in the business behind them are still innovating and working hard to continually improve the entire business on a daily basis.

KPMG’s figures bear this out clearly, as in the wider financial sector as a whole, which included surveying employees in all capacities within bank, insurance and asset management positions, 87% said they like their job, compared to 82 per cent for workers in other sectors.

Although interest and innovation is very much part of a career in this business, money remains a key motivator for people working in financial services. Over a third said they are driven mainly by salary, compared to just 16% in other sectors.

Although interest and innovation is very much part of a career in this business, money remains a key motivator for people working in financial services. Over a third said they are driven mainly by salary, compared to just 16% in other sectors.

Tim Howarth, head of financial services consulting at KPMG, said: “There’s clearly a gap between what the public think, and the realities of working in financial services. That has to be addressed if we are to attract the diverse mix of skills and experiences needed to navigate the changes going on in financial services and society.”

Attracting new minds has been a challenge over previous years, however there have been some very interesting examples recently, one of which Burrito Bond offered by London and Manchester-based restaurant chain Chilango. Far from being executives from bank trading desks, many of the seed funding investors in this venture are restaurateurs and chefs.

London’s markets are open, and its mind is open. It would be super to see a new wave of talent enter our flourishing and diverse industry.

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