Recruitment consultancy BWD has reported that it has seen a remarkable recovery in financial services recruitment in recent months. It says that the numbers of interview invitations for candidates in its wealth management division have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. However, the number of job offers in the first quarter of 2021 was almost double that seen in the same period in 2020, even though the coronavirus pandemic did not really affect the UK significantly until close to the end of the first quarter of 2020.

Senior client director James Woods commented:

“I can honestly say that, for the first time in well over a year, Q1 has truly felt ‘business as usual’ in terms of activity levels and this is backed up by recent conversations we have been having with our clients.”

He also commented that, in 2020 and 2021, only around 20-25% of the financial planning appointments secured by his company were for London-based roles. In 2018 and 2019, almost half of the advisory roles had been in the capital. This has all occurred without BWD making any sort of strategic decision to target other areas of the UK, so Mr Woods suggests that this is another effect of Covid-19:

“Combine the opening, by many large players, of new regional hubs in recent times, with the fact that we have several major financial services employers already announcing new work from home contracts for thousands of employees, and we expect heightened levels of recruitment outside of London to be a major feature through 2021 and beyond.”

He then went on to say that every single candidate for whom he had secured employment during the last 12 months had been offered the role without a face-to-face interview, and again he commented on how things had changed rapidly:

“I think it’s safe to say that if you had asked most employers just over a year ago if they would be happy to make a mid-senior level hire without physically meeting that individual, the answer would generally have been no. Entirely remote interviews processes have been fully accepted and are now not even mentioned, questioned, or raised as a concern.”

Another financial services recruitment agency, Morgan McKinley, reports a 70% increase in the number of job vacancies in the City of London in the first three months of 2021.

Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment in the UK in the three months to February 2021 was 4.9% (or 1,670,000 people) down slightly from the previous quarter’s figure of 5%.  However, the number of unemployed remains 311,000 higher than was the case 12 months previously. Five million UK employees are still furloughed.

Of the 811,000 payroll jobs lost in the UK in the 12 months to March 2021, 85% of these were amongst the under-35s.