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Financial services recruitment has been witnessing a trend for some time. The candidate market or pool of talent is ever shrinking and finding qualified individuals is becoming increasingly difficult.

One of the main reasons for this is the very small number of institutions that train raw graduates with a view to moulding them into accomplished roles in financial services.

History tells us that a decreasing number of trainee schemes coupled with a tightening of training budgets cannot improve the situation. It follows that the market is seeing vast numbers of jobs being advertised for experienced individuals and candidates can simply charge a premium for their experience. Various industry experts have commented on the lack of qualified candidates but no one seems to be changing the way that the market is operating.

Qualified candidates who are interested in other positions are simply able to choose a package to suit and can negotiate their commission levels and benefits accordingly.

This puts an extra strain on the employer’s side with added costs being imposed that are, in some cases, beyond their control.

From a candidate perspective, the financial services market is distinctly active at the moment, with a vast number of opportunities and jobs available for qualified individuals.

We have seen a trend where a number of candidates are relocating from overseas to the UK in order to take full advantage of these conditions. Furthermore, admin and sales is becoming a more specialist profession, given the increasingly complex technical and legislative issues that abound. This has increasingly led to employers favouring candidates who have made progress with their professional qualifications.

Salaries have risen across the profession, leaving many of the smaller IFAs and brokers unable to afford the inflated salaries for qualified employees. This means that they having to take on less experienced staff and provide the necessary training.

Today’s market is characterised by a bountiful choice available to candidates if they want to specialise. Banks, building societies, and brokers are increasing salary levels and offering improved commission schemes in a bid to attract high-quality candidates.

Mortgage brokers and packagers in particular are offering more compliance and admin support to attract people to the independent market. Candidates can also choose whether they wish to go down the self-employment route in recognition of different lifestyle preferences.

To correspond with depolarisation, banks and societies are offering their consumers a greater choice of product by segmenting the market and introducing new product providers to the panel. This has proved to be an attractive choice for candidates seeking positions as financial consultants.

It is apparent that the market is teetering on the pinnacle of a candidate shortage. The resultant high demand cannot be met as there is a huge lack of experienced individuals and clients’ aspirations are high.

Available training schemes are few and far between in the current market and this shortage is only going to increase. Even with recent news regarding various downsizing, there are still too many positions available but too few experienced, qualified staff to fill them.

If this continues, and it does not seem that anyone is taking the lead in changing the industry norm, the problem is going to escalate, with more and more opportunities occurring but with not enough candidates to fill them.

David Carr is Midlands region branch manager at Hays Insurance & Financial Services

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