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Turn for the better

The economy is recovering after two brutal years

Harris Keillar
Harris Keillar

The last two years have been brutal for most Western world econ-omies and the UK in particular due to our reliance on financial services.

In overall growth terms, this has been made painfully clear by our anaemic growth rates of 0.3 per cent for the last quarter, with us being the last major European country to crawl out of recession. This has had an unsurprising effect on recruitment, with many more people being made redundant and fewer positions for people to move into.

As for Keillar, our figures were slightly down at year end in April 09 although business almost crashed to a halt in May and it was December before signs of the proverbial green shoots were seen beneath the snow. The listed recruitment groups, Michael Page, Adecco and USG People, have all said that companies are starting to hire again. Michael Page has, however, cautioned that although 2009 had been the most challenging in its history (with-profits plunging by 86 per cent), growth was still very slow in the UK.

Like us, they see more growth coming from Asia, especially the Far East. In early March, the British Chamber of Commerce reckoned that growth would be less than previously forecast although again similar to the Recruit-ment and Employment Confederation’s own research, they thought that unemploy-ment would not climb as high as feared.

Recruitment is a lagging indicator though and any rise in activity and revenue is particularly welcome as it is not only good news for the people getting new jobs but also the economy as a whole.

This is partially reflected in our own figures (our third quarter was our best ever) and we currently have a large number of new positions from companies across the financial services board.

In 2009, most of the position we handled were replacements and despite some replacement hires in 2010, the highest proportion are for companies that are moving into new areas, either geographically or in terms of business. These clients span the spectrum of financial services companies although there are still very few mortgage-related roles.

One positive, interesting and unforeseen outcome of the European and American crackdown on bonuses has been the increase in recruit-ment among companies that previously might not have had enough money or the desire to recruit new people.

It could well be that CEOs, heads of HR and internal management accountants are secretly delighted with the external brouhaha over bonuses as it means that their own costs can be curtailed, with less chance of the affected high-earners disappearing to a competitor. This releases funds that can be utilised to recruit additional, less-expensive people. In public, they will complain about losing talent, etc, although it could be that their views are quite different in the privacy of the boardroom.

In summary, the economy as seen from the viewpoint of a specialist, permanent financial services-only recruitment company, is that the economy not only feels better, it is better. That can only be to the benefit of all wanting to get back into employment or who want to change jobs.

Harris Keillar is managing director of Keillar Resourcing


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