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Vote of confidence

It is true, 2008 was a tough year for many financial services professionals but from a recruitment point of view, I only noticed a change in the final quarter. We registered many individuals and the market became top-heavy with candidates.

Several top IFA firms that usually have an aggressive approach to expansion lifted their recruitment bans, have confidence in the economic climate and are once again willing to take on advisers, paraplanners and support staff.

Many have revealed that business levels in 2008 were no worse than in the previous year. Figures should continue to rise once people start buying and investing again. Only a small percentage of the British people have been made redundant but it appears that the whole country has stopped spending on the high street and on more luxurious products such as holidays and cars.

The population’s need for advice is greater than ever. One of the National IFA firms is looking to double its sales-force from 250 to 500 consul-tants, a top-performing mutual society continues its growth plan during 2009 and many of the smaller firms have grown due to mergers and acquisitions.

We have also seen a rise in overseas recruitment as warm weather and a new lifestyle has been a great temptation to advisers that want to escape from the UK recession. Training and compliance roles have also been on the increase, perhaps as a result of TCF. 2009 has started very well and we are taking on as many new assignments as in 2008.

IFAs love to chat, as recruitment consultants do. Getting on the phone and speaking to people is the greatest part of this role. This has given us a good headstart with recruitment plans for 2009. April will see things get even busier as firms will not be tied to budgetary restraints.

The mortgage market is not expected to pick up until 2010. It is a sad affair to see so many qualified and successful mortgage consultants leave the financial services industry as they are unable to find jobs elsewhere within the sector without the appropriate experience. Recruitment managers are able to take advantage of more people being out of work so do not need to look outside their person criteria list. That said, many first-class individuals have stayed with their current employer just because they feel safe rather than content.

The RDR may affect financial recruiters in 2009. The new professional standards and exams should create more buoyancy in the market as consumer confidence grows with the disappearance of commission.

Advising is still a shrinking and ageing profession, therefore firms will have more need to use professional and well established agencies to assist with the placement of advisers.

Karen Halliday is director of Recruitment Connection

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