x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

London calling for finance staff

Financial services companies in London are accelerating the recruitment of staff, creating a challenge for companies in the UAE that have been able to attract the cream of professional talent for years.

More financial job openings in London does not mean the rest of the UK will follow suit.
More financial job openings in London does not mean the rest of the UK will follow suit.

Financial services companies in London are accelerating the recruitment of staff, creating a challenge for companies in the UAE that have been able to attract the cream of professional talent for years. Job vacancies in the City, London's financial heartland, were up 71 per cent last month compared with the same month last year, according to the recruitment consultant Morgan McKinley.

But the growth in job vacancies in London has left recruiters in Dubai and Abu Dhabi with dwindling numbers of applicants. "Inquiries are down, headhunting is up," said Christo Daniels, the managing director of IQ Selection, a recruitment firm in Dubai. The report showed the number of finance professionals entering the London labour market last month fell 16 per cent, while job vacancies rose 7 per cent to 6,048, up from 5,645 in June.

The increase in openings "is a good indication that institutions will continue to recruit, although we are expecting fluctuations at hiring levels over the remainder of the year", said Andrew Evans, the managing director of Morgan McKinley's financial services unit. He added, however, that the outlook for UK recruitment was uncertain, owing to an ongoing economic malaise. The survey showed pay in the sector had dipped slightly, about 3 per cent lower than the average salary for roles filled last month and more or less unchanged since last year.

Many professionals fled the British capital when the credit crunch took hold in 2008, with Dubai in particular proving an attractive destination, according to Mark Williams, the director of Middle East consulting services for Hay Group, a recruitment consultancy. "As things started to go awry in other countries and developed economies like the UK, [the UAE] was seen as a safe haven for a couple of months."

He said Dubai was one of the principal beneficiaries of this trend but warned that the city's change in fortunes would make it more difficult to attract top talent. "As things start to pick up elsewhere in the world, there's a danger that people will start to re-evaluate their options, particularly if they don't see the UAE as the safe haven they considered it to be. They may be attracted back to London if the organisations here don't look after their staff."

The recruitment drive in London contrasts sharply with Wall Street, where employment in the financial services industry has wilted over the past year. The sector shed 12,700 jobs between June last year and the same month this year, according to the New York state department of labour. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is seeing a boom in job creation. There were 3,701 vacancies in the financial sector in the first quarter of this year, a 109.1 per cent increase on the previous year, according to the most recent report from the government's official statistics body.

In the UAE, Mr Williams said foreigners' views were beginning to change. "I think the expat mindset is changing - perhaps before, it was common over here do a couple of years to help put money away and then move back home. But I think more and more [people] are seeing an international career as the way they want to go on," he said. gregor.hunter@thenational.ae