2018 Financial Services Operations Salary Guide

Ross Sailes 21.12.2017

2018 financial services operations salary guides for contract and permanent jobs in London

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Commentary on Financial Services Operations Roles and Remuneration in UK for 2018


2017 has been an interesting year for operations given the MiFID II deadline and the offshoring within middle and back office functions across a lot of Tier 1 financial services institutions. A number of the Tier 1 investment banks have been recruiting but not at the same volumes of the Tier 1 asset managers. This has been welcomed by candidates keen to make the move across to the buy side in order to secure themselves a more stable working environment. Permanent roles have been steady throughout the year in a variety of areas but busier areas include client services and performance analysis. Candidates have enjoyed the diversity of roles coming through and are ever increasingly looking to diversify their experience and skill sets to set them apart from the competition.

Positive  & negative news

The increased number of jobs in comparison to 2016 would be the highlight of 2017. Asset management has seen a steady flow of roles and has attracted a lot of good talent from the Tier one investment banks. Increased roles throughout the year has resulted in fewer candidates being actively available, this is due to the increased length of time taken to fill roles and the competitiveness of the market. Overall, due to the competitive nature of 2017, there has been a demand from clients to see standout candidates who differentiate themselves from previous individuals they’ve hired. The areas primarily include European language skills, CFA exams and strong VBA abilities.

Qualities and skills in demand 

Following on from previous, the competitive nature of 2017 has seen an increased demand from clients to diversify their teams and add value in particular areas. Due to streamlining of processes over the last few years, there is now an ever increasing demand for candidates to have experience across the full front to back trade flow within operations. MiFID II, as you may have expected, has affected recruitment. A demand for candidates to have strong regulatory and product knowledge is at the forefront of hiring and thus, candidates are now being tested further than previous years on the depths of their product knowledge. Client services has seen an increased demand for candidates with European languages skills; Dutch, German and Italian being the most popular. Client reporting has seen a demand for candidates needing to to have advanced VBA skills; this is due to organisations looking to automate processes further.

Outside of work 

Due to the increased number of jobs this year in comparison to 2016, candidates should be looking to diversify their skills and set themselves apart from the competition. Specific qualifications include; IOC, IMC and the CFA. VBA and SQL courses are another step you can take to set yourself apart from the competition. These are ever increasing in demand due to the push in streamlining processes and technology improvements within operations.

Notable trends

Diversity still remains one of the key speaking points of recent years, whether it’s from gender, age, demographic or ethnic background, it still remains the “hot topic” of recruitment. Permanent recruitment within asset management has seen a particular focus on diversifying the gender gap from entry to board level, right across the business. HR have a big a big driver in facilitating this, in some cases asking for 1 in 3 CV’s to be a female candidate. One particular asset manager has pledged it’s aiming to have a 50/50 split in male and female employees by 2020.


Commentary on Financial Services Operations Roles and Contract Rates in UK for 2018

Temporary jobs were steadily on the market throughout 2017, but once again, rates did not see an increase despite the apparent demand for candidates.


In a turnaround from last year, the 2017 job market in operations has shown a steady flow of jobs, with an increase in numbers too. This has been fully welcomed by job seekers when compared to the peaks and troughs shown in previous years. There has, however, been unpredictability in where the jobs will be - with different areas peaking at different times of the year. 

This news, along with uncertainties in the market, has led to there being fewer candidates actually available and therefore increased time to hire.  As with previous years, rates have not seen an increase in 2017.

The flow of roles coming in decreased noticeably in the second half of the year - this is a result of the summer months and the period leading up to Christmas - and is no different to any other year. 

Positive  & negative news

The headline positive news this year is that the job market seems to have recovered from the 2016 drought; job numbers have finally increased again. 2017 saw a 16% increase in jobs compared to 2016. This was seen in both asset management and investment banking operations, being reflected across a number of different areas. 

High job numbers for a longer period of time generally results in fewer candidates being available in the market - this trend has shown true this year. It could also be linked to market uncertainties; looming political events and a slowing economy have all taken their toll when it comes to job seekers looking for a new roles. 

Another notable negative is that rates have not increased again. This has been the case for quite some time now, with rates staying flat across operations for a number of years. The only exception to this comes in the regulatory space where impending deadlines mean competition is higher than ever. 

Qualities and skills in demand 

There are a number of skills in operations which are increasingly in demand from employers. Process and product understanding is now key to the majority of roles, with candidates being expected to have a detailed understanding of not only their own processes, but those of the entire lifecycle. We are seeing candidates tested on their financial product knowledge, showing that candidates really need to do their research before any interview.

The need for regulatory knowledge and exposure has increased once again. Where this has been the case for a number of years in the sell side, in the past, many investment management companies will have used brokers to report on their behalf. With MiFID II on the agenda throughout 2017, investment managers built up their regulatory teams, and so candidates with this experience were in short supply. With banks and asset managers alike having to adapt their processes for these new regulations, we have also seen an increased demand for Operations candidates with project or change experience.

The buy side also continued to bolster client reporting teams to meet increasing demands from clients for greater transparency on performance, whilst hiring in the collateral space cooled in the second half of the year.

After much time and effort large number of firms across the City are now closer than ever to achieving ‘straight-through-processing’. This has resulted in the bulk of ‘BAU’ middle office roles focusing on exception queues and working on fixes, compared to the actual trade processing roles we are used to seeing. These types of roles need candidates who have a strong focus on risk and control, with good excel and reporting skills too.

Outside of work 

Similar to previous years, candidates should continue to look at additional qualifications in order to help them secure the most interesting opportunities and advance their careers. Typically, these would be IMC, IOC or the CFA depending on the direction sought. For an immediate impact, candidates should be looking to add VBA, SQL or advanced Excel to their CV through short courses. 

Notable trends 

During 2017, we saw very little change in the demographic applying to jobs in comparison to years gone by, despite numerous articles in the press suggesting the contrary. We saw even greater focus on diversity from our clients, something which has previously been more associated with the permanent market. 

We also saw further evidence of increased internal mobility as companies look to reduce recruitment costs by redeploying employees whose positions may have been offshored/nearshored. This emphasis on cost cutting was further reinforced by the expansion of the direct recruitment at the majority of the large banks and asset managers.

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