The UK Commerce and Industry Finance Market Update

Gavita Phull 14.08.2017

H1 of 2017 can be summed up in three words challenging, unpredictable and lethargic.

H1 of 2017 can be summed up in three words: challenging, unpredictable and lethargic.With global politics, the economy and political instability at home causing uncertainty, it’s no surprise that the recruitment market responded in a similar fashion. 

Across the UK job volume was up by 30% vs H1 last year. However, Q1 2017 felt very different to Q2 2017, with the market grinding to a near halt, and organisations delaying decision making due to Brexit negotiations. This is reflected in the job volume statistics, where there was a 16% decrease in Q2 vs Q1. If you found it tough to secure a role in Q2, you definitely weren’t alone. With more candidates looking in Q2 vs Q1 (a 32% increase), you probably found yourself up against more competition than ever before. 

This was particularly true at the senior end of the market (£120K + or £500 per day), where candidate availability significantly outweighed the number of available jobs, caused by organisations choosing to delay launching new products or divisions until the economic climate in the UK improves. It wasn’t all doom and gloom! Finance professionals who qualified within the last two years were in demand in H1 leading to a 19% salary increase for newly qualified accountants.

Surrey & Sussex

The Surrey and Sussex market performed marginally better than expected. Despite major curve balls from Brexit and the ''snap'' election, we saw a real increase (26%) in jobs created vs Q1 & Q2 of 2017. Noticeably, time to hire has increased by two and a half weeks, perhaps down to extra caution when hiring or more complex selection processes being carried out. Although the volume of candidates actively looking has increased, their desire to actually make that leap and join a new organisation is questionable, with many having a number of pre-requisites and only prepared to move for “the perfect role”. GrowthSimilarly clients are increasingly looking for niche skill sets or are only prepared to invest in new staff if they meet a lengthy list of requirements. If you were an employer looking to hire or an employee looking for a new job and found the market stagnant this is probably the root cause. 

The qualified interim market has increased in popularity with hiring managers, allowing for additional flexibility and the possibility for a temp to perm solution. Interestingly, industries that have consistently hired throughout H1 have been financial services, engineering and manufacturing and their outlook for the remainder of 2017 is positive.

Thames Valley & Middlesex

The market proved to be very busy in Q1 within blue chip organisations recruiting multiple vacancies within their finance departments, surprisingly a significant portion of these vacancies were due to growth. These organisations also hired finance personnel between the £30K- £60K at a significantly higher volume than the same time last year. However, this meant that there were fewer opportunities in senior finance roles in these organisations.

The SME market, although buoyant was a very different story. As the vast proportion looked to invest in systems and tools, create efficiency or capitalise on market conditions they opted to hire senior staff in order to achieve these plans. Our new part qualified and transactional desk also saw significant success in the first half of the year, predominantly in analytical roles, with both SME and blue chip organisations desperately wanting more information in order to make crucial business decisions.

South West

The market in the South West has been fairly resilient in the face of political and economic volatility, with an 11% surge in the value of exports for businesses in the region. Salaries continue to rise for accounting and finance professionals at all levels, with clients consistently seeking a balance of technical and softer skills. This is particularly evident with candidates looking to transition from practice into industry who are still in high demand. 

As the digital economy continues to expand rapidly, the South West remains accommodating of entrepreneurial companies operating in the tech and digital space, supported by enterprise hubs and business acceleration centres. There is also increasing evidence to suggest that millennials and the changing make-up of today’s workforce is forcing employers to adopt a more flexible hiring strategy to attract and retain the top talent in the region. technology

The senior interims market has been unpredictable in the region, with some clients looking to bring in interim solutions whilst waiting to see how the political landscape unfolds, but without perhaps the anticipated volume of opportunities. The South West also continues to experience strong interest from candidates looking to relocate to the region, searching for what they perceive to be a more sustainable long-term work life balance.

Temporary and Contract 

Temporary and contract roles in London actually seemed to fair pretty well in comparison to the rest of the UK business with a strong showing across all disciplines ranging from part qualified and transactional roles through to qualified finance roles. 

The most volume was seen from the retail and FMCG sectors with over 65% of H1’s placements coming from those areas. The London market also saw the number of credit control vacancies continue its upward trend from H2 2016 with again another strong showing. This continued momentum shown in this area points very much towards cash still being king for most businesses in this uncertain post Brexit UK Economy. 

Market confidence seems to be high in London moving into H2 with a number of both large blue chip and SME clients of ours already giving intention to hire with a a number of projects already in fruition.


Gavita Phull's picture
Senior Manager | Technology & Finance