Tuesday 10 September 2019 12:45 am

Hiring intentions climb at financial services firms as Brexit nears

Firms in the finance and business services sector intend to take on new staff at the fastest rate in over a year as they ready themselves for the 31 October Brexit deadline, a survey has shown today.

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Meanwhile, low levels of unemployment and competition over top candidates has seen starting salaries in professional services balloon, with some law firms offering £140,000.

With the latest Brexit deadline just over a month away, firms around the UK are looking to hire new staff at the fastest rate in nine months to help them deal with the transition, according to the latest employment outlook survey from staffing firm Manpower Group.

James Hick, managing director at Manpower Group Enterprise, said a key driver of hiring intentions among finance and business services firms was “organisations planning and having to manage their Brexit plans”.

“A lot of that comes into tax planning,” he said, “for example for a lot of the large London, City-based organisations.”

“For example, they may be operating in different countries, setting up in different territories, or coming out of different territories for one reason or another.”

Yet Hick warned that companies are employing people who can be laid off later rather than making longer-term investment decisions.

“That is really reinforced by the productivity numbers,” he said. “Growth in output per hour has really been very sluggish… but jobs growth keeps growing.”

“It underlies that point that [firms] continue to hire not invest… short term it’s good news, long term it’s very bad news.”

A rise in hiring intentions combined with low unemployment has seen some professional services firms ratchet up their starting salaries to attract their desired candidates. 

“Law firms have capitalised on the uncertainty created by Brexit and are resorting to significant increases in salaries of their newest talents to stave off competition,” Hick said.

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“Within the last few months we have seen the top City law firms dramatically raise starting salaries for newly qualified solicitors to the £100,000 mark. In some cases, earnings can be as much as £140,000 in US law firms.”