UK financial services facing ‘talent crisis’

UK financial services facing 'talent crisis'

A KPMG study has revealed the scale of the crisis in the industry - as nearly two thirds of those outside of financial services would not consider a job in the sector, at a time when competition is fierce

UK financial services facing ‘talent crisis’

It may not come as a surprise to anyone who has been involved in the recruitment process lately, but KPMG UK has found poor reputation and lack of social mobility are having a severe effect on the financial services talent pool.

Outside the sector, 65% of people said they would not consider a job working in financial services. Of those who do work in finance, 41% had parents in the same sector – that compares to just 12% national average.

Nevertheless, 87% of those in the sector say that they like their jobs, which is higher than the national average of 82%.

The main reason given by those who didn’t fancy a career in finance was that it is perceived to be boring.

Those aged between 25 and 34 working in finance are the happiest employees in the UK, with 90% saying they enjoy their job. And yet, two thirds (58%) of 25 – 34 year olds working outside the sector said they would not consider financial services for their next career move. Their main reasons being because it sounds boring (41%) or because they have no contacts in the sector (16%).

Image problem

The findings appear to point to a gap between the way jobs in finance are perceived and what they are actually like for those in finance roles.

Tim Howarth, KPMG’s head of FS consulting, said: “There’s clearly a gap between what the public think, and the realities of working in financial services. That has to be addressed if we are to attract the diverse mix of skills and experiences needed to navigate the changes going on in financial services and society. Technology and customer engagement is a priority for most of my clients right now, so people working in retail, leisure or IT could have a huge amount to offer. But, the sector has an image problem that’s putting off that talent.”

Social mobility

One of the other issues highlighted by the research was the lack of social mobility. People in finance had a higher than average tendency to work in the same sector as their parents. Two fifths (41%) of financial services employees had parents who worked in the same industry, while the national average stands at 12%.

This trend was most prevalent in younger people with more than half (55%) of 16-24 year olds in financial services having followed in their parents footsteps. This was true of just 21% of 16-24 year olds in other sectors.

“The fact that people in financial services are more than three times more likely than the national average to have followed in their parent’s career footsteps is staggering. There are a few, understandable reasons why that may be – it’s a growing sector and of course, it fits with the finding that those working in the sector enjoy their roles, whilst those outside looking in, don’t fancy it – but, whatever the reason the consequence is the same; a narrow and narrowing talent pool and not enough social mobility. That is a big challenge for the future of the sector,” Howarth said.

Money does make you happy?

Although a high number of respondents said they were happy with their job in financial services, salary was given as the main reason for their happiness, along with career progression. However, given that millennials and Generation X are purportedly more interested in social impact than making money, this seems set to change.

“As automation takes away some of the more monotonous roles in finance, and boundaries between sectors like technology, retail and financial services disappear, firms have to work harder to appeal to young talent. If financial services can’t attract the brightest talent pipeline, someone else will,” Howarth said.

The survey was of more than 500 people who work, in any capacity, by a bank, insurer or asset management firm.

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