Square Mile jobs rise amid uncertainty

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

After a rollercoaster first half of the year that saw jobs spike, nosedive, level off, and threaten to head back down again, the third quarter saw another rise in jobs in the capital's financial sector.

That's according to the Morgan McKinley Autumn London Employment Monitor, which has offered a snapshot of hiring trends in the financial sector from July through September 2019. 

The global recruitment services firm said job numbers were up by 20% month-on-month in July, only to go back down by 11% in August and resurface with a 5% increase in September.

Political chaos  

The 3rd quarter saw the political climate go from uncertain to historically chaotic, as the new Brexit deadline hurtles ever closer. 

Nevertheless, the City largely weathered the storm: the 12% quarter-on-quarter increase in jobs was mirrored by a 12% increase in job seekers over the same period, strong numbers by Brexit era standards.

Brexit pressure 

Consistent with other post-Brexit Employment Monitors, the year-on-year figures continued to paint a bleak picture. 

“Pressure remains strong on both businesses and individual job seekers to hunker down and wait for a resolution on Brexit”, Hakan Enver, Managing Director, Morgan McKinley UK commented. 

“As a result, professionals remain reluctant to move, thus failing to generate new positions and growth opportunities for others, and businesses continue to put off all but essential hiring.” 

“The fact that job seekers are being given added time to get their residency in order, hard Brexit or not, is helping offset some anxiety. 

“But fear of the unknown is rampant and we’re continuing to see employees cling to existing positions”.

International trade 

“We are witnessing a political circus taking place in Parliament, and a political circus on the global stage. 

“Between Brexit, international trade tensions, and opposition politicians pushing for anti-business policies, we are suffering a real leadership deficit. 

“Because financial services businesses have been preparing for a hard Brexit for over two years, they are proving remarkably resilient. They don’t want a hard Brexit but they’re ready for it”.

“We are still living a tale of two economies. On the one hand, unemployment is low and wages are high. 

“On the other, manufacturing is falling and business is operating in a state of perpetual uncertainty. If it weren’t for Brexit, it would be fair to say the economy is doing well”.

“The resilience of the UK’s financial services sector tells me that once the worst of this is behind us, be it a hard Brexit or something more reasonable, the economy is going to come back in full force. You can’t keep London down.”

Investment in fintech

Fintech remained especially resilient, with London besting New York to become the world’s second most invested in fintech city, after Silicon Valley’s sweetheart , San Francisco according to London and Partners. 

The City’s fintech firms also continued to lead in terms of innovation, and are showing no signs of slowing down.

“The silver lining is that larger banks are continuing to keep up their technology investments, making it among the most active and lucrative sub-sectors in the financial services industry” Envers said. 

“It is proving a source of relative stability at a time when the industry is struggling to keep up with daily changes in a complex and contentious global market, as well as facing the looming limitations on its ability to do business with the EU.”

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