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Behind the hiring trends

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John Newton

Behind our hiring trends

In our Europe and USA Salary Guides for 2020, we highlighted the data driving various trends in governance recruitment this year.

The data is collected from conversations with leaders in more than 450 firms, and from looking at the salary, bonus and benefit packages across all our hires. That means we can share up-to-date, relevant and useful data that helps our businesses to see what the best candidates are looking for and how they can motivate candidates to move to new roles.

For us, it’s really interesting to see where trends in Europe and the USA diverge and where they are broadly similar. It’s particularly interesting this year, of course, as businesses of all shapes and sizes have had to adapt to unprecedented trading conditions in an economic downturn that has been precipitated by a global public health crisis.

As always, some areas of business have been hit hard, whilst others have seen opportunities arise. This has meant that certain of our sectors – like tax management in the USA, for example, where there was already increased hiring to manage new international tax regulations which still need to be implemented despite the pandemic – have seen continued hires during the period. 

Other areas of financial services have remained flat in terms of hires during the initial spread of the pandemic – from February/March 2020. Firms have either stopped recruiting while they monitor the effect of Covid on the business, or have made redundancies to help manage cash flow and to keep the business viable in the longer term. Behind these decisions is an understanding that when the business picks back up again, some of those redundant positions may re-emerge. For that reason, we are expecting that hires in certain areas of the sector may increase during the latter part of 2020 and into 2021. 


Hiring trends 2020

Europe
  • 15% say hiring will increase
  • 50% say hiring will stay the same
  • 35% say hiring will decrease
USA
  • 14% say hiring will increase
  • 42% say hiring will stay the same
  • 44% say hiring will decrease

Attracting and retaining candidates

For those business across our geographies that are still hiring – or considering re-building their workforce – there are several considerations. The first, and possibly most important, is offering a flexible working package. The experience of working from home has shown people that it is possible to do business from anywhere. In addition, they are saving money because there is no daily commute, and they are feeling better about their work-life balance: no need to get up at dawn to get the train, and plenty of time in the evenings for family, exercise or socialising. This has now become a common requirement as far as candidates are concerned.

So, in order to be a competitive employer, financial services companies may have to re-think their benefits package and associated policies to be able to offer this as an incentive: if they don’t, they may lose the best candidates to the firms that do. Of course, salary remains the highest influencer, but firms now ignore flexible working at their peril.


An optimistic hiring market?

Our data shows that in both Europe and the USA, there is optimism about hiring. In Europe, 65% of clients we spoke to said they felt hiring levels would either increase or stay the same during the rest of 2020. In the USA, that figure was 56%. In our US report, we broke down the hiring trends by sector, and this showed some interesting results. We mentioned the increase in tax hires in the USA earlier in this article. Demand for tax professionals was high across the board in the first half of 2020.

It’s important to note that this demand does not just come from financial services firms; we are seeing asset management, technology and other firms starting to make their first tax hires, bringing expertise in house. This is creating a demand for experienced tax professionals across the country.


What are candidates looking for?


Europe
  • Ability to work flexibly
  • Holiday allowance
  • Pension scheme

USA
  • Flexible working
  • 401k contribution or match
  • Pension plans
  • Holiday and PTO
  • Stock options

Our work with clients this year shows that there are still plenty of good quality positions available and, with various redundancies already announced and the likelihood of more to come, there will be some excellent candidates available. Putting together the right package, both for the times we are living in now, and for whatever might lie ahead, will help firms to recruit the best people to help them with short-term recovery and long-term success.


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