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Financial Services comment

For the majority of people associated with financial services in 2008 it has been a tougher year than most. The slump in the mortgage market, the effects of the credit crunch and falling UK equity markets have contributed to an overriding sense of gloom, exacerbated by every news outlet in the country.

Over the past few weeks the industry has seen some major players in extreme difficulty, with global firms and banks collapsing or having to be propped up by rival companies or through government intervention.

This changing world might cause a revaluation in what is seen as the more stable parts of the industry to work in. The banks are often described as safe havens, “as they are never going to go out of business”, but perhaps this view will change considerably given recent events. Although estimates about job losses are potentially somewhat exaggerated, it is clear that thousands of individuals employed in the banking arena are soon going to be active on the job market.

At the other end of the spectrum our experience shows us that 2008 has seen an unprecedented number of sole traders deciding to seek alliances with larger firms as the burden of developing new business in very challenging times becomes too much, especially alongside running a company and coping with regulatory demands. Whilst there are immediate tangible benefits to this, many sole traders undertake such a decision with a heavy heart.

With all this in mind and with most experts predicting further difficulties ahead, it would be easy to become despondent. This is particularly true for those seeking a job move.


What has noticeably dropped off has been the speculative hire, recruitment based on finding a role for a quality introduced candidate. This has caused a reversal in fortunes, with it increasingly a client rather than a candidate led market. The effect of this change is a drop in the amount of opportunities available at any one time, although it does not follow that high quality positions do not exist. Further, whilst recruitment freezes have come in to play, they have not been that far ranging. Many companies, especially the nationals, have continued to take on board new employees.

The final quarter of the year has traditionally been one of the busiest periods in the recruitment calendar as firms look to position themselves for the New Year. We do not expect it to be as buoyant this as previously but it is not all bad news. Many firms are proving very resilient, especially those that have tailored their business to build value over the long-term.

Whilst it is equally correct that uncertainty is bound to pervade the industry for a while, there are reasons to be positive, such as the general trend of stock markets doing well in and around a US Presidential election.

Holding on to that type of thinking, let us look forward to better times ahead.

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