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Financial Services Market Overview

In Q4 last year, there was record hiring in the City of London and across sectors. The Corporate Strategy world was no different. So far, 2022 is shaping up to be similarly buoyant. Since ‘The Great Resignation’ started towards the end of lockdown in the UK, the market has become candidate short and job heavy. Candidates used to have only a few opportunities to pick from, but are now being headhunted for multiple roles. The clients who implement pace and agility into their recruitment processes tend to win the war for talent.

Within the strategy consulting world, there are three main opportunities being presented to consultants. Firstly, other consulting firms offering sector specialisms and higher salaries. Secondly, mid-market Private Equity and VC firms looking for consultants with more of a deal focussed CV and competence in financial modelling. Thirdly, Corporate Strategy roles both from the established corporates – predominantly in group strategy or internal consulting – and incumbent players looking to hire into more commercial minded positions, such as product managers or partnership strategy.

The most common level of hiring is still at the two to four-year mark within a consulting firm, where individuals have enough project experience under their belt and are not at a salary level that corporates and pre-IPO businesses aren’t able to match. This in part has prompted the salary hike, seen first at the top tier consultancy firms like McKinsey & Company, that has been echoed across the advisory world as organisations look to try and hold onto talent.

Not only was there a freeze in hiring over the pandemic but also a freeze on investment. The market has experienced high levels of funding across early stage businesses looking to challenge and reshape the financial services landscape – things like crypto currency exchanges, new open banking players as well as digital wealth managers.

The challenge now for established corporates is to engage top tier talent to compete with these incumbent players. These PE/VC backed disruptor firms may not offer as competitive a salary, but sweeten the deal with equity packages that, if the business gets to IPO, are a very attractive proposition.

Eric Girma, former engagement manager at Oliver Wyman and expert in strategy within financial services, reflects that in the banking space, the legacy players are struggling to come to terms with the digital and future channels customers want to interact in. The physical presence of branches is a differentiating factor for the likes of NatWest and Lloyds, but not necessarily one of great value to the millennials who are moving up the value chain and only bank with the incumbent players.

Having the right talent on both sides of the coin (established and incumbent) has never been more important to continue developing and driving change, and producing growth in the everchanging landscape of financial services.

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