By Daniel Hunter

Already faced with a changing regulatory landscape globally, the financial services sector may have yet another challenge: finding and keeping good employees.

In a recent Robert Half study, nearly nine in 10 (89%) executives surveyed in seven countries reported recruiting difficulties, and 83% said they are concerned about losing top performers to other opportunities.

“While some areas within financial services institutions have seen cutbacks, other more profitable product lines are receiving further investment which has resulted in additional hiring since the beginning of the year," Neil Owen, Global Practice Director, Robert Half Financial Services said.

"This is creating challenges in finding the requisite staff to capitalise on emerging opportunities. Competition for the industry’s top talent continues to intensify for middle-office and support roles, particularly accounting and finance, as well as operations positions”.

Eighty-nine per cent of executives surveyed said it is either very or somewhat challenging to find skilled financial services professionals today. Talent shortages, the research found, are especially acute in Hong Kong, where 95% of respondents cited difficulties. Even in France, which had the lowest level of difficulty in the report, 82% -- more than eight in 10 -- firms are experiencing recruiting challenges.

“Institutions around the world need staff who can manage fundamental business needs, drive profitability and ensure compliance mandates are met," Neil Owen continued.

"However, building a team with these skills has become increasingly difficult as firms face a market where the demand for skilled professionals often outweighs the supply”.

With the market improving for financial services professionals who can fill roles in areas such as accounting and finance, operations support, revenue generation, and risk and compliance, employers around the globe are worried about losing their best and brightest to other opportunities. A large majority, 83%, of financial services executives, are either very or somewhat concerned about their ability to hang on to top performers this year, the study found.

The greatest worries appear to be in Hong Kong and Singapore, where a net 93% and 92% of respondents, respectively, cited concerns about losing valued employees. In each of the seven countries surveyed, at least 76% of respondents expressed some level of concern.

“Combined with an improving job market for financial services professionals in specialised roles, the growing need for regulatory expertise and the substantial operational changes taking place in the sector will likely exacerbate current retention challenges. Employers will need to enhance their efforts, including offering salary increases and progressive perks, to keep their most valued employees," Owen concluded.

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