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City vacancies and job hunters halve in two years

Morgan McKinley’s London Employment Monitor shows economic uncertainty has put London’s financial and technology jobs market on the back foot as a result of Brexit confusion, writes Hakan Enver.

Hakan Enver

June 2019

We closed 2018 with a dramatically poor jobs market because it has become virtually impossible for businesses to grow here. We have under half the vacancies and under half the job seekers we had at this time in 2017 (see charts below).

The contraction is a result of years of Brexit-related confusion that has left businesses and job seekers unwilling and unable to take risks.

London Employment Monitor Spring 2019 highlights:

  • 9% increase in jobs available, quarter-on-quarter
  • 9% decrease in jobs available, year-on-year
  • 2% increase in job seekers, quarter-on-quarter
  • 15% decrease in professionals seeking jobs, year-on-year

The inability of the government to reach consensus on a Brexit deal has crushed confidence among City employers. Even with all the uncertainty of the last few years, there was always an assumption that come 29 March 2019, we would have some answers. Yet here we are, still waiting.

With the Brexit deadline having been extended till the 31st October, the stress on businesses is showing no sign of letting up. The government had over two years to do its homework and complete the assignment.

Right before the deadline, they finally decide to try to work with the Opposition to protect the people, instead of their own political power. They didn’t do the homework, they didn’t complete the assignment and now they’re asking for one extension after the other as jobs continue to flow out of London with Dublin being by far the biggest beneficiary, followed by Luxembourg, Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. It’s astonishing.

For the bigger banks, 29 March was the deadline - there are no extensions. They have rolled out their Brexit plans and are deftly deploying staff and other resources to key EU locations. It’s the smaller firms that are now being hit hardest, as they have fewer resources with which to plan and adapt.

Britain’s technology sector, which intersects closely with the financial services sector, remains the envy of Europe, having earned £2.5bn in new investments in 2018 according to London & Partners and PitchBook. However, it also saw its lowest rate of growth in three years.

Financial services and technology jobs were the crown jewels of the UK economy attracting the best and the brightest to the UK, yet financial services are struggling to recruit top technology talent in the wake of Brexit. Right now, if you’re ambitious and hard working, studying and working in the UK is looking less and less like the way to get ahead.

It will take us a decade at a minimum to clean up this mess, which is why we can’t afford another six months of uncertainty. And we can’t afford a hard Brexit. Sadly, the government has played it in such a way that we may now end up with both.

Hakan Enver is Managing Director at Morgan McKinley Financial Services www.morganmckinley.co.uk

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