Scots finance sector facing ‘huge hurdles’ including lack of candidates – Core-Asset Consulting

Edinburgh-based recruiter Core-Asset Consulting has issued its latest Industry Trends and Salary Guide, describing the report, which is now in its seventh year, as a “forensic” review of salary levels and a gauge of market sentiment, activity, and the issues affecting financial services across Scotland.

The finance-focused firm says the guide, compiled using entirely Scottish data, “sets the stall” for salary reviews in the sector, which usually happen in March and April.

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The study has found that despite “some of the most extreme market conditions in living memory”, financial, asset-management, and professional services have remained resilient overall, with roles such as business analysts, solutions architects, and regulatory risk in the highest demand. .

Core-Asset boss Betsy Williamson flags a currently massively candidate-buoyant market, driving increased pressure on employers. Picture: David Ho.

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But the recruiter added that vacancies were up 52 per cent and applicants down 5 per cent on the previous 12 months, due to the “perfect storm” of Brexit, increased remote working, the cutting of intern and trainee programmes, and the reluctance of many to relocate for a role.

The report highlights how the number of candidates actively applying for roles was down 35 per cent, and recruiters are having to up the ante to source 57 per cent more candidates than in 2020.

Betsy Williamson, founder and MD of Core-Asset, believes the latest report makes “alarming” reading for its audience.

“With a predecessor as turbulent as 2020, it was clear that 2021 was going to be another year of unpredictable change within financial services, and the sector is now at an uncertain crossroads with huge hurdles to overcome,” she said.

“In contrast to the start of the coronavirus pandemic where many staff were fighting for their jobs, we are now seeing a massively candidate-buoyant market, driving increased pressure on employers to offer better salaries, more flexibility, and competitive perks to attract and retain the best talent.

“The reduction in available labor is connected with the UK’s exit from the European Union… with more than 200,000 EU citizens leaving the UK during 2020.


“Additionally, thousands of workers placed on furlough at the height of the pandemic have since switched careers, leaving massive employment gaps in certain industries, while rising demand across sectors like fintech, and environmental and social governance (ESG), has been driving salaries to unprecedented levels.”

The guide highlights how the number of job listings for ESG analysts in Scotland has increased by 70 per cent over the last two years.

Ms Williamson added: “ESG is no longer a box-ticking exercise where investment houses can take the path of least resistance, it is expected that it is now an integral part of the investment process, and this is reflected in the massive surge in employment opportunities in this field.

“Yet there is a shortage of candidates coming through to meet the demand for ESG-related roles. We need academic institutions in Scotland to catch up with trends and to encourage undergraduates to consider the benefits of a career in this field. Those working in and around the sector must also be encouraged to upskill.”

Core-Asset was formed in 2005, and is now a £14 million firm with 22 staff, operating across the entire financial sector.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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