Ben Wood Market Insight
In light of the ongoing lack of clarity on Brexit and the UK’s future relationship with the EU, we sat down with Ben Wood, Executive Director & Group Head of Financial Services, and Nick Croucher, Executive Director for Consumer & Industry, from our London office to see how it’s affecting the market on the ground.
The headline? The market is booming with an abundance of roles available and an unprecedented chance to recruit top HR talent.
HR recruitment in the Consumer & Industry (C&I) and Financial Services (FS) sectors in the UK is extremely busy, seeing growth of 38% in the first quarter of 2019 against the same period in 2018. Therefore, despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the UK seemingly remains an attractive destination for large multinationals and growth-stage businesses.
Client-side, instructions are up across the board yet the mainstay of activity is emanating from firms in their growth stage. This includes mid-tier FS firms as well as Private Equity (PE)-backed FinTechs, consumer technology, biotech and pharmaceutical firms. “We’ve actually been involved in a number of HQ moves by PE-backed technology firms from Germany to London as they look to grow their EMEA business and access quality talent,” says Nick. These firms are also looking to recruit at a much higher level than one would expect from companies of their size. “it’s not uncommon for an HRD instruction to come in when headcount hits 25,” explains Nick, “investors, and leadership teams, are really starting to recognise the strategic role HR plays in achieving business outcomes and scaling a business, whether that’s through managing the existing talent or attracting new people.”
There has also been an upturn in instructions from the multinationals – both within C&I and FS. London remains a key destination for corporates, with both Chanel and Avon amongst others continuing with their HQ moves from NYC since the Brexit referendum. “Not only does this indicate confidence in the UK but it echoes the wider recognition and trend towards HR being a strategic function,” clarifies Nick. “Leadership teams now want HR to be front-and-centre in their HQs,” underlines Ben. FS firms are also alive to this, “they realise they’ve perhaps been losing talent, especially at the younger end, to smaller firms who can offer a more strategic role,” contemplates Ben “and, although Brexit is making a lot of work for HR teams, there is a very real opportunity to shape the HR and talent management strategies moving forward.”
This means they are widening their searches, “Large FS firms are really open to talent from other sectors. There are certainly regulatory and compliance matters unique to the sector, but they’re looking to bring in new ideas. After all, they don’t want to get bogged down in the transactional side of things and lose sight of the strategic,” reasons Ben “there’s also more cross-over than you first think as technology is blurring the lines between sectors.” Brexit is therefore good news for high calibre HR professionals wanting to move into FS - there is a very real opportunity to increase their technical skills and impact HR strategy.
The impact of Brexit on HR recruitment is therefore huge. The ongoing uncertainty means that HR teams need to be prepared for all eventualities, which means investing in the skills and talent to negotiate them. Furthermore, the dampening of confidence does not appear to have materialised. Perhaps the effects are yet to be felt, but for the time being Brexit is good for business.