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Jobs outlook for UK financial services hits worst level since 2009, poll shows

David Reid
The respected ManpowerGroup survey follows disappointing manufacturing and trade data.

Job hiring confidence in the United Kingdom's crucial financial services sector has sunk into negative territory for the first time since the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, according to a survey compiled by the recruitment firm ManpowerGroup.

Manpower's survey of hiring intentions for the 2018 third quarter described a Net Employment Outlook of -1 percent for the Business and Financial sector, suggesting job cuts rather than job hires are on the way during the summer.

"As the U.K. is a global center for financial and professional services, if the sector's shrinking, it's not good news for U.K. plc. While financial services only employ 3.5 percent of workers, it generates about 11 percent of Government tax receipts," said James Hick, Managing Director for ManpowerGroup Enterprise in a press release.

It is the first quarter since 2009 that the business and financial services sector has recorded a negative outlook in the survey. Business categorized within the sector include banks, outsourcing firms, legal services, accountants and property professionals, among others.

The dismal outlook has followed hard on the heels on Monday's data revealing that British manufacturing in April shrunk to post the biggest monthly fall in factory output in five years. Trade data released at the same time was also unexpectedly poor.

Hick said that a predicted shrinking of jobs in the U.K. banking world are in part due to technological innovation, where humans are being replaced by automated processes.

The recruiter added that new compliance rules, such as the second version of the "markets in financial instruments directive" (MiFID II), are now up and running and that means staff who had been hired to ensure a smooth transition could now be let go.

MiFID is a regulation that aims to increase transparency and standardization across the European Union's financial markets. [LINK]

Weak results in sectors such as public sector (-3 percent) and construction (flat) contributed to an overall national Employment Outlook of +4% for the third quarter. Manpower said 2018 is on track to be the most downbeat year for U.K. hiring prospects since 2012.

Despite the poor U.K. manufacturing data for April, the Manpower survey said factory owners' hiring intentions for the summer are actually "a bright spot". It said a weaker pound was proving to be good news for British factories exporting overseas.

The quarterly poll is based on responses from 2,107 U.K. employers and is used by both the British government and the Bank of England as an indication of hiring trends.