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City professionals optimistic about future despite hiring slump

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A new dawn for the City of London? Photo: REUTERS

City professionals are increasingly optimistic about the UK economy and expect the jobs market to start to pick up, despite data pointing to a protracted slowdown.

Recruiter Morgan McKinley said Monday financial and professional services vacancies in London slumped by a third in the final three months of 2019. Its London Employment Monitor found vacancies were down 42% when compared to the same quarter in 2018.

However, the data pointed to an uptick in both vacancies and job seekers in December. Vacancies rose 6% between November and December, while job seekers increased by 38%.

Hakan Enver, Morgan McKinley managing director for financial services, said the figures suggestedconfidence in the economy is rebounding”.

“Job seekers are on the front lines of the job market, which is why it is so encouraging to see them aggressively looking for the next opportunity,” Enver said.

Jobseekers in the City of London have declined markedly over recent years. Photo: Morgan McKinley

Financial regulatory consultancy Bovill said separately Monday that over 1,400 European finance firms have applied for temporary passporting clearance in Britain after Brexit. The data, published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) after a Freedom of Information request, showed most of the firms do not yet to have an office in Britain.

“In practical terms, these figures mean that European firms will be buying office space, hiring staff and engaging legal and professional advisers in the UK,” Ed O’Bree, a partner at Bovill, said.

READ MORE: Fastest rise in City optimism in four-and-a-half years

Despite the uptick in job hunters and vacancies in December, Enver said 2019 was “a gruesome year, with historic job losses and the constant economic insecurity that came with Brexit.”

European banks cut over 60,000 jobs last year, with many of the layoffs falling in Britain.

“2020 will mark a turnabout for the City,” Enver said. “You could hear a collective sigh of relief across London when the election results came in. Everyone is sick and tired of Brexit and eager to put it in the rearview mirror where it belongs.”

Earlier this month a separate survey by PwC found the City has turned optimistic about the future for the first time since 2017, with optimism rising at its fastest rate since 2015.

Even if conditions do start to improve, the jobs market will have to improve markedly to reach the health of recent years. Morgan McKinley’s data shows a marked decline in both vacancies and candidates in recent years.

The number of new job listings in the City of London are far below where they were just two years ago. Photo: Morgan McKinley

READ MORE: Tens of thousands of bank jobs axed in 2019 — and more pain to come