LONDON (Reuters) - The number of UK finance professionals seeking new jobs rose by more than 40% in the first quarter compared with the last three months of 2019, even as coronavirus forced employers to pause hiring and cut salary offers by 37%, data released on Monday showed.
According to the latest Morgan McKinley London Employment Monitor, the UK financial services industry suffered a rapid slowdown in hiring in March, arresting a sharp post-Election rebound in January, when the number of available roles increased 97% compared with December 2019 levels.
The number of available jobs dropped by 38%, month-on-month, in March.
"Out of the frying pan and into the fire: we barely got to take a breath between Brexit and this new global crisis," said Hakan Enver, managing director of Morgan McKinley UK.
"Thankfully, City employers are doing all they can to enable remote working to ensure the safety of employees as well as business continuity."
HSBC <HSBC.L>, Barclays <BARC.L>, Lloyds <LLOY.L> and Standard Chartered <STAN.L> are among banks to have pledged not to cut any jobs in 2020 to lessen the financial worries faced by staff as coronavirus pummels the global economy.
Enver said employers were also honouring job offers made prior to the outbreak, in what he described as a collective industry effort to avert the potentially "dire circumstances" the UK faced after its decision to exit the European Union.
However, new projects have been put on hold, slowing hiring for most roles, with the exception of software engineers, IT auditors, cyber security experts and data and analytics professionals, who all remain in high demand.
"Institutions continue to recruit business critical vacancies, whilst at the same time ramping up their remote team systems and practice," said Enver. "Those working in IT and Fintech are going to continue to enjoy a robust job market."
The average salary change for a new employee moving from one company to another also fell in March, with the average salary increasing by 12%.
The increase is the lowest reported in more than two years as firms adapt to the uncertain economic backdrop. In the 11 months prior, the average salary change was 19%.
(Reporting By Sinead Cruise; Editing by Mike Harrison)