The average starting salary for senior workers in the UK financial sector fell 16.5 percent from February to last month, the biggest such drop in a year as the number of vacancies slumped compared with a year ago, according to a report.
Job vacancies at banks, asset managers and some insurance companies were down 57 percent last month compared with the previous year, data from recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley showed.
But while the industry as a whole is hiring fewer people on lower salaries than a year ago, amid continued economic uncertainty, job availability did pick up by 4 percent in the first three months of this year from the fourth quarter of last year.
Investment banks in particular were hit hard in the second half of last year by the eurozone debt crisis, leading to thousands of layoffs in London and other financial centers.
The recent show of optimism tallies with a Confederation of British Industry survey this week that said some financial firms had stopped cutting jobs in the first quarter and were hiring again.
“We are beginning to hear some anecdotal indications from City employers that the market is starting to regain some of the confidence that was particularly low at the end of last year,” Morgan McKinley’s Andrew Evans said.
Even so, last month was a weaker month for hiring than February, with job vacancies dipping 8 percent, a sign that confidence is still fragile.
“Any positive sentiment tends to be immediately canceled out by some form of negative market commentary. We are genuinely working in a confused and uncertain market,” Evans said.
Average salaries for senior bankers, fund managers and senior analysts fell to ￡78,003 (US$123,800) last month. Over the past year, these salaries have risen 2.6 percent, which is below the overall inflation rate of 4.4 percent.
However, bankers might take home much greater sums than just salaries, with the addition of bonuses and share-based incentives.
Middle market professionals, such as human resources officers, junior analysts and project managers, fared worse, however.