Core-Asset Consulting’s Salary Guide 2022 - 2023 is a combination of market intelligence, salary data, insights and analysis from our consultants.
For the last seven years Core-Asset has produced a Salary Guide for Scotland’s financial services sector. I’m proud that it has become a barometer for pay scales that is closely monitored by employers and job hunters alike.
It identifies the issues that are important to job seekers and the trends and patterns over the preceding 12 months that are likely to impact businesses.
It is designed to assist clients in setting competitive remuneration levels in the year ahead, as well as helping candidates assess their career path and inform their next move.
Whether you are looking to strengthen your business or enhance your career, we hope you will find this guide of value.
Looking back: The retrospective view of 2021
The global economy is currently experiencing massive change, with staffing crises affecting multiple sectors simultaneously. Some areas are bereft of workers and facing massive skills gaps, whilst others can’t hire fast enough. The economic toll of the pandemic and its ripple effects will be felt for many years to come.
Overall, the financial services, asset management and professional services industries have remained broadly resilient, despite the most extreme market conditions in living memory.
The European Supervisory Authorities’ first risk assessment report of 2021 recognised that the financial sector has so far proved financially resilient but notes that ‘the longer the pandemic continues, the more likely it is that there will be spill-over effects from the real economy’.
The UK & the European Union
On 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom officially exited the European Union (EU), an event commonly referred to as ‘Brexit’.
From 1st February 2020 to 31st December 2020 (the ‘Implementation Period’) the UK remained part of the EU customs union and single market, meaning EU law continued to have the same effect in the UK as it did prior to Brexit. This meant that UK investment firms were still able to access the EU under relevant financial services passports (including the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD)).
From 1st January 2021 UK firms lost their financial services passport rights to EU member states and equally EU firms lost their passport rights into the UK. However, UK asset management firms still manage assets belonging to millions of investors in the EU and the UK is still the largest centre for asset management in Europe.
As the commercial and operational implications of the UK’s exit from the EU continues to evolve with ongoing regulatory and legislative developments at its centre, the importance of UK firms monitoring and complying with regulatory change (on both sides of the fence) is of critical importance. Multi-jurisdictional firms must ensure they remain compliant in both operational footprints and must pre-empt any potential disruption to business operations. These firms are now subject to a wholly different regulatory environment.
The COVID pandemic has changed how we live and work in ways that will alter our behaviour long after the health concerns subside. As we continue to adapt to this new world order, workforces will resist any attempt to impose a return to old working patterns. COVID has distorted this vision almost completely. The days of the 9-5 or 8-6 have disappeared forever, now gracing the shelfs as ‘dusty books from the past’, to be open and peered at by future generations with wide-eyed disbelief.
Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention, to survive and prosper in the new world companies and their employees have had to adapt themselves towards home-based working. Moving rapidly to deploy digital and automation technologies, and dramatically accelerating trends that were unfolding at a much slower pace prior to the pandemic, years of technological evolution were implemented by companies in a matter of months.
Technology has acted as a centre point in the metaphysical office environment of 2021, driving normal day-to-day office interactions and meetings online. People and businesses have had to modify their processes and procedures as a new remote-based working culture has emerged.
As more and more companies bring their employees back to the physical office, employers will face the challenge of ensuring that their employees feel safe and comfortable. Although all of us have collectively experienced the pandemic, how we have individually responded both physically and mentally has been unique.
Companies need to accept that employees’ views will continue to adapt and change as the pandemic progresses and that individual attitudes differ based on personal situations, but also interestingly, on demographic configurations.
Labour market volatility – hiring havoc
In September 2021, the Office for National Statistics reported there were 1.2 million job vacancies in the UK. In conjunction with this, the average unemployment rate fell to 4.5%, meaning the UK faces its tightest labour market in decades. The latest Labour Market Outlook from the CIPD shows that one in four organisations expect the number of ‘hard to fill’ vacancies to increase over the next six months.
This reduction in available labour is interconnected to the UK’s exit from the European Union and the exodus of overseas nationals returning to native soil. More than 200,000 EU citizens left the UK during 2020. In reverse, there is also the challenge of fewer EU workers travelling to Britain given COVID-19 border controls and the government’s new post-Brexit immigration points-based Visa programme.
Additionally, thousands of workers placed on furlough at the height of the COVID pandemic also switched sectors leaving cavernous employment gaps. Job shortages across a wide range of critical industries that can no longer rely on skilled EU labour, with a decreased reliance on face-to-face work, means that individuals are applying for jobs in different cities, regions and in some cases, countries whilst still working from home.
While 2020’s turbulence saw employers wrestling with staff lay-offs, furloughs, hiring freezes and pay cuts, 2021 morphed into application shortages, restricted candidate availability and an escalation in the war for talent.
This is an unprecedented labour shortage and there is no unified response to the recruitment challenges because different sectors have been impacted in different ways.
After the earthquake of the pandemic, the tsunami hit. One of the waves was the residual hiring havoc of 2021
Diversity and Equality
For years we have been warning of twin strategic employment threats: 1) the low adoption of diversity, and 2) the failure to embrace effective succession planning in critical business areas. Both are interconnected.
Regardless of size, the adoption of policies to increase diversity seems glacier. COVID super charged these issues, squeezing out many working women and rewinding diversity gains. Enforced working from home caused problems for some parents, and many are still struggling to balance this two years later. Gender stereotyping seemed to be seeping into day-to-day life.
Of course, government policies are predominantly adhered to, and best practice has not fallen by the wayside, however, inevitably, these critical business agendas run for a while, then get side-lined when more pressing business needs arise. Despite all the positive strides taken, post-COVID, we must do more to tackle racism and sexism, while ensuring that we don’t lose sight of less highlighted causes such as class and background.
There is a suggested link that family status plays a significant role in educational, occupational and earnings attainment in later life. The UK is a highly unequal society with deepening income disparities and, thanks to COVID, heightened employment insecurity. If class differences can define levels of earnings and future career progression, then companies run the risk of putting polish before potential.
The FCA will increasingly ask ‘“tough’” questions of firms about ethnicity, gender, and diversity representation, and whether business cultures are open and inclusive.
Greater diversity isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes business sense. It’s about attracting the best talent. People want to work for progressive businesses with diverse workforces and flexible working practices. Employers must ensure they establish a culture where people treat each other with mutual respect, and where bias, bullying, discrimination and micro-aggressions are actively tackled.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG)
It’s taken a global virus to shine a light on the intricate nature and interconnectivity of the human race and to act as a stark reminder of how our actions directly and indirectly impact others. Since the outset, the pandemic has resulted in greater scrutiny been placed on the roles and responsibilities of businesses, not just to deliver financially, but to bring a net benefit to society and the planet, to ‘care’ about employees and ‘think’ about the impact of their actions.
Typically, we look to governments to make the big, meaningful and high-impact changes that might halt droughts, flooding, crop failures and the plethora of extreme weather events which are becoming the new norm. However, just like the current global pandemic, we all have a collective responsibility to positively participate and reverse the effects.
Awareness and commitment to ‘positive planetary impacts’ is vital. A focus on ESG issues isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ for corporate entities, it’s something that shareholders, investors, employees and clients are demanding. ESG matters to corporate performance. The definition of ‘fiduciary responsibility’ is shifting to something much wider than a focus on investment returns. It is now a violation of this responsibility not to consider non-financial outcomes for clients.
However, investment management companies face a pincer effect. On one side, increased expectation from clients and investors for stocks to meet changing perceptions on green, renewable and climate-based issues. On the other, enhanced global commitment on climate change and the search for common definitions, corporate reporting and consistent metrics. Regulators are also growing increasingly concerned about ‘greenwashing’.
2. Market Commentary
Fund Management: Front Office
Market consolidation has been a major theme in the industry over the last ten years, and within Scotland, this has resulted in market polarisation with larger asset management houses at the top and boutique players at the bottom. Headcount in these organisations range from five to 2,500+, offering divergent career options between global operators, small boutiques and independent teams.
Irrespective of size, asset class or style, whether equity, private equity, fixed income, multi-asset, growth, value or GARP, the nature of investment management is one of intellectual debate and research. Investment decisions hinge on the amount of information available, the assessment of that information, what picture it presents now, and what this will look like in the future. The key take away is always: What lessons can be learned?
At times of global market turmoil, such as COVID, portfolio managers must react quickly to enable fast analysis and decision making across all parts of the portfolio management process; communication and rigorous intellectual debate is key. The very nature of the industry benefits from face-to-face interaction. Managing investment portfolios, selecting stocks, researching investment cases and dealing with technically sophisticated clients, there is always the requirement for teams and employees to share, collaborate, debate and discuss, challenging each other towards the best possible outcome for both the company and its clients.
To remain relevant and avoid the risk of becoming obsolete, fund managers and investment portfolios also need to continue to enhance and increase the factoring of ESG issues and frameworks into their investment construction process. Historically, ESG was separated from portfolio management and sector analytics, however, from a recruitment perspective, we are starting to see this change. ESG is no longer a box-ticking exercise where investment houses can take the path of least resistance, it is expected that it is now an integral part of the investment process.
With increased remote working on the horizon, fund houses will need to move quickly to understand employees’ needs.
Managing productivity whilst ensuring employee wellbeing will continue to be a key consideration. Measuring employees on their outputs, rather than hours worked, could be a critical move, ensuring organisations adapt whilst still meeting employee expectations on flexible working.
Fund Management: Middle Office
Scotland is, and will remain, a strong centre of excellence for investment management. This is primarily due to the historic roots of the sector, the established talent pool and the outstanding reputation and well-recognised global footprint of the companies located here.
During 2021 the biggest driver for recruitment in the middle office space was the modification of European distribution rights as a direct result of Brexit, and operational consideration of how investment managers can expand the scope of ESG considerations within their funds.
The driver: The EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) requires companies to disclose whether and how ESG factors are integrated into investment decisions, and by the end of 2022, whether and how adverse impacts are considered and reported. Each investment strategy or fund must be classified. These company level and product-specific disclosures must be included in pre-contractual documents, periodic reports and on firms’ websites and marketing literature. Firms must also publicly disclose how their remuneration policies are consistent with the integration of sustainability risks.
Fund management houses have required additional support and advice around the potential impact of these changing/impending regulations and the implementation of these new frameworks which has led to an increased demand for product specialists and/or technical client relationship management professionals to assist with the articulation of how this issue may, or may not, impact clients’ investment strategies.
These new regulations will also place a demand on operational middle office areas and form a direct impact on how fund management houses distribute and manage investment reporting cycles. With fund compliance, fund registration, investment risk and regulatory risk considerations taking centre stage. Implementing new technology and infrastructure platforms to support the above will require the upskilling of employees. This will be critical to allow them to become familiar with new digital infrastructure and changing legislative requirements.
Retail and institutional marketing, technical sales, client service and investment specialist candidates, especially those with European and international language skills (Mandarin/Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian) are in relatively high demand, with the Investment Management Certificate (IMC) being an occupational professional requirement and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification a benefit overall.
Scotland continues to be a key hub for larger, more globally based investment operations businesses. Since the mid-1990s there has been a historic trend to relocate technically complex operational roles to Edinburgh and Glasgow from other more internationally located processing hubs. This includes functions such as mainstream investment operations; fund performance, pricing, settlement, corporate actions and regulatory reporting, to more specialist areas such as derivatives or trustee and depositary/fiduciary operations.
Given the polarisation of the Scottish investment community, the market also supports a small but stable number of boutique investment businesses and private wealth practices with internal investment operations functions, providing an interesting variety of career choices and cultural options to potential employees. For many, the opportunity to work in smaller businesses holds appeal, allowing direct ownership of tasks/projects and exposure to senior management. For others, the structured career paths of larger companies provides a clear development path.
Irrespective of size and scale, during 2020 and into early 2021, the uncertainty of the global operating environment and the ramifications of COVID led to a hiatus in headcount. AUM increases and new business slowed, which resulted in a destabilisation of the sector. By the fourth quarter of 2021 it was clear that the market was quickly rebounding; growth plans were being progressed and internal projects were moving forward at speed.
This increase of roles in projects coupled with ‘business as usual demand’ for candidates with investment operations experience resulted in skill set ‘hot spots’, specifically in specialist finance areas such as tax and audit, SRI/ESG, risk, and compliance and business change analysts/developers.
Many functional areas of investment operations have experienced significant candidate shortages, magnifying the challenges of an already tight market. Candidates in finance and client services have experienced a 15–20% uplift in retention salaries. This is likely to be a continued trend in 2022. Demand for talent in these niche areas has been abated somewhat by the ability of hiring firms to have employees based anywhere in the UK; remote working means that a geographically flexible work force is now a more feasible option for Scotland-based firms.
Accounting & Finance
Since the start of the pandemic, companies around the world have had to adapt to a disruptive, uncertain landscape, reassessing operational processes accordingly. Many firms have largely adapted to hybrid work models, implementing financial and accounting systems that employees can access securely, whether they are in the office or at home. This trend has also been locally evident in Scotland where the accounting and finance landscape has been shaped by organic growth of the global practices at the top, the development of internal corporate functions in the middle and the emergence of start-up teams at the bottom, particularly in the fintech and renewable energy sectors.
As operational processes have had to evolve, so too have people. With economic uncertainty an almost constant companion, retaining quality employees (across all sectors) has never been more important. In times of change, it is normal for people to reconsider their priorities and think about what is important to them. Successfully navigating ‘employee job crises’ brought on by the pandemic will rely on a company’s ability to react nimbly to these trends and stay one step ahead. It remains to be seen what long-term effects, both positive and negative, will evolve; however, adaptability by employers may well be the key to stabilisation.
Whether businesses are looking to increase headcount, be that a listed international firm, global accountancy practices or small to medium enterprises (SMEs), each will need to outline their unique selling points to potentially attract the best talent.
The accounting and finance profession is constantly evolving. While some changes are in response to economic drivers, which COVID has accelerated, many are driven by the continual evolution of industry technology. Finance and accountancy professionals must work to enable their enterprises with strong financial information, delivered efficiently and with transparency, whilst keeping up to date with evolving technologies.
Chartered accountants have a key role to play in ensuring that the expectations of stakeholders both inside and outside their organisations are met. Artificial intelligence (AI) and business intelligence (BI) tools can help finance professionals be more productive and efficient. BI tools (application software) leverage embedded AI and machine learning to analyse data and offer predictions to aid corporate decision making, normally through collecting and processing large amounts of unstructured data from internal and external systems. Typically used for more straightforward querying and reporting, BI tools comprise of a broad set of data analysis and applications, including ad-hoc analysis, querying and enterprise reporting.
Additionally, the automation of financial planning and analysis (FP&A) for forecasting and budgeting can streamline major business decisions and strengthen the understanding of financial forecasting and corporate health. Using a corporate FP&A system, finance teams can combine financial data, operational data and external data (like market trends) in one place, reducing errors and simplify tasks.
As we move forward into 2022 and beyond, the accounting and finance market will need individuals that can think internationally, understand complex technical accounting issues and have sound industry reporting standards knowledge, with enhanced business analytics and automation skills.
Private wealth management
The pandemic has impacted the private wealth management sector on multiple levels and firms have had to adjust their engagement models to maintain the ‘trusted partner’ status with clients.
Human capital is a private wealth firms’ biggest strength, serving the needs of clients, managing portfolios, conducting research, running operations, dealing with regulatory and compliance issues; the list is almost endless.
To meet the ongoing challenges of this pandemic, private wealth firms will need to continue embracing the latest technology and develop a sufficient amount of flexibility in operational methodology. A failure of any firm to address these items will run the risk of disenfranchising even the strongest employee-employer relationship.
As the economy stabilises post-COVID and with inflationary increases taking effect, job security will be at premium in 2022 and employees may decide that it's best to stay put and weather the storm with their current employer over considering a new position. Where businesses are looking to hire, be that listed international firms or boutiques, each will need to outline their unique selling points to attract the best talent.
Diversity agendas also remain of paramount importance in the private wealth sector. People want to work for progressive businesses with diverse workforces and flexible working practices. It is not unreasonable for employees, who have managed through lock-down to balance their various personal commitments and childcare responsibilities, to expect or ask for plasticity to core hours.
Culture, reward, diversity, sustainability, progression, variety of work and ethics will be some of the metrics applicants will be evaluating fully in this more complex marketplace. Engaging passive candidates could be harder than ever before, with market fear curtailing movement. It is anticipated that the top talent will continue to be passive and, in all likelihood, will take convincing to change career paths.
These profoundly difficult times have also changed perceptions for clients on personal health, wealth planning and succession planning, amplifying the appeal of ESG principles.
A new generation is evolving, who’s perceptions are being shaped and carved, like mountains during an ice age
ESG investing presents opportunities for proactive wealth managers who are looking to maintain and grow their client base. ESG offers options to personalise investment portfolios and strategies aligning the financial goals of clients with their wider ethics and values. Ongoing developments in investment and portfolio analytics can assist with transforming portfolios towards an ESG slanting, bringing new ways to engage with clients, manage relationships and mitigate risk.
Finding the right return/risk combinations for clients and developing investment solutions to support an increasingly complex set of client expectations will be challenging. Knowing how to achieve multiple, often conflicting investment strategies, while putting the customer first, acting in their best interest, and closely monitoring regulatory views on consumer protection, will be taxing.
Risk and Compliance
As the commercial and operational implications of the UK’s exit from the EU continues to evolve with ongoing regulatory and legislative developments at its centre, the importance of UK firms monitoring and compiling with regulatory change, on both sides of the fence, is of critical importance.
To successfully navigate this complexity the UK and EU created a joint declaration for regulatory cooperation which would operate as a conduit for the exchange of regulatory views, maintaining a durable and stable working relationship. This joint declaration, the Memorandum of Understanding, created a framework for voluntary cooperation on financial service operations, allowing certain activities, including fund manager outsourcing and delegation, to continue to be carried out by UK-based entities on behalf of counterparties based in the EU.
Multi-jurisdictional firms must ensure they remain compliant in both operational footprints and must pre-empt any potential disruption to business operations. These firms are now subject to an increasing number of different international regulatory frameworks.
Whilst the exit of the UK from the EU increased risk, compliance and regulatory complexity for financial services and professional services companies, the pandemic also triggered a technological transformation, adding to already substantial risk and compliance obligations.
Businesses need to consider when, not if, external threats will test IT infrastructure. In the face of increasing cyber-attacks, cybercrime and malicious intent, system controls and governance must be compliant, strong and robust. To successfully navigate, companies need to review and strengthen their digital security strategies, addressing requirements for multi-factor authentication and encryption, guarding against the increasing risk of data breaches in GDPR and the potential for corporate reputational damage or blackmail.
Operational resilience is also being redefined and is now viewed as a key element of effective business strategy. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is exploring harmonization of reporting by members to their regulators with the aim of improving online resilience guidelines, specifically in areas such as anti-money laundering risk mitigation, compliance reporting and potential non-compliance penalties. The FCA has also set out its new approach to operational resilience for investment managers. The policy aims to ensure that firms plan appropriately and deliver improvements to their operational resilience so that they can respond effectively to disruptions to their most important business services.
During 2021, the recruitment market in risk and compliance remained relatively consistent with global businesses, financial services companies, international fund managers and boutiques looking to add specialist head count. This has created an interesting divergence of career choices and cultural options for those seeking to move roles. For many, the opportunity to work in a smaller business held appeal, allowing direct ownership of tasks/projects and exposure to senior management. For others, the structured career paths that larger companies offer allowed a clear development path.
Given the current operating climate, moving into 2022, overseas experience, regulatory compliance and financial crime skills will continue to be in high demand
In September 2021 the Law Society of Scotland carried out a survey of 136 private practice firms to understand the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the results of which were published in November 2021. The findings indicated that the majority of private practice firms in Scotland appeared to have overcome the initial commercial impacts of the pandemic, rebounding and stabilising quickly. Almost half indicated that workloads had either increased or significantly increased, with slightly over one-quarter indicating a decrease or significant decrease, compared with pre-pandemic levels. Although disruptive, the findings suggest that COVID-19 did not have the widespread negative effect that was initially anticipated. Staffing levels and workloads have largely returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Additionally, as part of the annual Practising Certificate (PC) renewal process (2021), the Law Society of Scotland published a number if interesting diversity statistics on the composition of the Scottish legal industry. Although on the face of it, the Scottish legal profession is becoming more ethnically diverse, this pace is slower than is reflected in the wider population. Just over 88% of the profession is white, with only 3.38% coming from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. There appears to be an acute issue attracting BAME men into the legal profession, with only 28% of BAME solicitors under 30 being male.
Despite these excellent strides taken by the industry on gender, there appears to be ample room for diversity programmes to be expanded and improved in 2022. Further industry work is required to address issues of disability, gender, LGBTQI+, race and social mobility.
With ongoing regulatory and legislative developments at the centre of UK and EU discussions, the importance of UK firms monitoring and complying with regulatory change is of critical importance.
Corporate governance will also continue to dictate the direction of the legal market. COP26 highlighted the importance of climate issues, regulatory reporting on environmental impacts and the importance of strong corporate governance. This topic will soon take centre stage and is anticipated to increase demand in legal support in the financial services sector, professional services sector, manufacturing, renewables and many others.
Legal firms are transitioning from their dependency on paper, embracing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, introducing Cloud-based platforms and employing mobile technologies. However, the speed of technological change and innovation needs to pick up pace.
Increased technological advancements will likely create new roles and opportunities in the sector. For the clients of legal firms and in-house lawyers, the increased global connectivity and reliance on technology highlights the importance of lawyers in identifying and reporting on money laundering and other forms of fraud, together with issues such as cyber security, compliance and business ethics.
As a sector, the pensions industry is no stranger to disruption. Over the past ten years, market players have faced the fallout from the global financial crisis, evolving regulatory reforms and now a global pandemic.
Digitalisation has shifted the power balance from the finance providers to the finance consumers. The current operating climate has been amongst the most disruptive that the pensions industry has ever experienced, forcing many providers to reconsider business models. To weather the current storm and build greater resilience they must become instinctive and immediately responsive; specialist technology allows them to achieve this.
The most important transformation is that the transaction point for services is no longer the high street or a physical space or even a person on a telephone, it is now a truly ‘digitally produced’ service. To fully enable this shift and ‘meet the market’, providers have had to invest millions of pounds and resources into the continued digitalisation of the marketplace.
In January 2021, the Pension Scheme Bill completed its passage through Parliament, which was an important milestone for the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP). Completion of the bill unlocked the next stage of law-making around pensions dashboards, which centres the duties on pension schemes and providers to connect individuals to their pensions via online dashboards.
During 2022 one of key industry themes will be the continued unbundling of financial services and its re-bundling around a digital architecture, putting fintech at the heart of the industry. As financial service products have started to be unbundled and repackaged around digital architecture, the market has become more competitive. The line between traditional pensions products and fintech services and platforms have blurred. New market entrants have emulated mainstream providers, embedding themselves in the financial technological ecosystem, and traditional firms operate much more like tech companies.
As such, the sector continues to require ever-increasing reporting and scrutiny to meet regulatory changes and client needs. Focus areas include pensions administration and access, GDPR, operational resilience, prudential regulation, MiFID II and CASS.
The main challenge for all pensions providers and supporting business infrastructure during 2022 will be identifying and retaining the best talent, in an exceptionally limited and tight candidate pool.
Pensions providers must be aware of how to attract the best individuals over and above their competitors; differentiating themselves by offering flexibility, access to cutting edge technology and clear outlines on progression. The move towards fully remote working throughout 2021 may have been forced, but it allowed many businesses to see the value of a more flexible work force, without necessarily impacting productivity. This change in working ethos has also positively increased the representation of diverse and disabled workers across the board.
Financial technology (fintech) plays a significant part in the future economic growth of Scotland.
Edinburgh’s renowned academic institutions, including the internationally acclaimed University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, its long-standing reputation as a major European financial services centre, the widespread availability of venture capital, and the UK Government’s commitment to invest £300 million into the fintech sector in the coming years, provides the perfect conditions for the growth of a dynamic and thriving fintech industry in Edinburgh.
The city is now home to a growing number of fintech firms covering the full spectrum of financial technologies. Companies include Origo (the developer of the Pensions Dashboard), electronic point-of-sale specialist ePOS Hybrid, and the cloud accounting software provider FreeAgent. There are also multiple international companies including Avaloq (Switzerland), Broadridge (United States), PolyDigi (China), Computershare (Australia), KAL (Germany) and EedenBull (Norway).
The supercharging effect of COVID resulted in an extreme stress test for the industry which, enabled by technology, passed with flying colours. The sector has proved extremely resilient to the current global crisis and is emerging successfully from the pandemic. Its continued growth centres on the development of tools and software solutions to meet the need for more user-friendly platforms and applications, seamless data flow, AI-assisted dashboards, enhanced risk management, dynamic data management, online payments and transactions, and the functionality of the digital marketplace.
Skillset demand sits with business analysts and developers, particularly those with cloud technologies, and technical and solutions architects and engineers who can work with clients to truly understand their needs and provide innovative solutions. The sector is well-embedded in truly agile working practises, and as such, has continued to recruit without challenge throughout 2021, and will keep on doing so into 2022, with remote working being the norm.
Payment solutions, accountancy software and blockchain are all mainstream fintech solutions; however, as their corporate applications are cross-sector, successful fintech firms require close working links with legal, IT and marketing organisations. There is also an abundance of work to be done in policy, law and regulation to help firms, both those providing and those utilising fintech, navigate the regulatory and market changes ahead. Given the nature and speed of development in fintech technological, changes are not always clearly defined within the scope of existing consumer protections, prompting national and international regulators to consider whether existing regulatory frameworks are adequate.
As the range and complexity of digital assets continues to expand globally, cryptocurrency is one area of specific focus and has been touted for its potential to usher in a new era of financial inclusion and simplified financial services infrastructure.
During 2022, there remains a significant degree of uncertainty as to exactly how the UK will regulate crypto assets and stable coins and what measures it will take to facilitate innovation in the financial markets. Regulators in major markets are also adopting divergent approaches to monitoring effective risk management for fintech firms. A key challenge is determining how policies should evolve to address both novel market activity and traditional market activity; deploying frameworks that foster innovation, whilst managing regulatory risks effectively.
The EU aims to finalise the Digital Markets Act in 2022, which will reshape how digital businesses operate in Europe and regulate online ‘gatekeepers’. The EU is also proposing an Artificial Intelligence specific regulation benchmark to ensure a comprehensive, risk-based approach for usage, while the UK is considering deviations from EU standards for both data protection and AI innovation. Data protection and cyber rules are also proliferating in the US, as is increasing enforcement against digital platforms. Several markets are also following the UK and EU’s lead with wide-ranging operational resilience requirements.
Interim, temporary and contract
2021 witnessed a steady increase in pay rates for contractors and temporary staff across all areas of financial services as demand increased and the supply pool diminished.
This was particularly acute in areas of high demand such as IT and change, customer service, recruitment, and accounting and finance, where demand has dramatically outstripped supply. These economic levers are creating fierce competition for staff and pushing up rates considerably. In some areas, where demand has shot up, it is now not uncommon to see rates increase by 30–40% from this time last year (accountancy and business analysis for example).
So, why is this happening?
A diminished supply pool has been brought about largely by the ‘perfect storm’ of ‘the great resignation’, which is seeing more people leave the sector, lack of immigration as a result of border changes brought about by Brexit and rising living costs. It is also fair to say COVID has played its part. Flexible, home working practices that allow people to work from anywhere, and now seem to be the norm, means that Scotland now finds itself competing with London more directly for specialist talent. In some ways, we can see this as a good sign in that the London pool of talent is now more reachable for Scottish firms, but as we are seeing, this comes at a price.
The firms that will navigate interim hiring in 2022 best will be those who increase their pay rates quickly (appreciating that by failing to do so they run the risk of incurring greater costs due to delays in project delivery and losing key staff). It may be a hard medicine to swallow, but experience in times of staff shortages shows us that increasing rates early may be the least bitter pill. Firms that fail to act will find themselves with huge shortages.
Firms that also have the infrastructure and ability to hire LTD company contractors on an ‘outside IR35’ basis will also be in an attractive position for the best interim talent in 2022.
One good thing we do expect to come out of the market is the fast-tracking and upskilling of more junior level staff as firms look to the new generation of intakes to close many of their skills gaps — perhaps more so now than in recent years.
The purpose of this guide is to provide insight into current salary and employment trends in the asset management, accounting & finance, asset servicing, legal and wider financial services sectors in Scotland.
The salary ranges quoted are indicative of salaries candidates with similar experience might expect to earn in 2022, and are exclusive of bonus and benefits. Contract and temporary day rates are based on a seven-hour day.
The information in this report is provided as a general guide only. Salary data is gathered from registering candidates, job offers and placements made through Core-Asset Consulting in 2021, including data gathered from our clients and our extensive database of candidates.
Additional market insight is provided by our consultants’ knowledge and experience of market conditions.