Financial Services Sector Faces Challenges of Attracting Top Clients

May 1, 2013

Banks are always on the lookout to hire capable professionals who can be assets to their everyday operations, but lately the industry has had trouble with attracting and keeping top talent. While the demand for quality personnel has remained high, the supply of labor is dwindling, making for a very competitive climate in financial staffing.

The problem for financial institutions is twofold. Not only are banks struggling to find talent, but they also live in constant fear that their top professionals may leave. A Robert Half survey recently revealed specific data on each of these concerns – of the 1,100 financial executives polled across seven countries, 89 percent said they had trouble with recruiting, and 83 percent said they feared losing their best performers.

Neil Owen, global practice director of financial services recruitment for Robert Half, explained that these staffing troubles apply to all levels within the industry, not just top management positions.

"While some areas within financial services institutions have seen cutbacks, other more profitable product lines are receiving further investment, which has resulted in additional hiring," Owen said. "This is creating challenges in finding the requisite staff to capitalize on emerging opportunities. Competition for the industry's top talent continues to intensify for middle-office and support roles, particularly accounting and finance, as well as operations positions."

A period of decline
According to the Associated Press, the financial sector showed signs of recovery from the 2008 economic downturn, and there was good reason for optimism in the years following the recession. The news source reported that in 2010 and 2011, banks added about 45,600 new positions in the United States alone, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. That was a marked improvement from the downfall that had characterized the previous two years.

The AP now reports that the sector has returned to a period of decline. A group of major American banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – combined to cut 31,000 jobs, or 3.5 percent of their combined workforce, in one year. Workers are beginning to look to other sectors besides banking to find gainful employment.

The financial industry is struggling through a difficult period, and it must do more to meet the challenge of attracting and retaining talent. The business climate is competitive, and banks must work hard to get ahead.