The labour market isn’t just competitive for job seekers anymore – while Canada’s unemployment rate continues to decline, many employers are also struggling with recruiting and retaining highly skilled financial services employees.

According to the Robert Half Global Survey Report on Financial Services Hiring Environment, 89% of financial services executives say it is challenging to find skilled financial professionals and 83% are concerned about retaining their top employees.

Based on responses from 1,100 financial services executives including finance directors, chief financial officers and chief operations officers in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States, the survey results show that nine out of 10 executives in Canada are experiencing these challenges – just 5% behind Hong Kong, the most challenging country to find financial services workers in.

Michael O’Leary, Regional Vice President at Robert Half, noted that competition for the top talent in accounting and finance, as well as operations, is intensifying. He listed these skill set areas as particularly in demand:

  • Accounting and finance staff who can manage finance transformation, regulatory accounting and cost control
  • Operations positions
  • Compliance and risk
  • Community, commercial and private banks need relationship managers and operations professionals – loan originators, underwriters and credit processing-related roles also are in demand

Michael added that firms are beginning to show interest in professionals in their early careers again. “The hope is that promising entry level employees can grow with the organization and be groomed for advancement,” he said.

The problem of retaining talent is also crossing the minds of financial services executives across the world. Michael said that employers need to focus on their competitive compensation packages in order to keep their best employees.

“A combination of factors, including heightened demand for skilled specialists in financial services, the growing need for regulatory expertise and operational changes taking place in the industry, may exacerbate current retention challenges,” he said.

Michael provided a list of actions that some employers are taking to hire professionals with hard-to-find skills:

  • Employers need to ensure that compensation and benefits packages are competitive, and that valued team members understand the opportunities available to them.
  • Many firms are again offering raises, but they also are beginning to realize it may take more than a moderate pay increase to keep their best people.
  • Indeed, providing perks is another popular retention and hiring tool.
  • When speaking with candidates, highlight what makes your organization an attractive place to work – for example, progressive benefits or work/life balance perks, training and professional development opportunities available, along with special incentives.

There isn’t one way to go about ensuring a successful hire for your company, but it is important to remember that, when hiring for financial services, employers need to attract candidates, move quickly and offer attractive salaries so as not to lose employees – or potential employees – to other endeavours.

Photo credit: ChrisTylerTO