U.K. Financial Companies Seen Hiring 4,000 in First Half

U.K. financial firms may add 4,000 jobs in the first half of the year, ending three consecutive quarters of cuts, as companies anticipate increased sales, the Confederation of British Industry said.

Banks, insurers, asset managers and other firms probably hired 2,000 people in the first three months of 2013 and may add 2,000 in the second quarter, Britain’s biggest business lobby group and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, said in a study published today.

The projected gain compares with the CBI’s prediction in January for 18,000 job reductions in the first quarter, in the industry that employs about 1 million people in the U.K. The reversal comes as some financial firms hire compliance workers to prevent further scandals such as loan insurance mis-selling and sanctions violations amid increased regulation and scrutiny. HSBC Holdings Plc, Britain’s largest bank by market value, said last month it would spend an extra $500 million a year on compliance and legal staff.

“Firms are beginning to sense the prospect of some pickup of business activity and want to make sure they’re ready to take advantage of that,” Matthew Fell, CBI director of competitive markets told reporters in London. “The picture is becoming a little clearer on what is to be done on the regulatory front, and that’s perhaps why we’re seeing some stabilization, some flattening out.”

Trading Gains

The CBI’s survey found 32 percent more respondents said trading increased in the three months through March and 27 percent forecast higher sales in the current quarter.

The London-based CBI and PwC surveyed 96 banks, insurers, customer-owned lenders, investment managers and securities firms from Feb. 20 to March 7.

The U.K. economy will avoid another recession and exports will help propel a “modest” recovery this year, according to the British Chambers of Commerce. The BCC’s measures of domestic and foreign demand at manufacturers and services companies all rose last quarter, the London-based group said in a report today.

Britain’s manufacturing slump eased in March and services continued to expand, economists said in Bloomberg News surveys. The Bank of England will leave its target for stimulus unchanged at 375 billion pounds ($571 billion) after a two-day meeting that starts tomorrow, according to another Bloomberg survey.

Job vacancies at London financial-services companies jumped 76 percent in January as firms sought to hire compliance staff, according to Morgan McKinley. Vacancies in London’s main financial district, known as the City, and elsewhere in the British capital climbed to 2,331 from 1,323 a month earlier, the recruitment consultant said in February.