London Recruiter Says City Job Vacancies Rose 19%

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Job vacancies at London’s financial-services companies climbed 19 percent last month as tougher regulation of banks spurred hiring in compliance and anti-money laundering, recruitment firm Astbury Marsden said.

New vacancies in the British capital’s City and Canary Wharf financial districts rose to 2,600 in April from 2,190 in March, the London-based recruiter said in a statement today. It follows a fall in March, when the number of jobs dipped 15 percent from February.

“What happened in March shows how volatile sentiment is in the market at the moment, so any unpleasant surprises on the economic and regulatory fronts could have a rapid chilling effect,” said Mark Cameron, chief operating officer of Astbury Marsden in the statement. “We don’t expect to see more aggressive hiring resume until banks have clear plans as to which areas they are going to target for growth.”

Firms in the City have been hiring to improve compliance and reduce risk amid regulatory scrutiny following scandals including interest-rate rigging and money laundering. Banks, insurers and asset managers may add 4,000 jobs in the first half of the year, ending three consecutive quarters of cuts, the Confederation of British Industry said last month.

‘Most Profitable’

“Regulation is still driving recruitment in the City, as banks focus on trimming their businesses back to their most profitable areas in order to manage new capital requirements,” said Astbury Marsden in the statement.

European corporate and investment banks face a reduction in profitability from increased taxation, compensation restrictions and regulatory burdens, according to a report by Oliver Wyman and Morgan Stanley last month.

European lenders including Barclays Plc, Deutsche Bank AG and UBS AG have trimmed costs by cutting jobs and selling assets to meet tougher capital rules under Basel III international standards.

Astbury Marsden also said that financial-services employees are cautious about switching positions, with 1.75 qualified candidates applying for each new job compared with a 12-month average of two.

“Candidates know how fragile the market is, and with bonuses now making up a smaller proportion of the overall package, there is less of an incentive to pocket a bonus and then rush into a new role,” Astbury Marsden’s Cameron said.