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North West financial services boom!

Posted by
28 Nov 2014
The North West has enjoyed an impressive amount of column inches in recent months, and for all the right reasons. Confidence has returned to the region, and as a specialist finance recruiter we are seeing the positive impact that this is having, specifically within the financial services industry.

To begin with, Manchester and Liverpool renowned as cities of industry, their respective trades of cotton and sugar insured that whilst there was great poverty in the cities, there was also considerable wealth. As such, banking has long roots in the region, and today we see a diverse range of financial services represented in the North West.

According to The CityUK in 2012 there were 212,100 financial and professional services employees in the North West, which constituted 6.9% of regional employment. Since this time, we have seen expansions and relocations from KPMG, Aldermore Bank, Bibby Financial Services and the Royal Bank of Scotland, to join a roster of companies including Rothschild, Santander and the Bank of America with bases in the region; as well as a wealth of local and national building societies, and The Co-operative Bank.

Last year PWC conducted research to understand what was next for a sector dogged by criticism and redundancies since the crash in 2008. They predict that by 2020, the North West financial services sector will create £5.3bn, as well as the largest job growth outside of London at 19,400 jobs.

Historically, London and Edinburgh have been the financial capitals within the UK, but this research suggests the growth in the North West will be at a similar rate to Scotland. This is unsurprising as the infrastructure in Manchester, Liverpool and Salford is already in great shape, the region a great deal of technical ability, as well as a diverse range of financial services businesses.

This confidence in the market across the region was demonstrated in our Finance and Accountancy Sector Salary and Market Guide, we saw 'cautious optimism' within the sector, but over the course of the year we have seen a 33% increase in permanent positions within the financial sector, the first increase since pre-recession.

There are a number of benefits for a business considering expanding or relocating to the North West. Not only cost savings for overheads and the cost of property, as we saw by the BBC move to Salford two years ago, they, like other businesses had found they could make considerable savings by moving their workforce outside of the capital.

But there is another consideration, and that is tapping into the best pool of talent. Competition in this sector has always been fierce, with the 'Big 4' and top tier firms investing heavily in their employment strategy to optimise the quality of new recruits.

This is of course a national issue, but when it comes to the North West, there is a benefit to recruiting outside of London. Financial service businesses in the capital can expect to pay £50K for a newly qualified accountant, whereas in Manchester this is closer to £35K. £50K in the north can secure a 5-10PQE accountant, so it's not only office space that is better value…

On top of this, with their huge student populations, Manchester and Liverpool are cities which are highly attractive to recent graduates. The next generation of young professionals are leaving university with debts upwards from £30K, and while the salaries in London are still the highest in the UK, the cost of living means that the millennials are looking to metropolitan cities that don't come with such a high price tag.

So what can we understand from this? The North West is an attractive proposition for the financial services sector; the technical know-how, the diversity of business opportunity, competitive overheads and an expanding pool of talent. North West accountants have never been in a better position in terms of choice and also to negotiate their terms.

For a confidential conversation about opportunities within the financial services sector, or if you are looking to expand your team, why not contact me today on 0161 834 1642.
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