We are certainly facing some uncertainty in 2017, with the big events of 2016 – Brexit and the newly appointed Trump in the US – continuing to loom large. The next few months shall be telling times for Europe and Ireland,  as negotiations over Britain’s exit start to take shape.

Despite all these events, the unemployment rate continues to fall. In March, it was 6.4%, down from 6.6% in February and significantly down from 8.3% in March 2016.  Signs are, we are still in a healthy direction. (Source CSO)

The Banking and Finance sector makes up a major proportion of this employment and we see the growth continuing over the course of 2017. The areas within the Banking and Finance sector we view as promising the most growth  are Fintech, Regulation & Risk Management, Alternative Funds, Aircraft Leasing, Retail & Corporate Banking and Insurance.

The specialist skills that will continue to be highly sought after in each of these areas are:

Fintech Sector – Data Analytics, IT capabilities with FS expertise

Regulation & Risk Management – Compliance, Legal, Operational Risk, Security & Fraud

Alternative Funds Sector – EFTs / Private Equity, Hedge, Investor Relations and AML

Aircraft Leasing – Qualified Accountants, Quality & Risk Controls

Retail & Corporate Banking – APA, QFA qualifications, Credit underwriting, New Business, Financial Advisors

Insurance – Qualified and part-qualified actuaries, complex claims, APA / CIP qualifications, 2nd European language

Some of the other trends we anticipate are as follows;

Expanding pool – We have started to see the trend of returning emigrants and immigration particularly from UK, US and South America.  This poses both opportunities to employers as well as threats to the existing FS labour pool all competing for highly sought after specialist roles.

Growing trend of contract and temporary employment – This will continue for the remainder of 2017 as it had been significant in 2016.  There has been a lot of maternity contract opportunities created within the funds sector as that area matures.  Alongside this phenomenon, there has been a particular trend for companies to hire more roles initially as contract or temporary assignments due to long-term uncertainty, global head office restrictions or projects happening within the organisation such as upgrades, relocation overseas, process improvements and legislative requirements.

Relocation of Services – With the uncertainty across Europe, Ireland may become a home for firms moving out of the UK.  Examples of this already have happened with a global banking firm redeploying staff to its Irish operation.  Other FS players have their sights on Ireland as a location, as can be seen from the holding of rental commercial property in anticipation of a move, enquiries being made by asset management and brokerage firms looking to Ireland as a head office site in Europe.

There is also a continued outward movement of services from Ireland to Europe and  India, with Poland a particularly popular location at the moment. There is significant demand for expertise from the funds sector and IT professionals within Poland.

Salaries and Counter-offers – Salaries will continue to slip upwards despite employers’ attempts to curtail a move back to the inflated salaries of past times.  The job seeker is more flexible regarding salary, particularly when it comes to the trade-off between a permanent or longer term employment commitment or a higher salary.  Contract and temporary employment salaries will need to continue to rise in order to attract the skill level sought.  Counter-offers are starting to creep back in as employers compete to retain skilled staff and job seekers have been placed in situations where they have had to use an alternative offer to command a pay rise.  Employees are more easily retained than ever, as changing employers is perceived as a high risk in this economic climate.  However, there are a lot of loyal employees who have stayed put till now but feel they have reached their peak of loyalty and are not receiving the development or the rewards they would like. Many have their sights on new horizons this year.

Barbara Donnellan is Banking and Finance Manager with Eden Recruitment.