Rewards down for senior staff starting in financial sector

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THE average starting salary for senior workers in the UK financial sector fell 16.5 per cent from February to March, the biggest such drop in a year as the number of vacancies slumped compared with a year ago, according to a report.

Job vacancies at banks, asset managers and some insurance companies were down 57 per cent in March compared with the previous year, data from recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley showed.

But while the industry as a whole is hiring fewer people on lower salaries than a year ago, amid continued economic uncertainty, job availability did pick up by four per cent in the first three months of 2012 from the fourth quarter of 2011.

Investment banks in particular were hit hard in the second half of last year by the eurozone debt crisis, leading to thousands of layoffs in London and other financial centres; Liberum Capital and Investec both pulled out of corporate finance work in Leeds in recent months.

The recent show of optimism tallies with a Confederation of British Industry survey this week that said some financial firms had stopped cutting jobs in the first quarter and were hiring again.

“We are beginning to hear some anecdotal indications from City employers that the market is starting to regain some of the confidence that was particularly low at the end of last year,” said Andrew Evans at Morgan McKinley.

Even so, March was a weaker month for hiring than February, with job vacancies dipping eight per cent, a sign that confidence is still fragile.

“Any positive sentiment tends to be immediately cancelled out by some form of negative market commentary,” Mr Evans said.