Market update – March 21

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Notes from the park - monthly updates

It’s happening, jobs are coming back to market at an ever increasing speed and I remain very optimistic on financial services. There are of course headwinds to navigate, but I can’t think of a time in history when there wasn’t. Early on in this crisis there was a view from firms that “we’ll wait until things improve” and slowly the mood has shifted to “we can’t wait forever”. Few years go by without some sort of crisis, clearly most aren’t as tragic as what we’ve seen, but leaders are forever changing tack in choppy seas. I’ve mentioned it before, but it can’t be reiterated enough, the shelf-life of CEO’s is very short and, although the pandemic may have extended this slightly, their shareholders will soon be demanding results. It will be the same for politicians and I think they continue to support recovery and they will spend big. This will be good for the recruitment market and my gut feeling is that for a variety of reasons salaries will start to grow during 2022.

I am ever optimistic that we will find a way forward with the EU on financial services. If we don’t, I think the City will continue to innovate and the industry will be fine. I think some of the challenges will be closer to home. COVID has ushered in some enormous changes, some of which may be permanent. The answer is we don’t really know which ones. So companies will make decisions on issues like flexible working without having the full facts and again we’ll know in a few years who got things “right”. However, being “right” isn’t possible in many of the situations we’ve faced. I think most people have approached COVID in a spirit of co-operation, camaraderie, and positivity, but all of our experiences have been different. We may well disagree with friends, colleagues, and family on the pandemic response, lockdowns, the speed of unlocking, overseas holidays, offices vs WFH and, like with Brexit, all views are valid. We aren’t dealing with a maths problem with one answer.

It is inevitable though that some of these conversations will spill into the workplace. Employers (the vast majority of whom have good intentions) will be judged on their COVID response, some colleagues may want to stay working from home whilst others want to get back to the office asap, and some will love Zoom meetings and others will want to meet people in person. Also, we haven’t socialised outside of our bubbles for over a year. So we’re going to need to be kind to one another, to gradually work through the inevitable problems of re-adjustment, and to accept not all decisions will be correct. However, not every disagreement will be possible to resolve and I expect employee turnover to be higher than normal years – churn as it’s called in the recruitment industry. This, though, will bring change and opportunity to those who are seeking to advance their careers and this is one of the reasons I think salaries will grow. It’s already happening on a small scale and it will only continue.

Moving to non-COVID issues, Fram is committed to being a responsible supplier and many of our team are interested in a more sustainable environment, and so I’m delighted to announce that we’ve offset our carbon emissions. It’s a small step to take, but we’re keen that clients and candidates are proud to work with us. We also undertook unconscious bias training earlier this year. I know this has proved to be controversial this year, but we all felt we learnt something valuable and we’re making real progress in helping clients on diversity.

We aren’t quite out of the woods yet, but it looks like things are going well in the UK. Hopefully surprises are to the upside and we can get more normality soon. I’m craving it and I look forward to seeing everyone again soon.

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