The City of London could be set for a recruitment boom as a new survey finds that two thirds of firms expect an increase in hiring of up to 20 per cent during 2005.
Figures compiled by recruiter Morgan McKinley also found that almost six out of 10 City firms were finding it more difficult to hire good candidates than a year ago.
Robert Thesiger, Chief Executive of Morgan McKinley said that the figures "suggest that City employers are gearing up for further improvements in market activity over the remainder of 2005 and hiring levels will increase accordingly."
The business areas where demand is currently at its highest include derivatives, risk operations, product control and finance.
Candidates with specialist accounting or documentation skills are also expected to be in high demand throughout the remainder of the year.
"Within key areas such as operations and risk management, where hiring is already at its highest level in years, volumes are likely to continue to increase during the next six months," he said.
"In key areas such as technical accounting, risk, compliance and derivatives, high-calibre candidates with the right skills are in short supply. The market is now very much candidate-driven and the most talented individuals in the market can demand extremely attractive compensation packages.
"These candidates are now receiving several offers at any one time. In certain cases, we have also started to see the return of "golden hellos" and guaranteed bonuses for the very best in the market."
But despite the hiring boom, two-thirds of employers do not expect basic salary offerings to rise dramatically except in specific areas, notably banking operations and risk management, where salary increases of up to eight per cent are expected.
"The upward trend in hiring levels is unlikely to lead to great hikes in basic pay rates for the majority of City workers, as experienced professionals in high demand areas are looking for roles that offer a good overall compensation package, definite career progression and a better work/life balance rather than merely a higher salary," Thesiger suggested.
The figures paint a considerably more optimistic picture of City employment than other recent research. In January, a quarterly survey of the financial services industry by the CBI and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that despite business volumes returning to growth, many firms were planning job cuts to keep their costs down.
The number of people employed in financial services fell for the second quarter in a row at the end of 2004 and the rate of decline had been expected to intensify.
But according to Morgan McKinley, the number of vacancies in the City has risen to more than 10,500, over double the number recorded a year ago, while the number of available candidates also dropped in March by 12 per cent.
As a result, March also saw a fall of seven per cent in the amount of time it takes for a candidate to secure a position.
"Jobs are now being filled more quickly than at the start of the year. This is because banks are realising the need to move more quickly in order to secure the best candidates in the market," Thesiger said.