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Statistically, it’s just as hard to find a finance job now as at any point in 2013

Confidence has returned to the City job market. Recruiters can talk of hot jobs without immediately mentioning risk, compliance or regulation. Investment banks have even stopped firing and started hiring for front office roles.

And yet…looking at the raw statistics, there’s a distinct feeling that the job market for financial professionals in the City of London is largely treading water. 2,490 jobs were created in August, according to new figures from recruiters Astbury Marsden, which is up 16% on July when 2,150 vacancies were available.

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However, as the chart below demonstrates, with the exception of July (which could be blamed on the traditional summer lull) and March, the number of jobs in the City has largely hovered between 2,300 and 2,600 in 2013. Any anomalies in these figures seem relatively insignificant, particularly when you consider that – as Astbury Marsden says – there were around 13,000 jobs a month in the City before the 2008 financial crisis.

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Candidates are no longer hunkering down and sticking with their current role: 5,600 candidates looked for roles in July – or 2.6 people for every available job – and there were 4,680 applying for jobs in August, or 1.87 people for every vacancy. In January, there were 1.66 people for every job, and in February, when there was a surge in candidates to 6,125, there were 2.37 per vacancy. In other words, it’s just as competitive as ever to find a new position.

Unless there’s a significant pick-up in activity for the remainder of the year, 2013 also doesn’t look like being a great period for new jobs. Based on the number of jobs this year, plus the average monthly figure for each of the remaining months in 2013, there should be a total of 29,121 new City jobs in 2013. According to Astbury Marsden’s figures, there were 35,115 in 2012 and 54,025 in 2011, so there’s a long way to go before things start looking up.

So, what’s changed? It’s no longer just about staffing up for risk, compliance and IT, said Mark Cameron, chief operating officer of Astbury Marsden: “Now City employers do seem to be feeling more comfortable about staffing up in their most profitable divisions. They want to be ready to take advantage of growth opportunities as the economy picks up and the outlook improves for equity markets and IPO and M&A activity.”

Assuming, as many recruiters say, the risk and compliance jobs also continue, 2013 could be a good year for financial services job opportunities yet.

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