Scotland business

Big job losses expected in financial services, says CBI

Image caption Financial services firms expect profitability to rise strongly in the next quarter, according to the survey

About 10,000 jobs may have been lost from the financial services sector in the last quarter, according to the CBI.

The employers' body said it expected to see a large fall in employment over the three months to June.

However it forecast a slight improvement in employment in the next quarter.

The CBI did not say how many of the estimated job losses would come from the sector north of the border.

Its prediction came as a survey suggested optimism is growing in the financial services sector on the back of a strong rise in business volumes.

The CBI/PwC Financial Services Survey found confidence within banking increased in the last quarter at its fastest rate since 2000.

Optimism was lifted by "strong activity with commercial and retail customers".

Only the life insurance sector reported business volumes shrinking and optimism falling.

Profits 'dip'

The survey indicated that overall profits growth for the financial services sector dipped slightly, as expected.

A sharp fall in average operating costs and strong business growth were offset by flat average commissions, fees and premiums, according to the survey.

However, respondents expected profitability to rise strongly in the next quarter, as a result of growth in business volumes and further predicted falls in average costs.

Sector jobs

Employment fell unexpectedly in banking and securities trading, and growth was weaker than expected in general insurance and investment management.

After falling over the past three months, headcount across financial services as a whole is expected to grow very slightly next quarter.

However, about a third of respondents said they believed that labour shortages will constrain investment, while a similar proportion expected the availability of professional staff to limit the level of business over the next year.

Lindsay Hayward, head of financial services tax at PwC in Scotland, said: "Banking appears to be more upbeat of late, with confidence increasing at its fastest rate since 2000.

"This can be put down to a number of factors from a healthy rise in business volumes to strong activity with commercial and retail customers.

"While this doesn't necessarily mean that credit appetite is growing, it does imply an improvement in economic performance.

Regulation 'concerns'

He added: "While optimism continues to grow among investment managers, a significant contributor to the Scottish financial services market, many remain concerned around regulation despite improving clarity around supervisory changes.

"The proposed EU bonus cap is of particular concern, with investment managers expecting the proposal to make staffing costs less flexible and increase difficulty in retaining talent."

CBI director of economics Stephen Gifford said reacting to regulation would "continue to eat into investment budgets" and constrain business expansion for some time to come.

He added: "Firms are learning to manage relationships with two new regulators; banks are grappling with structural reforms and fresh capital requirements; and the Parliamentary Commission on Banking has proposed substantial changes on governance and internal controls."

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