How should employers tackle the IT skills drain of financial services pay?

Companies of all sizes and in every industry are recognising the need for digital transformation with a focus on cyber and information security. This calls for IT recruitment on an unprecedented scale.

In 2021, partly as a result of this increased demand, more than 50% of UK employers said they were struggling to recruit the talent they needed for tech and IT jobs.

This may be easing a little. Many Big Tech firms are announcing layoffs and hiring freezes. Yet there’s reason to believe that other industries – notably the City of London’s legal and financial services sector – may continue to siphon off tech talent.

From a candidate’s point of view, it’s easy to see why. Legal and financial services offer big paycheques. Often, very big.

So what can UK SMEs do to tackle the skills drain that high-paying financial services can cause?

How much do financial services companies pay?

The starting salaries and other bonuses that the City of London’s legal and financial services companies offer tech talent are eye-watering to the average business. It was recently reported that:

Law firm Herbert Smith Freehills offers graduates a starting salary of £120 000

Nearly half a dozen US firms pay their junior London-based teams £160 000 or more

Macfarlanes LLP – a corporate law firm – offers uncapped 11.23% bonuses

These aren’t figures that most UK SMEs would or could ever dream of offering – even if they were crying out for tech talent, which many are.

How to tackle the financial services IT skills drain

1) Go deeper into the talent pool

There’s a reason why so many employers and IT recruiters alike have been pushing the benefits of choosing new hires by their cultural fit rather than hard skills in the past few years.

Firstly, it works for building a loyal, dedicated team full of needed skill sets. Secondly though, it’s a great way to broaden the talent pool to candidates with incredible potential and great soft skills but theoretically less relevant hard skills.

2) Use an IT recruitment specialist to find talent

It’s hard to connect with the best talent out there if you don’t know where to look. Working with a specialist IT recruitment company has never been so relevant than in times when there is a high level of competition for candidates.

3) Publicise opportunities for career progression

Even more than record-breaking salaries, more candidates than ever before are making opportunities for career development and training the make-or-break factor governing the employer they choose.

Promoting what you offer in this line (and, critically, following through on these commitments) is a fantastic way to recruit for difficult-to-fill IT jobs in today’s market.

Skills training in fields like data, machine learning, and cyber and information security have never been perceived as so valuable by the market at large.

4) Offer status instead of salary

What’s the cliché? Money is one thing. But recognition and status? They’re priceless.

Even steps as simple as gently inflating titles to recognise the opportunities and responsibilities they represent can act as a subtle draw to candidates looking for their next tech, engineering, or IT job.

Go further than this to advertise the ways you recognise hard work and offer status to attract more high-quality candidates than you otherwise would.

5) Concentrate on culture

In a highly competitive IT jobs market like the one that the UK faces today, some organisations have found success by promoting the culture and benefits they offer.

It’s the equivalent of a country that focuses on soft power instead of hard power. You might not be able to compete on military might (pure salary level), but you might have much more to offer candidates in the way of happy working conditions and opportunities.

Anonymous employer review sites like Glassdoor have made the working conditions companies offer more relevant than ever.

If you can showcase your business as one with a positive working environment or a focus on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) goals, you can attract skilled candidates that don’t fancy the potentially cut-throat, highly competitive world of legal and financial services.

What more can you do to find the right candidate for your key tech vacancies?

Let’s talk. Ernest Gordon is a specialist IT and engineering recruitment company. We use market-leading AI recruitment technology to match you with the best professionals.

Set up an obligation-free discussion about your specific recruitment needs with one of our expert advisors today.