UAE: Hiring Competitive and Optimistic for Banking and Finance Sector

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In March of this year, online postings for job vacancies in the banking and finance industry rose by 38% year-over-year in the United Arab Emirates. A recent study suggests that highly qualified finance workers are now finding themselves in control of the recruitment process as the demand for talent exceeds the number of available workers with adequate skills. Recruiting candidates for finance and accountancy roles has become highly competitive throughout the region. Managers in the UAE’s finance sector fear that they are losing skilled workers, to companies (and suppliers), for the benefit of the United Kingdom and the United States.

Senior financial officers throughout the region worry that their top performers will leave their current posts, to accept jobs in markets overseas, where they are tempted by the moderate climates and attractive compensation packages. A recent survey found that over 25% of these financial officers were “very concerned” while nearly 65% were “somewhat concerned” that they would be losing staff in 2016. Despite the skill shortages, hiring for finance and accounting professionals is on the rise, with online job postings up 43% for the UAE market and 67% across the region.

Financiers have said that many prospective candidates lack the right technical and commercial skills to work in top-level finance and accountancy. Of those surveyed, nearly 50% have stated that recruiting skilled talent has become more challenging this year than in the past, citing a lack of niche technical expertise as the greatest obstacle. While a quarter of respondents said that candidates simply do not have the right business and commercial skills for the positions for which they are being considered.

Additionally, employers are proactively attracting talent already in the UAE. However, they are also willing to offer highly competitive pay and benefits packages to candidates who are willing to move to the region. Professionals within the region have been surveyed to state that living costs are 20% higher in the UAE this year, as opposed to last year. Inflation rose 4.3% from May 2014 to May 2015 and the UAE registered its highest rate since 2009, in August of this year. Analysts anticipate that the cost of wages, and thus bill rates and other incentives, will increase throughout the region in most sectors making cost efficiency and talent shortages by far the most concerning metric when sourcing talent throughout the UAE.

Despite these challenges, more than one-third of the financiers surveyed plan to create new roles within their businesses. Roughly 85% were confident that positive economic growth would continue in the coming year. While the oil and gas markets have stalled (due to global market conditions and commodity price drops), the UAE is still an attractive market. The country has experienced growth in the pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, construction and real estate sectors over the past year. This growth, anticipated to continue in other sectors, will benefit the banking and finance industry overall. This is because loans and advances in the region are on the rise, creating higher demand for niche skilled financing and loan specialists in the workforce. Retention concerns will, in turn, be high on employers agendas as they determine the best ways to keep their existing top performers.