25% jump in jobs created by London's financial services sector

LONDON (REUTERS) - London's financial services sector created 25 per cent more jobs in February than a year ago, new data showed on Monday, showing the industry may be recovering from the restructuring and redundancies prompted by the financial crisis.

After a strong January, the City hiring market showed no signs of slowing down last month, with 3,220 new jobs created, compared with 2,575 added in February 2013, according to financial services recruiter Astbury Marsden.

Job creation in the past three months was 34 per cent ahead of the same period the previous year, the figures show.

The data suggests London's banks and financial services companies are returning to growth after slashing thousands of jobs in the face of a lengthy recession and a series of industry scandals that followed the financial crisis.

"The confident mood is underlined by the fact that the banks have shrugged off recent emerging market wobbles and remain upbeat about the long-term prospects for developed economies,"said Mr Mark Cameron, chief operating officer at Astbury Marsden.

"The FTSE 100's recent 14 year high shows that investors'appetite for risk has well and truly recovered." Investment in banks' front office technology, particularly for algorithmic trading programmes in foreign exchange, has created demand for skilled personnel that can hone trading systems to speed execution times, Astbury Marsden said.

"This is potentially a huge growth area for banks, and one in which hiring could be substantial for some time," said Cameron.

A strong IPO pipeline has also triggered new hires at brokerage houses, smaller banks and other advisers.

Investment banks have been looking to add jobs in growth areas like the Renminbi and Sukuk - instruments similar to bonds that comply with Islamic law - markets, the recruiter said.

The UK wants to become Europe's major offshore hub for trading China's currency, hoping it will deliver a big boost to the financial sector and the wider economy.

It is also aiming to be the main Western centre of Islamic finance and is planning to become the first Western country to issue a sukuk later this year.

Separate research published on Monday also suggests the resurgence in the financial services job market has had a knock-on effect on salaries.

A survey by recruiter Robert Half showed that 55 per cent of chief financial officers and chief operating officers are planning to increase existing employees' salaries, while around three in 10 are increasing bonus payments, in an effort to keep their top performers from moving elsewhere.

Employees are also requesting pay rises, as the number of new opportunities has left them feeling they could earn more in a new role, the recruiter said.

Companies have managed to put off some employees looking for greener pastures, however, by introducing more deferred, staggered and contingent bonuses and increasing base salaries.

Staff turnover following bonus payouts was significantly lower after last year's bonus season than in previous years, Robert Half said.

Regulators have been pushing for more deferred awards, which are seen as a way to prevent excessive risk-taking in order to win bigger bonuses.

Financial services firms employ 675,600 people in London and contributed 174 billion pounds (S$369 billion) to the UK economy in 2012, according to industry lobby group TheCityUK.