Financial services labour demand: how much regional variation is there?

13 November 2023

We have created a proxy dataset to analyse demand for various types of financial services jobs over time and by UK region

In my last post, I looked at financial services employment, roles and skills. Combining official and experimental data gives us a more nuanced (though still imperfect) understanding of labour demand within the sector. But one important angle that is still missing from the analysis is the geographical concentration of demand.

Another experimental dataset can start to give us a picture of how demand for roles that are common in the financial services sector is concentrated in different UK regions. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published estimates of online job advertisements based on data provided by recruitment platform Textkernel. This is similar to the online job advertisement data sourced from Adzuna used in my previous post. Again, the categories reflect role types, not industries, and give us a useful proxy for labour demand in these role types.

Looking at the whole-economy trend over the past 5 years in this area chart, we can see clearly how demand for jobs in all role types declined in 2020 as pandemic-related lockdowns were imposed—but also how demand for only some types of roles has ballooned since then. Adverts for roles in administration and customer services, engineering, healthcare, information and communications technology, and legal, human resources and social services have been far more prevalent since 2021 than they were in the pre-Covid period, while in other areas the post-pandemic recovery in demand has been in line with the historical trend. Clicking on an area segment in the chart below shows the data for just that role type; or use the filter boxes.

Unlike the Adzuna dataset, the Textkernel dataset has detail by geographical region. So in the chart below, we can see the trend of labour demand by region and—by using the filter boxes—by role type. Use the filter boxes to see the data for a particular role type in a particular region or nation.

The ‘insurance and finance’ data reflects adverts for jobs related to insurance and finance, which may be found within the financial services industry (e.g., ‘bank branch employees’), but may not necessarily be in that industry (e.g., economists). The data show that relative to the pre-pandemic period, demand for finance and insurance roles (as measured by online job adverts) grew much faster in 2022-23 in some regions (like Scotland) than others (like the East of England).

The dataset includes 10 role types within the ‘insurance and finance’ category.[1] Six out of these 10 are specific to the financial services sector (for example, bank branch employees). We created a new dataset using only these roles, so that we have proxy data for job adverts in the financial services sector (because we have stripped out the roles which are sector-agnostic).

With this, we can now start to analyse how demand for these roles has varied over time and by region. The chart below shows that in 2022, demand for managers and insurance specialists surged far beyond its pre-pandemic trend (although ‘trend’ is a bit of an exaggeration, since we have only three years of pre-pandemic data). In contrast, demand for the other roles remained relatively stable. In addition, there was a disproportionate increase in demand for finance and insurance personnel and insurance specialists in 2022. And demand is now declining again across all role types, but the decline for these two role types is more moderate than the decline in demand for managers.  Hover over the areas to see the exact figures for each role type and year, and use the filter boxes to filter by region.

Finally, we can analyse role demand within financial services by region. The chart below shows our proxy financial services job advert data for 2017-22 in aggregate, by region. It shows that aside from London, the South East and the North West are the largest centres of demand. It also shows negligible variation from region to region in the demand split by role type. In other words, in all regions the highest numbers of adverts were for managers, and the lowest numbers were for bank branch employees and the residual category of ‘insurance and finance (other)’. Hover over the bar segments to see precise figures for role type.

It is important to recognise that the job advert data doesn’t precisely measure labour demand in regions and/or sectors; this is why I have termed it proxy data. The ONS notes: “The number [of job adverts] could respond to other changes, such as how positions are recruited for. [For example,] adverts may be posted prospectively or as talent scouting, rather than with a direct intention to fill a vacancy, and so this would not align to official sources of vacancies.”[2] In addition, some of the role types that we have used in the financial services analysis are so broad that they give us limited insight (‘insurance and finance managers’ and ‘insurance and finance personnel’ in particular are vast categorisation that could encompass a very wide variety of roles).

However, the job advert data is a reasonable indication of labour demand. So, the creation of this proxy dataset from the ONS’s experimental data is important because it adds to our understanding of the financial services labour market. Official statistics cannot answer commonly-asked questions such as ‘what types of financial services jobs are most in demand?’ or ‘how does the distribution of financial services job types vary by region?’; the data simply do not exist. Imperfect though it is, analysis using new data sources can at least start to give some indicative answers to such detailed questions. In combination with official statistics, our understanding of employment and labour demand in financial services can improve incrementally.

[1]These are: Accountants, Bank branch employees, Economists, Financial directors, Financial experts, Insurance & finance advisors, Insurance & finance managers, Insurance and finance personnel, Insurance & finance (other), and Insurance specialists.


Anjalika Bardalai photo
Anjalika Bardalai Chief Economist and Head of Research

Anjalika manages TheCityUK’s economic research programme. She leads the team that produces the organisation’s in-house economic research, presents research and analysis externally, and writes TheCityUK’s economics blog.

Prior to joining TheCityUK in 2014, Anjalika spent 12 years with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in the company’s New York and London offices, holding a number of different roles, including head of the EIU’s flagship Country Reports series. She also worked for the consultancy Eurasia Group, advising financial-markets clients on economic and political risk. She has spoken at conferences in a dozen countries across the Americas, Asia and Europe. In addition, she has appeared as a commentator on leading international broadcast media, and has been quoted in print media in the UK, US, India and elsewhere.

Anjalika has a BA from New York University and an MBA from Imperial College Business School. She sits on the Advisory Council of the International Sustainability Institute, and is an Ambassador for the financial-education charity FairLife. In addition, she is Vice Chair of the RSPCA’s London East Branch and previously served as a Trustee of the charity All Stars London and as a member of the Alumni Advisory Board at Imperial College Business School.