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Strategic skills needs in the financial services sector: A report for the National Strategic Skills Audit for England 2010

The aim of this study is to provide an assessment of the skills needs in the financial services sector to 2020 in support of the National Strategic Skills Audit for England 2010, undertaken by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. This report presents the findings of the assessment which, while discussed in further detail below, are that; • Between 1998 and 2007 industry output doubled, but employment increased by only 2.2 per cent. Since then total employment in financial services is estimated to have declined between 5 per cent and 10 per cent; • In the coming decade all the drivers of change, such as increasing levels of regulation, the need for efficiency, consumer demand and globalisation are pointing downwards. In our view, overall employment is unlikely to return to 2007 levels in the next decade and could remain significantly lower; • Historically there have been certain skills gaps and shortages in particular in retail banking, and in retail and wholesale insurance. While some of these gaps and shortages may persist, others such as risk management and compliance skills and actuaries will come to the fore; • Regulation could limit the freedom of banks to innovate. This could result in polarised banking business models, with some banks focusing on core retail banking services, generating lower but more stable returns, while other niche providers serve clients willing to take greater risks; • Efficiency will be paramount in retail financial services as companies look towards recovery and the need to restore margins and profitability. There will be continuing job losses due to branch closures and moves towards more efficient distribution channels, and; • As emerging economies become more important, client-facing front-office functions in wholesale markets will need to be established close to international clients. As emerging economies grow in importance and develop their infrastructure, further middle-office activities may follow.