The number of financial services professionals working as contractors has jumped by nearly half (46.4 per cent) over the last five years while the number working as employees is down 4.2 per cent over the same period.
According to accountants Nixon Williams the number of contractors in financial services jumped from 70,729 in 2011 to 103,553 in 2016. At the same time, the number of employees in the financial services sector fell from 1,059,000 in 2011 to 1,014,000 in 2016.
The number of self-employed people in financial services has increased at nearly three times the rate of the whole economy. The number of self-employed workers in all sectors increased by 17.5 per cent since 2011, from 3,975,152 to 4,672,472.
According to National Statistics, which supplied the data, a person is self-employed if they: run their business for themselves and take responsibility for its success or failure. Under this definition, self-employment can be in the form of a sole trader, a partnership (two or more people who run a business) and an owner of a limited liability company (also responsible running the business).
Nixon Williams says that the sharp rise in the number of contractors in financial services is surprising given that many banks have been looking to bring contractors in-house, particularly those engaged on core technology projects.
Derek Kelly, Chief Executive Officer of Nixon Williams, said: “The increase in the proportion of the financial services workforce operating as contractors has been driven by workers who prefer the pay and lifestyle benefits of contracting and by financial services businesses looking to reduce headcounts and have greater flexibility in their workforces.
“Following large-scale redundancies in the aftermath of the financial crisis, many former financial services employees have gone on to establish their own fintech start-ups or returned to their previous employers on a contract basis picking up projects that were put on hold during the recession or taking on a more advisory role.
“Financial services businesses often look for ways to reduce contractor numbers by encouraging contractors to join in-house teams, but the overall trend is a greater use of contractors. Contractors often possess premium skills, which means that they can move to competitors quite easily. Banks which try to bring contractors in-house risk losing talent, so a tug of war can develop between banks which want to control contractor numbers but at the same time not lose vital skills.”
Nixon Williams points out that contracting was traditionally seen as the riskier option but the erosion of employment rights since the financial crisis have changed that perception.
Derek Kelly said: “Contracting is increasingly both a career and a lifestyle choice. Contractors with in-demand skills are often at no greater risk of being out of work than employees, and the higher take-home pay is usually sufficient to cover any gaps between contracts.
“Contractors in areas such as banking technology, for example, are highly sought-after to work on Brexit-related transition projects. Banks often try to bring these people in-house but our research consistently shows that for 90 per cent of contractors it is a conscious lifestyle choice and not a stop-gap to finding a full-time job.”
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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2017