"Approved" finance sector workers at 8-year low

LONDON Mon Jan 7, 2013 6:14pm GMT

Workers walk past clocks showing a time of 12 minutes past 12 noon, on this century's last sequential date, in a plaza in the Canary Wharf business district of London December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Workers walk past clocks showing a time of 12 minutes past 12 noon, on this century's last sequential date, in a plaza in the Canary Wharf business district of London December 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

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LONDON (Reuters) - The number of people approved to work in Britain's finance industry is at an eight-year low, down 10 percent from the peak in February 2008 prior to the financial crisis, data from corporate finance advisor IMAS showed.

The Financial Services Authority has 151,835 people on its register of those authorised to carry out regulated activities and provide services such as banking, stockbroking and fund management.

Banks worldwide have been shedding jobs as stricter regulations and euro zone worries take their toll on trading income and investment banking operations.

Separately on Monday, recruitment agency Astbury Marsden estimated 35,115 new jobs were created in 2012 in London's City finance district, down 35 percent on 2011. About 800 jobs were created in December, it said, compared with 1,490 a year before.

"2012 was a busy year for HR departments across the City as cost-cutting remained a key focus for senior management and board members throughout the year," said Mark Cameron, chief operating officer at Astbury Marsden.

"Tighter regulation including higher capital requirements forced up costs at a time when revenues dipped due to a number of factors, including a continued weak economy and less trading activity."

Cameron said cuts had been particularly significant in 2012 because banks had implemented major restructuring, including the winding down of entire business units.

Swiss bank UBS axed 10,000 staff worldwide and wound down its fixed-income business.

Cameron said most of the obvious and immediate cuts had been made and the worst may be over.

The recruitment firm also said hiring prospects could be improved by signs that parliamentarians were getting to grips with the euro zone crisis and by the deal struck by U.S. politicians to delay budget spending cuts and avoid hefty tax increases.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by David Goodman and Dan Lalor)

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