(Reuters) - Global banks are still filling job vacancies in London despite concerns that Brexit could threaten the city’s status as a major financial centre, recruiter Hays (HAYS.L) said on Thursday.
Although many financial companies have plans to transfer some jobs to continental Europe to keep serving clients in the single market once Britain leaves the European Union, Hays said they were holding off on pulling the trigger.
“The banks have got their contingency plans in place, but they’re waiting to see if they can get any steer at all on the eventual deal that will be done,” Finance Director Paul Venables told Reuters.
“The pleasing part is that leavers (in London) are being replaced. This is encouraging for the future of the financial services industry in London. It will still be a very large business when we get through the Brexit part,” he added.
Venables said London banks were replacing departing staff in most roles, including in IT and compliance.
Smaller rival Robert Walters (RWA.L) said on Tuesday that risk, regulatory, audit and cybersecurity were the strongest job functions in finance at the moment.
Hays said banks had begun moving staff from Britain to Europe, but numbers remained relatively small.
It had not received requests for large-scale financial hiring in Europe, mirroring comments from PageGroup (PAGE.L) and Robert Walters earlier this week.
Hays said net fees from its UK and Ireland operations rose 1 percent in the three months ended Sept. 30 on the same period last year, showing an improvement against a 5 percent fall in the preceding quarter.
Hays said its British private sector business continued to experience modest signs of improvement, and Venables forecast that growth in the UK over the next few quarters would remain in line with the first quarter.
“There’s still very tight cost control across most companies in the UK, but some of the investments that were put on hold a year ago, a small proportion of those are now being released,” he said.
The group, which gets about three quarters of its business from outside the UK, also noted growth across its other regions, pushing quarterly group net fees up 10 percent, ahead of consensus of a 8.5 percent rise.
Whilst Hays’ quarterly performance lagged Robert Walters which has broken ahead of the pack due to growth in its outsourcing business, it was broadly in line with the 8.8 percent growth reported by PageGroup on Wednesday. PageGroup noted a sharper decline in its British business from the previous quarter.
“We believe, investors are likely to focus on the marginal growth in UK, which will come as a relief for the market, following yesterday’s weaker than expected UK figures from PageGroup,” Panmure Gordon analyst Adrian Kearsey wrote.
The brokerage has a “hold” rating and a target price of 195 pence on Hays’ stock. The group’s shares were up 0.95 percent at 191.8 pence at 0930 GMT.
Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Greg Mahlich/Keith Weir