European Markets – Update

As lockdown restrictions continue to ease across the region, we thought a brief market update would be useful for you as thoughts turn to provisions for returning to the office, H2 hiring plans, changes to future working practices and the July 30th Brexit deadline. 



The COVID-19 pandemic has had a brutal impact on the European economy however economic interventions led by governments and central banks, alongside falling infection rates, have allowed the process of rebound to start through late May and early June. Recruitment volumes fell dramatically from mid-March across most jurisdictions with very few governance roles coming to market beyond those listed as essential by local regulators. Most companies honoured contracts already offered to new employees and remote onboarding and work-from-home provisions were in place from day 1 of employment – we are aware of some staff who are still yet to meet their new teams face-to-face, almost 3 months into their roles.  The last three weeks have shown a marked increase in new vacancies coming to market with Frankfurt, Paris, Luxembourg and Dublin being noticeably busier. 


Returning to the office and future working practices:

Many of our conversations with both candidates and clients refer to the uncertainty of returning to the office and changes to long-term working practices. The majority of our clients in EU jurisdictions are now reopening offices to varying degrees of capacity. Many are implementing a staged return of staff between now and the end of the year, with strict protocols in place to make the office environment as safe as possible. In many of my own discussions with my network, the office environment is cited as a concern however it is the commute to work that is often the greater worry.

The essential adjustment that we all made in response to the pandemic has shown how effective remote and flexible working practices can be while also highlighting where some short-comings exist. Nearly every client I am in touch with has suggested that their policies for flexible working will significantly change. This is caveated by many that the office environment is felt to still be extremely important for many aspects of management, collaboration, internal working relationships, influencing, and security. We expect to see many more roles offering 20-40% regular flexible working. 



For many, both in work and at home, conversations relating to Brexit were put on hold as the region responded to COVID-19. The imminent 30th June deadline has brought the subject back to the forefront of the mind and many firms are still in need of finalising and resourcing for their ‘final’ post-Brexit structures. There are questions about some of the deadlines that are currently in place for changing many of the temporary regulatory, booking and passporting arrangements that are in place. Regardless of the nature of the Brexit agreements that may or may not be reached in the coming weeks, we are expecting an increase in governance vacancies across the region through H2. With this, we anticipate high demand for mid and senior level candidates with European language skills and multi-jurisdictional experience. We have also observed unexpectedly high levels of attraction in some organisations who have hired for new EU entities over the last 24months. Delays in transactional business or project work being transferred from ‘HQ’ offices often cited as a reason that senior resources are left under-utilised and candidates feeling under-stimulated or challenged. 



There is continued demand for governance staff to join FinTech and Start-up companies across the region, with peaks in The Netherlands, Switzerland, Malta, Gibraltar and Cyprus. We expect to see this continue through the rest of the year with demand likely for compliance monitoring and AML skill sets. 



Beyond firms who are building out new EU entities or structures, we are also working with many clients who are hiring for more Business As Usual positions. Replacing staff who have left and regulatory change or remediation projects are the most common reasons given however these roles can be some of the harder positions to fill. In the current recruitment climate, candidates are looking for roles that will provide growth and challenge and consider both the role in question but also their 3-5 year career plans. With this in mind, companies are having success in hiring for replacement hires with candidates more junior than the individual who vacated the role.


The European division at Barclay Simpson is able to support you in your hiring needs across Risk, Compliance, Audit, Treasury and Legal positions. From our offices in London and Frankfurt we work with clients across the EU27 and have a strong track record in our core markets of Germany, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Switzerland. 


If you would like to discuss our view of the market further or would like support in your hiring, please email and we can arrange a time for a video-conference or call.