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[LONDON] Jobs in London's financial services sector rose 17 per cent in February compared to a year ago, buoyed by strong equity markets around the globe and improving economic sentiment, even as British banks continued to cut headcount.
After subdued hiring activity in January, 3,010 jobs were created in the City in February, compared with 2,580 jobs in the same month in 2014, according to data on Monday from financial services recruiter Astbury Marsden.
"As the oil price stabilises and concerns over a Greek exit from the Euro Zone subside at least temporarily, the markets have bounced back in recent weeks which in turn has had a positive impact on hiring at the investment banks," said Christopher Adeyeri, Associate Director at Astbury Marsden.
Britain's FTSE and the S&P 500 and Dow indexes in the US have all hit record highs in recent weeks, buoyed by economic stimulus measures unveiled by central banks and more positive economic news.
Whilst the data suggests London's banks and financial sector are returning to growth after slashing thousands of jobs in the face of a global financial crisis and a series of industry scandals, British banks are still feeling the pain.
RBS announced a major downsizing of its investment bank on Tuesday, that could result in up to 14,000 of 18,000 jobs being cut, the Financial Times reported.
Barclays, meanwhile, is in the process of slashing 7,000 jobs over a three year period, threatening more cuts in its underperforming investment bank after announcing a 750 million pounds (US$1.14 billion) charge for past misdemeanours by traders allegedly manipulating foreign exchange markets.
Even so, hiring in the City is expected to pick up in the coming months as investment banks finalise plans for headcount for the year and employees look for new opportunities.
"City staff who were planning to move jobs but were waiting to hear about their 2014 bonus will undoubtedly look at new opportunities in the Spring, especially if they don't get the reward they think they deserve," said Mr Adeyeri.
Investment banking bonuses were expected to be relatively flat or slightly higher across the industry, with those bankers working on corporate takeovers and share issues expecting good news as their market rebounds, whilst bond and currency traders faced lower payouts especially in areas where they have been fined heavily for misconduct.