Recruitment in the financial sector: The 2023 labour market from a headhunter’s perspective

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Anita Blinkenborg

Partner & Practice Lead, Financial Services, Denmark


+45 29 86 86 66

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Current and generic issues affect the financial sector, and attracting the right candidates is a particularly topical challenge. According to Anita Blinkenborg, Partner & Practice Lead in Financial Services, the financial sector in Denmark – like all other industries – is experiencing a number of challenges in attracting employees for vacant positions. Some of these challenges are:

Tough competition: The competition for top talent can make it challenging for financial organisations to attract and retain qualified employees.

High qualification requirements: Working in the financial sector often requires a high degree of specialisation and expertise, so financial institutions may place high demands on candidates’ qualifications and experience, ultimately reducing the pool of relevant candidates.

The importance of attention to working environment and culture: Many young talents not only value good career opportunities, but they also expect a good working environment and culture that prioritises work-life balance.

Changes in the sector: The financial sector is constantly changing and is strongly influenced by regulatory requirements as well as the wave of digitalisation and AI. This means changing needs and demands from financial organisations to the workforce and talent pool, which can be challenging for both parties to continuously adapt at the same speed as the market is moving.

The financial sector in 2023

As a headhunter in the financial sector, it therefore requires a good understanding of the market and the external influences and changes. However, it also requires an insight into the sector’s business areas and specialisation – and where the sector is going. It is important to offer something unique and attractive to attract the best candidates, but as a headhunter, the ability to build strong relationships across the industry is just as important in order to navigate recruitment processes from the identification and attraction phase to final hire.

“Recruitment prospects can be improved, for example, by having clear career paths for employees, so that employees in the industry have opportunities for further development and career advancement. Here, it can also be an important factor that financial organisations can offer interesting training opportunities on an ongoing basis”, says Anita Blinkenborg, who further elaborates:

“Ultimately, the recruitment outlook for the financial sector in Denmark depends on a wide range of factors, and it is important for financial players to adapt to the changing demands and expectations of employees to ensure the continued attraction and retention of the necessary talent”.

In 2021, the Danish sector’s green financing reached 548 million DKK, while we are also seeing more green financing and investment products. There is no doubt that sustainability has made its way into the financial sector – and we have probably only seen the tip of the iceberg.

The green agenda has attraction value for investors, clients and candidates

Trends in the financial sector

As mentioned above, talent shortages and tough competition for the best candidates can be challenges that a headhunter may face in the financial sector. It is therefore important to be able to identify talent across different branches of the sector, across borders, but also in some cases in completely different industries. This provides a larger pool of potential candidates in the process of finding the best candidates for open positions with the exact skills, competencies and experience required.

However, the financial sector is characterised by several trends, which are elaborated below.

Candidates making demands

The opportunities Compass presents to candidates must speak to their career. Hence, there is a strong focus on individual career prospects and potential new challenges. Perhaps this is due to the job market being so heated that candidates largely do not have to look for a job themselves – they can just wait to be contacted by a headhunter. This increases the demands on the new workplace, confirming the importance of the right work culture, soft values and a good work-life balance.

Work-life balance

The right work culture and a good work-life balance also speak to a growing need for a flexible working life, with the possibility of working from home and from different locations. The financial sector is in many ways an inclusive sector, which in several areas has implemented clear rules and approaches in the wake of Covid-19.

As a headhunter, we are faced with clients demanding that we can identify and attract candidates that they cannot do themselves through a job advert. From the candidates’ side, on the other hand, we are met with demands for flexibility, short travelling time and career opportunities, which it is implicitly important for the industry to largely adapt to.

Gender diversity

The financial sector also requires diversity. Especially when recruiting for management positions, headhunters can set requirements for the number of women in the field of candidates. In the past, the tendency may have been that the spirit of the times and old patterns have contributed to women becoming (top) leaders to a lesser degree. This trend seems to have changed, as recent studies indicate that more new leaders in the financial sector are women. As part of this trend, we as headhunters need to focus even more on diversity in the field of candidates, which requires our ability to identify the potential in the market. The organisation may have had a job advertised and only received a limited number of applicants, which does not necessarily support the desired diversity in the field of candidates, which is why we as a headhunter get involved to increase and ensure diversity.

Constant change is a given

As mentioned, the financial sector is experiencing different kinds of challenges and trends, which also include the ever-increasing ESG and regulatory initiatives. In addition, there is also the wave of implementation and utilisation of artificial intelligence, which can not only support automations and process improvements, but can also help provide opportunities in predictive analytics that can, for example, detect financial crime.

The fact that the financial sector is also exposed to cyber threats means that there is an ongoing focus on ensuring the necessary protection against cybercrime threats. To counter and manage all these factors, highly qualified employees are needed, as complexity increases and the work in general requires more specialised knowledge and skills from employees. This challenges the whole perspective of Talent Attraction and thus the recruitment process.

“Despite many changes and a heated job market, Compass finds that we are still able to attract candidates. We have a good network in the sector, we move in and across the industry every day, and we also have dialogue across the sector – so we keep up our knowledge and understanding for the sector as well as our network”, says Anita Blinkenborg and follows up:

“Ultimately, the recruitment outlook for the financial sector in Denmark depends on a wide range of factors to which it is important for financial organisations to adapt – while the changing demands and expectations of employees must also be managed to ensure the continued attraction and retention of the necessary talent”.

In recent years, the labour market has changed significantly for both employers and employees. This makes it necessary to change the way in which skilled employees are recruited and retained in several industries. Fresh eyes and a new strategy is needed.


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