UK financial services? It’s a family affair: report

April 21, 2019

By Simon Jessop

LONDON (Reuters) – Nearly half of all people working in Britain’s financial services industry have followed their parents into the sector, more than three times the national average, research from consultants KPMG showed.

The finding comes as policymakers and investors push the industry to improve diversity in senior management and make firms more inclusive in an effort to improve corporate governance as well as shareholder returns.

The research revealed that forty-one percent of financial services staff had parents in the same sector against a national average of 12 percent. In insurance, the figure was even higher, at 54 percent.

“The fact that people in financial services are more than three times more likely than the national average to have followed in their parent’s career footsteps is staggering,” said Tim Howarth, head of financial services consulting at KPMG.

KPMG spoke to more than 1,500 people for the survey, a third of whom worked in the banking, insurance or asset management industry, while the rest were employed in a range of other sectors across the country.

The lack of diversity in the industry was a “huge challenge”, said John Mann, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour party who sits on the government committee responsible for overseeing the finance industry.

“Its biggest problem, by far, has been its cultural problem,” he told Reuters. “That’s what’s led to the collapse of a number of financial institutions. The cultural problems are reinforced by not bringing in a wider array of people.”

The finance industry is one of Britain’s biggest tax payers and has some of the country’s highest-paid jobs. Of those working in the sector, 87 percent said they liked their job, the report found, pipping the 82 percent satisfaction rate seen outside the industry.

Yet 65 percent of all the people surveyed by KPMG said they would not consider a role in financial services. Of these, 41 percent said it was because the industry “sounds boring”, while 16 percent cited a lack of contacts in the sector.

“There’s clearly a gap between what the public think, and the realities of working in financial services … that has to be addressed if we are to attract the diverse mix of skills and experiences needed to navigate the changes going on in financial services and society,” Howarth said.

The biggest driver for more than a third of the 500 financial services workers surveyed was the higher pay on offer.

Just 16 percent of the 1,000 non-financial services sector workers put money as their main motivation.

“We are always told that Millennials and Generation Z are more interested in their social impact than their finances, and so our sector has to get more imaginative in the way it attracts and retains staff,” KPMG Head of Financial Services Jon Holt said.

(Additional reporting by Iain Withers. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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