COVID-19 prompts half of UK Financial Services workers to consider career change

COVID-19 prompts half of UK Financial Services

COVID-19 has prompted a bout of soul searching among Financial Services workers, with almost half (44%) considering a career change as a result of the pandemic.

  • 44% of Financial Services workers surveyed are considering a career change in light of pandemic
  • 13% won’t return to the sector, blaming long hours and commutes
  • Financial Services Skills Commission shines a light on skills gaps and the need for increased investment in training

COVID-19 has prompted a bout of soul searching among Financial Services workers, with almost half (44%) considering a career change as a result of the pandemic. Despite the prospect of a challenging job market, a third of workers (31%) said they will be looking for new roles within the year, according to new research by KPMG and the Financial Services Skills Commission.

The desire for a career change seems to be a trend across the UK’s workforce, with 46% of workers across all industries considering new roles as a result of the pandemic.

Among those Financial Services workers looking for a career change, 13% said they would not choose the sector again for their next career move – rising to 16% of 18-30 year olds. Those who said they wouldn’t work in the sector again cited long hours (15%), long commutes (13%) and heavy regulation (9%) as key factors driving their decision.

Karim Haji, Head of Financial Services, KPMG UK, said:

“As we spend more time at home away from our colleagues and offices, it makes sense that many will be questioning their current roles and choices - and what the future might hold. With so many considering a career change, Financial Services must take this time to promote itself positively and wipe the slate clean when it comes to the associations people make with it, if it is to be genuinely competitive for talent.

“Positively, some of the work on this is already underway. The pandemic has spurred many Financial Services firms to make positive changes and ditch some of their more conservative employee policies in line with other sectors. This will go far in tackling misperceptions of the industry and help it attract more diverse employees, as well as retain current talent.”

The survey showed the sector has retained its reputation for strong remuneration and career progression. Competitive salaries (54%) and good employee benefits, such as insurance and private healthcare (35%), were listed by Financial Services employees as top drivers towards the sector. Among under 30s, a third (31%) said that progression opportunities were a key attribute  attracting them to the sector.

However, there is an opportunity for employers in Financial Services to invest further in their employees’ skills. Just 15% of those working in the industry listed good training as a motivator to remain, indicating that Financial Services firms aren’t doing enough to upskill their staff as digitisation of the sector gains pace.

Claire Tunley, CEO of the Financial Services Skills Commission, said:  

“Financial Services has a skilled and committed workforce who have responded rapidly and effectively to different ways of working. Growing skills gaps still pose a threat to future competitiveness, and there is more to do to increase training and development for existing staff and improve perceptions among potential employees.

“The sector has a real opportunity to learn from the experience of the pandemic to create a strengthened employee offering, building on its existing reputation for good pay and progression. This will be key to securing talent over the coming months and years. If they want their talent to have the skills they need to deliver the best outcomes for businesses, employers will need to match new digital ways of working with increased investment in training.”


Notes to Editors

Research conducted between July 1st and July 30th 2020, by Savanta, the intelligence business that helps companies make better decisions. We surveyed 1,510 members of the UK workforce, including 632 employees working within financial services.

For more information, please contact:

Olivia Shalofsky
PR Assistant Manager, KPMG UK
(+44) 07469 441 308

Jack Neill-Hall
Head of PR, TheCityUK
(+44) 077 9393 2885


About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 21 offices across the UK with approximately 17,600 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.40 billion in the year ended 30 September 2019. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, Legal and Advisory services. It operates in 154 countries and has 200,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

About the Financial Services Skills Taskforce

The Financial Services Skills Commission is an independent, non-partisan, member-led body, representing the UK financial services sector on skills. We work directly with the sector and advocate for innovative collaboration to ensure that businesses have the talent and skills it needs for the future. The creation of the Commission was a key recommendation from the work of the HMT-led Financial Services Skills Taskforce (2018-20) launched by former Chancellor, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP. The Taskforce identified the challenges that technology, demographic change and globalisation are having on the UK financial services sector and developed five recommendations to address these challenges. Read the taskforce report here. We work with our members and a diverse network of stakeholders to address some of the major issues facing skills in financial services. Through four workstreams which reflect the challenges identified by the Taskforce, we are addressing the major skills gaps impacting the sector, and finding solutions to issues around access to talent. By collaborating with businesses, training providers, government, regulators and the education sector, we seek to create solutions together, that work for all stakeholders involved.

© 2022 KPMG LLP a UK limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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