The banking and financial services market in the UAE and broader GCC will be happy to move on from 2016, but what can we expect to see next? When we looked at our own banking clients and the wider market at the beginning of 2016, we expected a very similar year in terms of performance and hiring to 2015, but with lower consumer confidence (fuelled by continued geopolitical risk and poorer trading conditions), along with the continued slump in oil prices. These factors, coupled with rumours of major activity have severely hampered any growth planned in the financial services sector. There have been hiring freezes and reductions in headcount, particularly with local banks, however, the international banks have also been significantly affected. Unfortunately, 2017 looks to be another difficult year for the banking sector in the UAE, with recruitment levels projected to be at their lowest in the past five years. We expect a significant amount of potential mergers to take place over the next twelve months, which could reduce the number of jobs in the market by as much of 5,000 over the next two years.
There has been a reduction in hiring across all of the banking markets and this looks set to remain in place until at least the middle of the year, equating to lower salaries, with fewer increases and many banks not paying out bonuses for 2016. There is still interest in international candidates coming to the UAE, but the large pool of available banking professionals already in the market has lessened the need for imported talent. There are still some highlights, but these will require investment and it remains to be seen whether banks have the appetite to spend in these areas. Jobs in cyber, compliance and digital are all required in order for the UAE to maintain its reputation as the centre of banking in the region.
SALARY & COMPENSATION TRENDS
Data suggests that the 2017 outlook for the banking and financial services jobs market remains very uncertain. If the larger planned mergers take place then we are likely to see some consolidation in staff numbers, which will potentially result in a greater supply of jobs seekers than actual jobs. With this in mind, we are predicting a reduction in salaries of between 5-7%, however the reduction may be less and we will have to see how events unfold.
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