U.K. financial firms seen hiring 4,000 in first half

Banks, insurers, asset managers are growing

U.K. financial firms may add 4,000 jobs in the first half of the year, breaking three consecutive quarters of cuts, as companies anticipate increased sales, the Confederation of British Industry said.

Banks, insurers, asset managers and other firms probably hired 2,000 people in the first three months of 2013 and may add 2,000 in the second quarter, Britain’s biggest business lobby group and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, said in a study published today.

The projected gain compares with the CBI’s prediction in January for 18,000 job reductions in the first quarter, in the industry that employs about 1 million people in the U.K. The reversal comes as some financial firms hire compliance workers to prevent further scandals such as loan insurance mis-selling and sanctions violations amid increased regulation and scrutiny. HSBC Holdings Plc, Britain’s largest bank by market value, said last month it would spend an extra $500 million a year on compliance and legal staff.

“Firms are beginning to sense the prospect of some pickup of business activity and want to make sure they’re ready to take advantage of that,” Matthew Fell, CBI director of competitive markets told reporters in London. “The picture is becoming a little clearer on what is to be done on the regulatory front, and that’s perhaps why we’re seeing some stabilization, some flattening out.”

The CBI’s survey found 32 percent more respondents said trading increased in the three months through March and 27 percent forecast higher sales in the current quarter.

The CBI and PwC surveyed 96 banks, insurers, customer-owned lenders, investment managers and securities firms from Feb. 20 to March 7.

Bloomberg News

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