Financial Services Sector: An Immigration Update

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has recently published its most recent Financial Services Survey, the results of which demonstrate the effect that Brexit is having on immigration of employees and expertise in to the UK in the financial services sector.

There are an estimated 1.1 million UK jobs in the financial services sector. Historically, the sector obtained one fifth of its workers from outside of the UK. However, issues caused largely as a result of Brexit have meant that hiring staff from abroad has become more difficult and overall, immigration into the sector has decreased. In addition, it is estimated that over 7,600 jobs have transferred from the UK to the EU, since 2016, according to research carried out by EY.

The Survey has shown, that as a result, the financial services sector has pivoted to upskilling its existing employees, instead of looking for candidates from abroad.

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI, said: “One of the bright spots from the survey was Financial Services firms’ commitment to upskilling and retraining. It’s encouraging to see so many firms put staff development at the heart of their business strategies, and that is sure to reap rewards in terms of recruitment and retention later down the line."

As well as the benefits to retention numbers for financial services firms, the CBI believes that upskilling is more financially beneficial as well, with an estimated cost saving of £49,100 per retained employee, as opposed to costs spent on recruiting or redundancies. 

The Survey results do not mean that immigration cannot still be incredibly valuable to the financial services sector. Indeed, the CBI has called for visa entries and application routes to the UK to be made easier, in the hope the immigration levels into the financial sector will recover to their pre-Brexit levels. 

With the recent news that the UK continues to be Europe’s most attractive location for international investment into financial services, there is hope that trends in UK immigration will pick up again, to mirror the continuing demand to do business in this sector. Despite the somewhat negative immigration survey results, the Government did announce in April this year that there will be a number of new business immigration routes due to be launched in 2022 which consolidate and reform existing routes with the aim of attracting talent from overseas as well as to provide opportunities for growing businesses and recent graduates from international universities. Routes of particular relevance to the financial services sector are the: 

Senior or Specialist Worker visa

This is the replacement for the Intra Company Transfer route and is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK, where the worker is a senior manager or specialist employee and is being assigned to a UK business linked to their employer overseas.

High Potential Individual Route

This is a non-sponsored route so holders of this visa are free to work for any employer. It is for recent graduates of top global universities who want to look for work in the UK following completion of an eligible course of study. They must have studied at graduate level or above and obtained their qualification in the five years prior to the date of visa application. Those that rely on a PhD will be granted a three-year visa and for non-PhD level qualifications, it will be a two-year visa. The Home Office will release a list of eligible universities and the applicant’s university must have been on that list at the date on which they obtained their qualification. This is not a route to settlement and applicants would be expected to switch onto another route to remain in the UK long term.

For more information on the most suitable immigration routes in to the UK, please do get in contact with our specialist immigration team.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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