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European Edition
13th October 2021
Job vacancies hit record high
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that job vacancies hit a record high of almost 1.2m in September. The data also reveals a 207,000 increase in the number of people on payrolls, with the total hitting a record 29.2m. This is 120,000 above pre-pandemic levels and up 207,000 on the previous month. The report shows that vacancies grew across most sectors in the three months to September. While unemployment continued to fall, hitting 4.5% in September on the back of a 0.4% decline, the rate is likely to increase due to the furlough scheme winding up at the end of last month. The analysis found that average weekly earnings in the June-August period were 7.2% higher than in the equivalent three months of 2020, down from the previous reading of 8.3%. Excluding bonuses, earnings rose by 6.0%. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The number of expected redundancies remained very low in September, there are more employees on payrolls than ever before and the unemployment rate has fallen for eight months in a row." Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “The jobs market has continued to recover from the effects of the coronavirus, with the number of employees on payroll in September now well exceeding pre-pandemic levels." Reflecting on the ONS data, Yael Selfin, chief UK economist at KPMG, said the end of the furlough scheme “could briefly raise the headline unemployment rate, which could average 4.9% for 2021 as a whole, representing a smaller impact than originally expected.”
Hohn writes to regulators in climate campaign against central banks
Hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn has called on regulators to “immediately reduce” climate-related risk in the financial system, lobbying financial bodies via his Children’s Investment Fund. As part of a campaign which aims to reduce the banking industry’s financing of fossil fuel producers, Mr Hohn wrote to the Bank of England (BoE), the European Central Bank, the European Banking Authority and the US Financial Stability Oversight Council to propose a series of “immediate steps”. In a letter to BoE governor Andrew Bailey, he said: “Not only are UK banks continuing to channel financing to fossil fuels, they are failing to provide basic levels of transparency about the extent of the emissions they are financing.” He suggested banks should be required to share more detail of the “absolute carbon emissions” in the climate disclosures of their loan books. He also called for stricter capital requirements for lending to fossil fuel projects.
Regulator to test firms' remote working arrangements
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is to evaluate firms considering remote or hybrid working on a case-by-case basis, saying firms will be required to prove that the remote working does not - or is unlikely to - cause detriment to consumers, damage the integrity of the market, increase the risk of financial crime and reduce competition. The watchdog said firms should be able to prove that a hybrid working model will not prevent the FCA receiving information about a company, nor will it reduce the accuracy of the Financial Services Register. Firms must also prove there is appropriate governance and oversight by senior managers under the Senior Managers regime. The FCA notes that under Principle 11 of the its Principles for Businesses, any material changes to how a firm intends to operate may require the company to notify it first.
SEC looking into how banks keep tabs on employees' communications
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reportedly opened a broad inquiry into how Wall Street banks are keeping track of employees' digital communications, with officials contacting banks to check whether they have been adequately documenting employees' work-related communications, such as text messages and emails, with a focus on their personal devices. The SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority require broker-dealers to keep records of all business-related communications.
Activist investor calls for Symonds to quit GSK
Activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners has called for the resignation of GlaxoSmithKline’s Sir Jonathan Symonds, writing to the chairman to express disappointment with his explanations for GSK’s underperformance. Marco Taricco and Giuseppe Bivona, partners at Bluebell, said the company needs a “more radical change agenda”, saying this includes “the appointment not only of a new CEO but also of a new chairman.” The letter said Sir Jonathan appeared not to have a “precise understanding of the causes of the prolonged and severe underperformance of GSK share price”, with the Bluebell partners adding that they were “puzzled” by the chair’s “inexplicable support of the existing leadership”.
Private equity salaries rise to £152k
The salary for junior staff at private equity companies has risen to £152,000, a jump of 52% compared to two years ago. Data from headhunters firm Heidrick & Struggles show that in 2019, private equity professionals across Europe with only two years in the industry were paid, on average, just under £100,000 in salary and bonus. For those with two to four years of experience, a salary of around £181,000 has become the sector’s average, a jump of 42% over the past two years. Senior private equity professionals are taking home more than £512,000, an increase of 21%. The leap in salaries illustrates the intensifying war on talent in the financial services space, City AM reports.
Pubs forced to cut menus amid driver shortage
The i reports that pubs are being forced to reduce their food menus as the HGV driver crisis has caused shortages of beer, wine and cheese. Industry experts have also warned that the supply chain issues could also last beyond the Christmas period and well into next year. The British Beer and Pub Association said the issue was impacting the "entirety" of the sector, while a poll by the Society of Independent Brewers found that two-thirds of members were impacted by the lack of drivers. Meanwhile, hospitality bosses have warned that a return of pre-pandemic VAT levels will push pubs and restaurants to breaking point, as the sector struggles with soaring costs and labour shortages.
easyJet sees £1bn losses
Airline easyJet has seen its second consecutive year of posting billion-plus losses, saying it expects to announce annual losses of up to £1.17bn. The figure announced in a trading statement after the September 30 close of its financial year comes after the £1.2bn loss it made in 2019/20. CEO Johan Lundgren said the airline would fly 70% of its normal capacity in the October-December trading quarter, commenting: “We have reduced our losses quarter by quarter and will remain disciplined on capacity.” Mr Lundgren said that easyJet's "recovery is under way".
City firms join forces for legal tech training
Several City firms have joined forces to train graduates on automation and technology for legal operations. Dentons, CMS UK, Norton Rose Fulbright, Herbert Smith Freehills, Slaughter and May, and Linklaters have together created a legal operations graduate scheme, involving an intensive four-week course and regular workshops. The programme is designed to accelerate a pipeline of junior talent trained in legal operations. The University of Law has helped to design the programme, which will focus on innovation, automation, legal tech, process design, and legal project management. The scheme is open to law and non-law graduates.

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