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Financial services sector is the most optimistic about benefits and rewards strategies for the future

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The financial services sector is more positive about the coming year compared with respondents across all other sectors.

According to Thomsons Online Benefits’ Employee Rewards Watch: Financial Services 2010, nearly seven out of 10 financial services respondents report they are more optimistic about their business than last year (66%).  And almost half anticipate a pay rise of either 2% (23%) or 3% (23%) in the coming year.

More financial services respondents are able to report how much they are spending on employee benefits (51%) than all respondents (30%), two in 10 (21%) are still unable to measure the effectiveness of their strategy – twice that of the total population (10%).

Looking into 2010, financial services organisations will be focusing on employee engagement (49%) and reviewing their benefits/reward strategy (43%).

But opinion is divided as to whether these new restrictions on reward strategies will impact the UK’s ability to attract and retain top talent in this sector, with 38% claiming it will not make any difference and 34% claiming it will.

Michael Whitfield, CEO of Thomsons Online Benefits, said: "Without doubt the recent economic turmoil has seen reward strategies put under the microscope like never before. The media has fuelled a vitriolic debate suggesting that the entire reason for the crash can be laid firmly at the door of the fat cats and their reward packages in the financial services sector.

"With the public and the politicians seemingly united in their focus here, the baying for blood could not be louder. We have already seen bankers hit with a windfall bonus tax, and the Financial Services Authority introducing a new code of practice on remuneration – the latter will undoubtedly have some impact on reward strategies.

"Despite these levies, and the recent profit tax announced in June’s Emergency Budget, it is good to see that in adversity HR teams are swimming against the tide and looking to try and re-engage a largely disenchanted financial services population."