Shortage of London lawyers helps income soar at recruiter Robert Walters

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Recruiter Robert Walters hailed a record December today and said profits were ahead of forecast as the lack of qualified job candidates around the world is a boom for headhunters.

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Robert Walters said the last few months of 2021 saw a 39% increase in gross profit on a constant currency basis, reaching £95.1 million. Growth was strongest in Asia, where earnings grew 48%, followed by Europe.

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Profits in the UK rose 7%, but CFO Alan Bunnatine said was “somewhat under representative” as several city firms postponed January dates, meaning fees were delayed.

“We are seeing demand,” Bunnatine told The Standard. “There were 600 open vacancies in one of the audit firms in the summer. Six weeks later that was 900 open vacancies.

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Companies are looking for tech professionals in the capital, but the fiercest battle for talent is in the legal sector.

“London legal was up 89.7%,” Bunnatine said. “There just clearly isn’t enough legal capacity.

“It takes three years to train a lawyer, the amount of hiring was potentially reduced during COVID and in fact we probably had a few people during the ‘great resignations’ who decided they wanted to make career progress. going to change.”

The staff hunt has sparked a well-publicized bidding war for junior talent in the legal sector, with most firms now offering newly qualified lawyers salaries of over £100,000.

Bannatyne said salaries were rising around the world, with employers now offering 15% to 20% more than current salaries to attract candidates.

“We’re seeing wage inflation in a way that I haven’t seen in my 20 years in Robert Walters, around the world in general,” he said. “We are finding it difficult to catch good people in all disciplines in all fields.

“I have line of sight, first assign someone who doubled their salary in cyber. Quite a small role, but they went from £32,000 to £65,000.”

Bannatyne said increasing salaries were “the icing on the top of the cake” for recruiters because they typically charge a percentage fee.

“It’s a great time to be a recruiter,” he said.

CEO and Founder Robert Walters said: “We are seeing a shortage of candidates across all locations and disciplines, a fierce competition for talent and wage inflation that together create huge opportunities in the recruitment market.

“After a strong quarter, including December’s record, business is now comfortably ahead of current profit expectations.”

Shares rose 3.3p, or 1.6%, to 823.32p.

Rival Hayes jumped 7.3p, or 5%, to 155.5p, which was helped more by a broker upgrade from Credit Suisse.

Bannatyne said he expects 2022 to continue as good times for employers.

“A lot of things in recruitment are driven by a candidate’s confidence and in fact I think that confidence has gained momentum,” he said.

“If the world now believes that we are out of the worst of COVID, it is positive. And with salary inflation – if friends are talking about, ‘Oh, I just got a 20% salary increase’, this is likely to increase the confidence of candidates and the level of people willing to quit .


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