Dubai Emerges as a Leading Global Hub for Talent Attraction as DIFC Leads the Way with Record Job Creation

Published: 14/12/2023

• A new report launched by DIFC in collaboration with the London Stock Exchange Group, reinforces Dubai's role as a leading global hub for talent
• Report considers why Dubai and DIFC are the region’s preferred choice for the financial sector
• Priorities point towards work-life balance, well-being, and a range of other non-financial benefits
• Job purpose and alignment with personal values rank high on employee expectations
• 65 per cent of employees would be willing to work from home all the time
• 42 per cent of workers intend to ask for a pay rise over the next 12 months

 

"As the leading financial services ecosystem in the MEASA region, DIFC is home to more than 39,000 individuals with over 160 nationalities. In 2022, we created more new jobs than in any year since DIFC’s inception. Our commitment to nurturing talent is evident through initiatives like the DIFC Academy, which offers world-class education and the DIFC Innovation Hub, which provides comprehensive training programmes by fostering collaboration between start-ups and financial institutions. DIFC’s ecosystem is built upon innovation, development, diversity, and the provision of an enabling environment for global talent, and we are delighted that the Centre continues to attract ever greater numbers of professionals from around the world.”
– Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Authority

Dubai, UAE: 14 December 2023: A report titled ‘The Future of Financial Services Talent’ (‘The Report’) issued today by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region, in collaboration with London Stock Exchange Group, one of the world's largest providers of financial markets data, reaffirms Dubai’s emergence as a leading global hub for talent attraction. 

‘The Future of Financial Services Talent’ is the third in a series of reports covering recent trends emerging in Dubai’s financial industry. It provides an overview of the financial services talent landscape and insights into what employees now expect from their employers. The findings reveal a paradigm shift in employee priorities, pointing towards a significant focus on work-life balance, well-being, and a range of other non-financial benefits. 

Furthermore, talent are increasingly searching for purpose, values, and fulfilment in their day-to-day working lives. The findings in the report provide employers with a wealth of data, intelligence and guidelines that have the potential to reshape management styles in the industry. 

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Authority, said: "As the leading financial services ecosystem in the MEASA region, DIFC is home to more than 39,000 individuals with over 160 nationalities. In 2022, we created more new jobs than in any year since DIFC’s inception. Our commitment to nurturing talent is evident through initiatives like the DIFC Academy, which offers world-class education and the DIFC Innovation Hub, which provides comprehensive training programmes by fostering collaboration between start-ups and financial institutions. DIFC’s ecosystem is built upon innovation, development, diversity, and the provision of an enabling environment for global talent, and we are delighted that the Centre continues to attract ever-greater numbers of professionals from around the world.”

Drilling down into the post-pandemic needs of a fast-changing financial services workforce, the new report analyses data from multiple reputable global bodies, including the World Economic Forum, which shows that 80 per cent of companies anticipate implementing learning and on-the-job training over the next 12 months. It also reports a growing desire amongst employees to 
challenge themselves, with 77 per cent of employees ready to learn new skills or completely retrain. 

‘The Great Resignation’
A key finding is that during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, larger-than-usual numbers of employees voluntarily left their jobs for reasons other than salaries and benefits. The report shows that 4.5 million workers in the United States quit their jobs for reasons other than retirement in March 2022. This is an increase of 152,000 from the month before, according to data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

According to research by the Pew Research Centre in February 2022, the main reasons for leaving their jobs were low pay (63 per cent), no opportunities for advancement (63 per cent) and feeling disrespected at work (57 per cent). 

Purpose, values, and fulfilment
The report also suggests that employees who find purpose in their work tend to be more productive and more likely to stay at the company. Moreover, if their sense of purpose is aligned with the organisation's purpose, the benefits extend to deeper employee engagement, greater loyalty, and a higher likelihood that they will recommend their employer to other talent. 

The report references a US-based survey by McKinsey & Company, which states that 63 per cent of people surveyed want their employer to provide more opportunities for purpose in their day-to-day work. This provides employers with exciting opportunities to encourage employees at all levels to develop and live their purpose at work. 

Remote working, here to stay
Analysis from McKinsey in the report shows that remote working is here to stay. While 58 per cent of employed respondents said they can work from home part-time, 65 per cent would be prepared to do so all the time. However, the report advises that companies need to experiment and adapt – which includes addressing the factors that drive retention risk, such as authenticity, meaningful work, and pay transparency. 

All of these become harder when employees are not in the same location every day. Firms also need to invest in new technologies to support remote workers and put the right governance in place over pay, promotions, and other rewards to avoid ‘proximity bias’. 

Five imperatives to improve the employer proposition
The DIFC report provides five clear business practices that, if employed, have the potential to increase the availability and diversity of talent that could be available to financial services companies. They include:

- Improving talent progression and promotion processes
- Employee empowerment through upskilling
- Purpose and job fulfilment
- More attractive compensation and benefits
- Flexible working models

The report indicates that management at financial institutions will have to consider the survey findings if they are to leverage changing employee expectations and attract the talent they need. Employers who are receptive to remote and hybrid working arrangements are more likely to attract the desired talent. They could also reconsider and adapt existing management styles so as to retain their most valued employees.