LONDON: Job opportunities in London's financial sector plummeted nearly 40% last year, recruiter Morgan McKinley said on Monday, as market turbulence and high inflation led employers to tighten their belts on costs.

Available jobs in finance decreased by 38% in 2023 compared to the prior year, according to the firm's London Employment Monitor, while the number of job seekers also declined 16%.

There was a 42% decrease in jobs available in the fourth quarter of 2023 specifically versus the prior year - the largest such drop since the 2008 global financial crisis, Morgan McKinley said.

While banks in particular enjoyed robust profits last year, margin pressure from high inflation, a dealmaking slump and deepening geopolitical turmoil dimmed the outlook.

Several major employers made deep cuts, further souring the jobs market. Barclays has slashed thousands of jobs, while Swiss rival UBS is wielding the axe, including in London, after integrating ailing rival Credit Suisse.

"After a year of strong pay growth and over-hiring driven by a tight labour market, signs of a cooling market emerged as we approached the end of a challenging year," said Hakan Enver, managing director of Morgan McKinley UK.

"We saw a decrease in job seekers, candidate supply and the number of jobs available. Employer confidence receded amid the sustained economic slowdown and conflict in the Middle East, prompting spending and hiring to be reined in."

However, Enver noted that the number of jobs available last year was broadly on a par with 2019, prior to a significant post-pandemic hiring boom.

(Reporting by Iain Withers; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)