Travel costs lead young staff to take flight from GFSC

YOUNG members of staff leaving the Guernsey Financial Services Commission to return to the UK have blamed the cost of air travel as a disincentive for them to stay in Guernsey.

GFSC director-general William Mason.
GFSC director-general William Mason.

The commission experienced high turnover of staff in 2021 – although it admitted such levels had been seen before – and decided to find out why.

A major factor was competition for talent.

‘We have seen some staff poached with salary offers with which we cannot afford to compete and some staff relocating to the UK in the wake of Covid to be within easier reach of their family and friends,’ said director-general William Mason, writing in the commission’s annual report.

‘The cost of travel to the UK is also raised by junior staff in exit interviews as a reason for leaving as too much of their salary is consumed by travel to see their families.’

The commission has recruited heavily in the UK and often gives graduates their first entry into financial services when they have found it challenging to get a start in London. But many staff move back to the UK quite quickly.

It has even rented two flats to help to house new arrivals.

‘This is not something we particularly wished to do, but we expect to have to continue to provide this sort of support for our junior staff for so long as the current demand for modest rental flats remains at an elevated level,’ Mr Mason said.

‘I am sure some will say that we should react by recruiting fewer people from the UK and rely more on local residents. We are very positive about recruiting locally and always try to do so, but the reality is that the skills we require are in short supply within the Bailiwick and we cannot afford to pay the salaries it would take to recruit enough staff solely from within the Bailiwick.’

The commission’s response to losing staff was to give a ‘reasonable’ pay rise to all officers for the first time in eight years, and Mr Mason said he expected the commission would have to continue to raise salaries in line with inflation, given the island’s buoyant job market.

A staff survey also highlighted a couple of areas where terms and conditions are ‘perhaps tougher than industry norms’. The commission is considering is response to this feedback, ‘recognising the high toll that losing good staff too quickly has on organisational effectiveness and efficiency’.

The commission employs 121 staff, 118 on permanent contracts and three on a fixed-term basis. At the end of 2021 it had eight full-time equivalent vacancies.

It spent £7.6m. on salaries last year – slightly less than in 2020 – and total staff costs were just less than £10m.

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