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• Global economic uncertainty and takeovers are the most debated subjects in the boardroom.

17 September 2007 – Stiffer regulation, increasing competition and a growing skills shortage are the top challenges facing managers in the UK financial services sector, according to the 2007 annual ‘Financial Services Market Index’ report from Interim provider, Russam GMS.

47% of the 200 specialist Interim Managers surveyed stated that dealing with increased regulation and compliance is the top challenge facing financial service businesses today, a figure that has risen by 24%, compared with Russam GMS’ 2006 report.

For 31% of the respondents, tough competition is felt to be the biggest challenge. 14% pinpointed to an industry skills shortage, 6% complained about tight budgets and the remaining 2% felt that economic uncertainty is the main challenge facing companies in the financial arena.

In response to these challenges, 33% of the Interims are worried by regulatory pressures, while 28% are concerned about dealing with the competition, in addition, as many as 33% felt that building customer loyalty in these changing times is a major struggle.

Meanwhile in the boardroom, the most debated subject is the unpredictable nature of the economy according to 40% of Interim Managers, summed up by one respondent as ‘the looming domestic and US debt crisis.’ The next most talked about subject is the impact of increased M&A activity. Other issues under discussion amongst board members include globalisation, the industry’s poor reputation and the threats of climate change and terrorism.

Interims are however, bullish about their job prospects in 2007 - perhaps this is because they are being more regularly called upon to help companies deal with some of these challenges. 67% feel more confident than last year there will be an increase in assignments, while just 26% feel less confident compared to 2006.

57% believe they have the necessary skills in place to help organisations address these key issues, whilst 43% are less certain they have the appropriate skills and knowledge to meet some of the challenges ahead.

Dave Butler, Head of the Financial Services practice at Russam GMS states, “The UK financial services sector is in a state of flux, facing significant economic uncertainty stemming from a lack of confidence in US and UK market stability. Increasing regulation continues to be a major bone of contention for many companies, overshadowing even the enormous challenges posed by external factors such as globalisation, terrorism and climate change.”

“There is a huge opportunity and requirement for Interim Managers in this turbulent market. This is supported by Russam GMS’ snap shot survey published this month, which showed that Interims with financial experience were more in demand. Success in uncertain times requires positive action and this is where Interim Managers excel. They have the skills and more importantly, the scars and the experience to deliver change under external pressure.”

“However, Interims are not complacent. Whilst the majority feel they have the skills to deal with the challenges of the coming year, a significant percentage feel they need to review their own skill sets to ensure their future success. We are certain that as experienced and self-directed managers they will renew their skills in order to remain competitive and Russam GMS will continue to support them whilst they further their careers,” he concluded.

What are the top challenges facing UK financial services companies?

• 47% - Regulation and Compliance
• 31% - Tough Competition
• 14% - Skills Shortages/recruitment challenges
• 6% - Tight budgets and high costs
• 2% - State of the economy

What are the hot topics being debated in the boardroom?

• 40% - Bad debt/economic uncertainty
• 23% - Impact of M&A activity
• 17% - Globalisation
• 15% - Climate change
• 5% - Terrorism

Are you more or less confident about Interim Management opportunities in the financial sector in 2007, compared to 2006?

• 67% - more confident
• 26% - less confident
• 7% - same as last year

What are your major concerns about the sector?

• 33% - Regulatory pressures
• 33% - Building customer loyalty
• 20% - Increased competition
• 8% - Getting ahead of competition
• 6% - Budget constraints

Do they feel you have the skills in place to ensure your success in 2007?

• 57% - Yes
• 43% - No

About Russam GMS
• Russam GMS is the longest established mainstream provider of interim managers in the UK with a 23 year track record.

• Russam GMS has the most comprehensive database of Interim Managers in the UK.

• Russam GMS has a dedicated financial services practice, placing high quality Interims in retail and investment banking, insurance and in private equity companies.

• Russam GMS is a Founder Member of the Interim Management Association and of the international Taplow Group.

• Russam GMS has established specialist practices relevant to CATALIST customers: Central Civil Government (CCG), Local Government & Education, Healthcare, Defence, and Charities & Non-Departmental Public Funded Bodies (NDPFBs). Each practice is managed by a Director who is a subject-matter expert

• Russam GMS is ISO 9001:2000 registered and hold Investors in People status – the whole team is committed to process improvement and striving for excellence.

For more information, please contact:

Kathryn Hughes
PR Consultant
Russam GMS Ltd.
Tel: 020 32491072/07801 823 839

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