Behind the Desk: Consumer Finance in London

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Welcome to “Behind the Desk”, our series that delves into our consultants’ experience and on-ground expertise, helping businesses and professionals navigate the recruitment market.

Today, we’re featuring Victoria Spencer, a seasoned recruiter who began her career in 2018 and is now a Manager for JSS Finance. Discover how Victoria traverses finance recruitment, leveraging her knowledge to create a focused approach that benefits clients and candidates. 

Meet Victoria: Leading Consumer-Focused Financed Recruitment Specialist

I am a manager for our accounting and finance team, handling roles from newly qualified accountants to CFOs for London’s consumer-based hospitality and retail businesses. Before this, I spent over five years at an FTSE 250 listed agency, focusing on newly qualified recruitment within consumer businesses.

What type of businesses and roles do you usually support?

 At JSS Finance, I work with an array of retail, leisure, and hospitality businesses. Whether it’s start-ups or FTSE-listed companies, I support ventures like hotels, restaurants, art galleries, and travel firms. I help professionals across the board, from financial accountants and analysts to finance directors, heads of finance, and CFOs, with everything from technical reporting to dynamic commercial roles.

Navigating Consumer Finance in London

How has the consumer-based finance sector evolved over the last year in London?

The pandemic caused a major shift in retail and hospitality nationwide. However, hospitality has bounced back this year, especially for casual dining and fast-food businesses, as companies return to the office. Although, due to ongoing economic uncertainty, hiring has slowed down in the retail sector. Coupled with some reductions, it still means great finance talent is available across the market. Following the pandemic, technology-based businesses such as e-commerce, food delivery apps, and online booking platforms continue to perform well.

Are there any emerging trends you think businesses and candidates should know about? 

Many accountants I speak with are seeking strategic or commercial roles where they can add tangible value to the business. It’s increasingly crucial for companies to offer well-rounded finance positions that extend beyond just the numbers.

Candidates are also increasingly prioritising corporate responsibility. For example, many are declining opportunities from fast-food or fast-fashion businesses unless these companies have a strong positive mission statement. While companies don’t need to be dedicated renewables suppliers, they should be focused on demonstrating meaningful contributions to social responsibility.

Flexible hybrid working remains a major focus. Candidates value the option to choose where they work best, with many declining roles requiring full-time office presence without clear reasons. Despite this, newly qualified candidates often prefer office environments for cultural immersion, while directors prefer the flexibility home brings. Conversely, remote-only roles have sharply decreased compared to previous years.

Talent Strategies in Finance Recruitment

How do you tailor your approach to find the best match for everyone?

I prioritise face-to-face meetings to truly understand my clients, their businesses, and my candidates. By asking targeted questions, I get to know the hiring manager’s needs beyond just skills, focusing on personality fit and the finer details that set candidates apart. With the network I’ve built over six years, I go beyond matching a CV to a job spec by understanding each candidate’s motivations and needs. I then bring each CV to life for the client, discussing each person in detail and adding value. Combined with our team’s collective expertise and agile approach, we tailor solutions to meet our client’s unique needs.

How do you stay updated on market trends?

I usually stay informed by reading industry publications like The Caterer for market insights. However, my primary knowledge comes from on-the-ground discussions with CFOs and finance directors, where I learn first-hand about their challenges and feedback from candidates.

Additionally, I initiated an Employee Resource Group (ERG) at JSS, where we meet biweekly across divisions to share insights into various markets and niches. This helps us stay well-informed and better equipped to advise both businesses and candidates.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Finance in London

What is the outlook for consumer Finance in London over the next six months?

Looking ahead to the second half of 2024, the outlook appears promising. Hospitality has notably rebounded post-pandemic, introducing new brands that add diversity to the market. As economic uncertainty stabilises, we anticipate a gradual recovery in the retail sector. Moreover, as businesses expand, there’s increasing demand at the recently qualified level, driven by the organic growth of entry-level positions within companies.

What advice would you offer businesses and finance professionals for the next year?

 For candidates looking to move, I would suggest emphasising clear progression and project involvement on your CV is important. Highlighting your strategic and commercial impact can make a difference, especially for newly qualified professionals. Also, demonstrating proactive experience, even in non-finance roles early in your career, adds value.

Clients should be aware of current talent shortages and ensure a thorough understanding of the role to quickly recognise and secure top talent.  This, coupled with offering competitive initial offers aligned with market rates, helps prevent awkward negotiations and boosts employee retention down the line.

Additionally, candidates highly value competitive benefits packages, such as lunch allowances and appealing annual leave plans, as travel flexibility has become increasingly important post-pandemic.


For deeper insights into the London finance industry and to explore how we can support your recruitment or career growth aspirations, connect with Victoria on LinkedIn or reach out via email at