Job openings in London’s finance industry grew 70% in the three months through March compared to the previous quarter as the U.K. began to ease out of its third national lockdown.

The increase in part reflects a low baseline after a year of uncertainty over a trade deal with the European Union and the coronavirus pandemic that kept many office workers at home.

People changing jobs could expect an average 18% boost to their salary during the first quarter, the highest in more than a year, according to data from recruitment firm Morgan McKinley published Thursday.

“Banks are back in expansion mode with a strong uplift in appetite for hiring experienced professionals,” said Hakan Enver, managing director at Morgan McKinley’s U.K. business. “As the vaccine rollout continues apace and the road out of lockdown clears, we are seeing the sector recover at a faster rate than anticipated.”

Financial services companies in the U.K. are becoming increasingly optimistic, with the majority saying in March they are confident about the future. A net balance of 52% of respondents said they felt positive about the months ahead, up from 44% in December, according to the Times of London, citing a report by the Confederation of British Industry and PwC.

That increase is the fastest pace in more than seven years and about a third of businesses are forecasting higher profits in the next quarter, according to the Times.

The phased reopening of the economy “is clearly driving expectations of a strong rebound in business volumes and profits over the second quarter,” CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said.

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