Turnover in professional services firms is rising at the fastest quarter-on-quarter pace for eight years, according to a respected quarterly survey.

Firms in the legal, accountancy and marketing sectors also reported business levels to be ‘above normal’ for the first time since November 2007, according to the Confederation of British Industry’s May Service Sector Survey. 

Optimism about business conditions rose at the fastest pace since the survey started in November 1998, with 56% of businesses saying they were more optimistic than three months ago and only 2% feeling less optimistic. 

The survey of 151 firms also revealed that companies continued to take on more staff and increase spending on training in the three months to May.

Katja Hall (pictured), CBI deputy director-general, said firms are ‘more upbeat’ than they have been for a long time. ‘The recovery continues to strengthen with both consumer and business-facing firms taking on more staff and investing in training and IT.’

However, she said a number of firms report problems finding the right staff. ‘This survey identifies a skills gap as a growing constraint on business expansion in the sector over the year ahead,’ she said.