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Max Heppleston

How to find and secure talent in 2021.

The world has changed in the last 18 months, so your talent attraction and retention strategy needs to as well. 

More than ever, as we emerge from this global pandemic into this new world, our clients have been seeking guidance, asking why they are missing out on talent, and why people are leaving. 

Here is what we think are some important pointers to remember when trying to attract and retain top marketing, sales & distribution talent in the wealth & investment management space post pandemic.  

Flexible Working,

It's here to stay. According to the CFAs future of work in Investment Management survey, 81% of investment professionals are in favour of a hybrid model with most believing it has increased their efficiency, and with the likes of Vanguard, BNP, and UBS adopting a flexible hybrid working model going forward this is no longer a fad we can ignore. 

But not all people want to work from home, so having office space where employees can come in if they want, meet colleagues, focus, socialise etc is going to be important. Letting employees work how they work best and be an individual, being truly flexible to their needs.

Blackrock, Amundi, BNY and Federated Hermes are some other places that are rolling out flexible/hybrid working schemes as well. 

I also spoke with Andrew Carrier, Investment Management CMO who added:

“There’s a philosophical chasm opening up between the European and the US banks on working practices. The Europeans, with their flexible approaches look progressive and are building trust with their teams. The US banks, who for the most part are dragging people back to the office, look parochial and out of touch. Of course there will always be reasons to come to the office but a hybrid approach is overwhelmingly want people want. It makes sense for employer and employee.”

Would you be willing to lose your top performer over a day or 2 from home? 


Employer branding,

Never before have people paid such close attention and talked so much about how you treat your staff. The Pandemic has shone a light onto how employers have acted throughout the worst, and how they plan to return to normal.

Following on from Hybrid working, Goldmans Sachs and JP Morgan have caught the attention of the public recently for their return to office policy and comments from senior leaders.

Your company's employer brand is people's first reaction to thinking of working there, and can be your best friend or worst enemy when trying to find top talent. You should be aware of how people perceive you, and this can be improved by investing in your social media presence, being authentic and transparent with your employees and potential candidates, and implementing a well paid employee referral scheme.  

Of course, all of this is futile if you aren't doing anything to actually look after and improve your current employees' lives.
Useful data can be gathered by conducting exit interviews and anonymous employee surveys, but be wary of glassdoor, the only people that go on there are disgruntled employees or have been asked to do so by HR. 

Andrew also added:  “It was Jeff Bezos who said “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” What often gets overlooked is that the most effective advocates for – or against – your brand are your own employees. They’re often ones in that room doing the talking, telling others what your company is like to work for – and they’re influencing potential clients, investors and staff alike.”


Move fast,

You will miss out on people if you do not move fast enough. It is no longer acceptable to take 3-6 months to conduct an interview process or wait to see if you can find someone that may or may not be better. 

I know you have your main job to do while conducting interview processes, but how important is it that you make this hire? When taking candidates through the interview process you should ask, does the candidate really NEED to meet with this person? If it's not a resounding yes, then don't bother adding an additional stage in. 

I have had an interview process take 2 weeks recently, in those 2 weeks they spoke with a Manager, the Head of, the MD, and an offer went out immediately afterwards. Even if that candidate was in another process elsewhere, there is no way they could have moved fast enough to secure the candidate, especially if you are sticking to the old school 6-10+ stage interview with presentations and days/weeks between interviews.

Today's market is moving fast, candidates are at home so can interview easier, they all have multiple opportunities and won't just “hang around” or be “kept warm”. 

Would you be happy to lose a candidate that is 99% a great fit just because you couldn't move fast enough, or wanted to see if you could find that extra 1%? 


Pay enough money,

If you are going to offer, prepare to make a good one.

In todays candidate led market, people have multiple opportunities, and an employer that may counteroffer them. It is super competitive, we have recently had a candidate almost double their salary because a client wanted to secure them. 

If you want the best people, you have to pay the best, or someone else will.  

This goes for your current employees too, loyalty often isn't rewarded and this could mean you are paying far below market rate which also makes you a headhunt target if anyone finds out.  Don't wait until they have been offered another job as it's already too late. 

If you can't afford to raise your salaries up, then you may need to lower your expectations or experience requirements 



They are becoming more and more important to an offer as people start to consider more than just money.  It shows you are invested in them, that you care about them, their health, wellbeing and future. It can also differentiate your business from competitors and can sometimes be the decider on 2 close offers. 

Some of the top benefits I have seen so far include, having a financial wellness programs, 

a strong 401K/Pension contribution and a high match, generous holiday allowance of 25-30+ days, professional development budgets, mental health benefits and of course, medical and dental for the family. 


Prepare for a counteroffer,

Counteroffering is usually cheaper and easier than rehiring, and we have seen a lot of them this year. 

Be prepared for their current employer to make an offer, you can either make the first offer high enough so they won't bother, or make sure you have some room in your budget to beat it. 

We wrote something on how to deal with counter offers here: Counteroffers and why to never accept them


Make good on promises,

In the interview process promises are made, they are usually around promotions after a certain amount of time, pay rises, being able to hire a team.  

You need to fulfil these, or just don't make them. This is the number 1 reason why candidates approach me.  It creates a feeling of mistrust and the candidate will feel like they have been lied to. Once that has happened, it is very difficult to fix, and it will have consequences for your employer branding. 

Again, don't wait until they leave to make good on these promises, because even if they stay, they won't stay very long. 



Diversity seems to be the buzzword nowadays, but a lot of people aren't in it for the right reasons, they are in it to tick a box, and it shows. 

Having a diverse workforce is great for employee engagement, productivity, and client services.  But diversity is more than just skin deep, it's in thinking, upbringing, background, language. 

It doesn't matter how “diverse” your business is if you all went to the same school, and your Dads play golf together, that's not real diversity.
You need to bring in people from other backgrounds, dare I say it, Non Ivy League Schools and outside of the industry. 

An easy way to do this is through internships, scholarships, and looking for transferable skills.

You need to commit to diversity at all levels, nobody wants to be at a boys club and it will up your staff retention and improve your employer branding, making it easier to hire as well as keep your staff, and relate to your clients. 


Work with a specialist,

Finding top talent is a long and hard process, that's why it's my full time job, and not something we can do on the side. 

We are experts and positioning your job correctly, we know where to look, how to find these people, and we find the best talent available, not just the best of who is actively applying for jobs.

We can save you time in the process, we can offer unique insights into the market, inform you of who is on the market, we are experts at dealing with counteroffers, contract negotiation, and it is our full time job to know these people already.

We are discrete and can open new doors to new talent, and can help eliminate any in-house unconscious bias. 

We also base our success on the longevity of our hires as well, employees placed through a search firm are much more likely to stay longer. 


If you would like to pair with a specialist Investment Management headhunter to help you hire the right people into your business, reach out to us here.

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