The war for talent

Date: 31 May 2017

Bumblebee Design

As the wealth industry has matured, so has its understanding of client succession. But the industry is also rising to a new challenge, upskilling their employees to be future leaders. Banks and intermediaries have hired a generation of tech savvy young professionals who are being primed to take their workload. However, whilst their IT skills certainly give them a great advantage when it comes to securing a job, Daniel Sopher, senior partner at accountancy firm Sopher & Co., says issues like a WhatsApp style of communication in a professional environment don’t always go down well and may even hinder career progression. In fact, in a recent media splash, a former investment banker was fined for sharing confidential information over WhatsApp which sends a warning out to phone-swiping millennials. Sopher adds that there are three main communication sins that irritate clients: grammatical errors, texting as a form of communication within the work space, and using emojis in written correspondence. Despite this downside, technology is proving successful as a tool to attract new talent. Sopher & Co.’s recruitment strategies include social media to highlight benefits, ongoing training, professional successes and their positive work culture.

Old fashioned  

However, the new generation are less keen to fit into existing corporate structures. They now have more information about work life balance to challenge senior management, they are in a market beset with mergers and acquisitions where a new supervisor may arrive without notice and they are more easily headhunted as salary transparency and work issues are discussed openly on platforms like Facebook. The result is a job-hopping generation which is difficult for an industry where client relationships are forged over many years and they often continue through to the next generation.  This approach, says Patricia Angus, founder and CEO of Angus Advisory Group, will limit long term career progression. She says she sees many young professionals focusing on salary package rather than the relationship chemistry and offers some sage advice. “Throughout a career there are professionals who will come in and out of your life. Developing strong relationships will pay off for years to come. It means showing an interest in others and giving as well as taking.” Daniel Martineau, executive chairman of Summit Trust International, also thinks that future leaders, like all previous generations, need to learn that job stability and dedication are important. “These lessons are best learned in hard times,” he says. “They are ‎getting that opportunity now with high youth unemployment. Let’s hope they respond positively.”

Girl power

That said, this new world order also has distinct advantages when it comes to re shaping corporate culture. Ashley Crossley, partner and head of wealth management at Baker & McKenzie, stresses the importance of keeping at the forefront of change if companies are to attract and retain talent. “The younger generation are actively engaged in gender and diversity issues which have resulted in far greater engagement from men and women at all levels within the firm”, says Crossley. “This has led to a better and more appreciative work environment for everyone.” According to Crossley, flexible working is another area where future leaders have had a positive contribution which has helped manage office space requirements and employee working conditions.

Baker & McKenzie also use contextual recruitment software, which enables them to view academic and personal achievements from candidates who are outside of elite universities to widen their poll of talent.  This has helped the firm to broaden access to their training contract opportunities, particularly to those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. “Given our strong focus on diversity,” says Crossley, “we work with a range of organisations including Aspiring Solicitors, the BLD Foundation and the Social Mobility Foundation to actively reach students from less well represented groups.”

Can’t buy my love

As well as a positive impact on corporate structures, future leaders are also helping to change the world. They are interested in employers with shared values and active CSR strategies. However, this approach may not be the best career-boosting strategy it at first seems. Patricia Angus thinks young professionals shouldn’t make assumptions about value systems to find themselves disappointed. “Not every organisation will share all your values,” she says. “It helps to understand the firm’s history and background to see where there is alignment, what might be changed, and what can’t.” Still, many companies have promoted their investment in corporate social responsibility to attract the best talent, and for employers, this strategy has paid off. For example, ninety percent of those who participate in video interviews for Baker & McKenzie graduate schemes cite diversity as the factor differentiating the firm from their competitors.  Ashley Crossley who is a long-standing diversity champion says: “We strive to create an environment where people feel able to be themselves. Alongside other factors such as the introduction of agile working and our commitment to LGBT+ equality, this has been a real asset in retaining talent.”