Financial Services – Don’t get left behind!

Working in Badenoch & Clark’s financial services division for the last four years has shown me first-hand how the industry’s attitude to hiring has changed. In the beginning, candidates were sought from near identical firms, working in near identical roles; today, that approach is seen as somewhat insular by the more forward-thinking sectors.

The professionals I work with have creative talent in abundance, but work in a heavily regulated industry – which at times can be pretty stifling. So why am I telling you about the people I recruit for? Well, because marketing and communications is the first department across investment management to start changing its ways when it comes to industry exchange – great news for creative professionals, and the employers keen to recognise their worth.

I have long been told that if you can sell, it doesn’t matter what you are selling. It’s a skill that will forever be in demand, and it’s transferrable. Now, you’d probably expect this to be the case for, say, a Communications Manager? If you’re skilled in communications, the industry you work in should have little bearing right? Wrong. Direct, like-for-like experience is so often the order of the day. But fortunately, things are changing. And I believe we have start-ups and digital disrupters to thank.

The way we work across all industries is changing: with flexible working considered the ‘new normal’, finding innovative ways to get the best out of employees has become a priority in the boardroom of many a company. And financial services is beginning to follow suit.

In terms of disruptive brands, we work with a lot of firms started by ex-bulge bracket employees who want to make a big change. These firms push boundaries, think more like a Google than a Goldmans, and encourage their staff to challenge the status quo. A lot of these innovators seek fresh ideas by hiring people from outside of the industry. It’s quite simple really: if you want to be better than and different from your competitors, why is a competitor the first place you look to hire from? A unique environment draws people in and makes your sell so much stronger.  Just look at a company like Octopus Investments: their CEO Simon Rogerson lives and breathes the company’s values and culture, and their very proud customer focus, not to mention massive growth over the last few years, will tell you that people want to work for firms like this!

You don’t have to look far to see the words ‘digital disruption’ these days; it has already become a massive part of our industry. People are putting their customers at the forefront of their business plans and coming onto the market with a bang. You only have to look at the recent fundraising round that Tandem Bank undertook to know that people are taking this extremely seriously. Starling, Atom, Monzo and even Nutmeg are upping their game and it’s forcing traditional investment firms and banks into a corner.

I get excited about working with brands like this and so do the candidates I partner. So it’s time to ask yourself: do you do enough to attract the best talent? These suggestions are based not only on what candidates are looking for but what makes firms a better option to those who haven’t even thought about looking yet.

  -  Do you do everything you can to accommodate flexible working? I mean is it absolutely crucial that everyone is in the office from 8am to 5.30pm every day? It’s also good to remember that people don’t just want a bit of flex because they have children, so make sure flexible working is open to everyone.

  -  Are you collegiate or more of a traditional career ladder firm? Figure out what you do well and hire the people who respond well to that environment.

  -  When it comes to interviews, do you really need 23 people to meet each new hire? There are two pitfalls here: firstly, not everyone is going to agree; secondly, a lengthy process increases the chances of you losing your first choice candidate because someone else could move faster.

  -  Do you hire exclusively from within your industry? Live a little; be creative. This might not work for all positions but it could bring so many fresh ideas and make you more successful.

  -  Suits and ties? It’s something that costs nothing but if the role isn’t client facing could you relax your dress code a little? It helps, trust me!

  -  Encourage people to exercise: have a running club or something similar – it’s great for employee bonding and engagement.

If you aren’t already asking yourselves these questions, you should be! Don’t get left behind by sticking to what you have always done.

This is a subject I am really passionate about and one which could make hiring, and keeping your future superstars, so much easier. If you want to discuss anything raised in this blog you can reach me on 0207 6340266 or email


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