May 14, 2019

To Attract Mid-Career Candidates, Financial Services Companies Must Think Outside the Box

Hiring remains a challenge in the financial services industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in financial services stands at 2.2 percent, lower than the nationwide average of 4.9 percent.

Between 2016 and 2026, employment in this sector is expected to grow faster than the nationwide average for all jobs, placing pressure on financial services firms to fill 773,800 new positions.

Meanwhile, financial talent can be tough to find — especially when financial services organizations must play tug of war with fintech firms for the best talent. To stay competitive, financial services companies will need to attract and keep strong candidates at every stage of a financial career.

By focusing on the qualities that help candidates thrive in your organization, seeking candidates in unusual places and offering the support mid-career candidates need, financial services organizations can beat the odds and win the war for talent.

Understand What ‘Strength’ Means to Your Financial Services Firm

What traits, skills and development paths provide the keys to success within your organization?

By pinpointing which factors lead to success, a financial services company can build a profile describing the type of candidate who will thrive on the job. Understanding what success looks like on your team helps ensure you reach out to candidates who match these factors for success.

One way to implement these insights is to develop formalized assessments for both existing staff and incoming candidates. Dr. Elaine D. Pulakos, executive vice president and director of the Personnel Decisions Research Institute’s Washington, D.C. office, lays out the methodology for such assessments. This work can help organizations gather data, which can then be analyzed to reveal the patterns of skills and traits that support mid-career employee growth and success.

Assessments can help future-proof a financial services firm’s hiring, as well. By rigorously creating job descriptions and understanding the essential tasks, skills and insights unique to each role, financial services firms can also identify the ways in which these roles may adapt to new challenges.

Financial services

Accounting and Finance Recruiters Should Seek Candidates Creatively

Many financial services companies that have recruited top mid-career talent have done so by changing the way in which they approach candidate sourcing and hiring. A combination of technological tools and innovative recruitment programs have helped these organizations expand their candidate pools.

Reduce Bias and Promote Diversity

A lack of diversity has become a major concern in the financial sector. As competition increases and the need for qualified talent rises, organizations that embrace diversity also embrace the innovation and flexibility required to thrive in a rapidly changing industry, says Nigel Carter, partner and global leader of financial services industry at Mercer.

Tools that help financial services companies reduce bias can in turn help to promote diversity and broaden their candidate reach. For example, human resources software that leverages artificial intelligence can be used to identify patterns in the profiles of past and current candidates. By seeking and studying patterns, these companies can understand both what makes their top performers thrive and which factors are common among their most promising candidates.

Ultimately, organizations that focus on hiring more diversely are likely to win the war for talent because they will create larger and more robust pools of high-quality candidates. “Anybody who doesn’t think about how to bring in more women won’t be able to compete, because they’re just cutting out half the talent from their opportunity set,” says Jenny Johnson, president and COO at Franklin Templeton Investments.

The same applies to financial services companies that don’t think about how to encourage diversity in other areas, as well.

Finance Recruiters Should Encourage Returners

One way to meet diversity goals and target mid-career professionals simultaneously is to build a strong returner program. These programs focus on attracting financial services professionals, often women, who have chosen to leave the industry but are now looking at opportunities to return to work.

For example, Swiss investment bank UBS launched a program in 2016 to attract professionals who have taken a career break of two years or longer. Known as “Career Comeback,” the program seeks to hire for permanent positions, many of them in mid-career, director and senior-level areas, says Carolanne Minashi, global head of diversity and inclusion at UBS.

“We’ve found a huge wealth of talent that were operating at that level before taking a break, but they are being overlooked by standard recruitment methods,” Minashi tells Forbes. To date, both men and women have applied to the Career Comeback program and been hired, to UBS’s benefit.

Financial services

Tailor Your Offerings to Candidates’ Priorities

When mid-career candidates have multiple opportunities open to them, attracting their attention means offering exactly what these candidates are looking for.

Build and Promote Strong Culture Within You Financial Institution

By identifying what makes their financial services firm unique, even smaller players in the industry can position themselves as major competitors for top mid-career talent, says executive career coach Tim Windhof.  

Tools that help financial services companies identify the qualities that promote success in individual employees can also help these companies identify the pillars of their internal culture. For instance, assessments can be used not only to examine which skills lead to success, but also which goals your organization embraces most enthusiastically and which values your teams use as foundations for their daily decision-making.

“As we grow, we spend more and more time on talent acquisition,” says Roger Ward, CIO of TrueWealth. “The key is a well-developed culture.”

Support Mid-Career Candidates With Mid-Life-Enhancing Benefits

Candidates looking for a career change in financial services have come to expect a certain structure to compensation packages. They’ve also come to expect that the industry offers mobility, says Emily Anderson, director of the Career Management Center at Vanderbilt University. If compensation in one position doesn’t meet their needs, mid-career candidates know they can switch to a company and compensation package that do.

As a result, it’s essential for financial services companies to consider whether they’re offering benefits tailored to the life stage at which particular candidates find themselves. For instance, mid-career candidates may place greater emphasis on wellness and retirement savings.

Offering benefits that align with the immediate needs and goals of the professionals you’re trying to attract can help make job offerings stand out to those candidates, says Paul Byrnes, vice president of distributor development for NetPlus Alliance. These benefits communicate that your organization supports its mid-career staff both in and out of the office.

“Ultimately, potential employees want to know their efforts will be valued and respected in your company,” Byrnes writes.

Digital tools that use artificial intelligence, machine learning and similar enhancements can make it simple for financial services companies to gather data about candidates and staff members. With those insights in hand, these organizations can focus on diversifying their recruitment efforts, diversifying their teams, and providing the culture and benefits that mid-career candidates want most.

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