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2018-EXEC-talent market reflections 650x434


It’s been a year that none of us in this industry will forget.

The Banking Royal Commission has been like a boulder in a pond, creating a shockwave, then surges that penetrated every niche and crevice, and washed away years of silt and debris.

Nothing in banking and finance will be the same – and we haven’t yet seen the final chapter of this scarifying probe.

It accompanies another historic shift – the end of the era of ultra-low interest rates, fueling higher bank funding costs, restructuring and divestment of wealth divisions, and the slicing of layers from middle and senior management, as everyone strives to become leaner and more strategic.

Amid all of this, I have seen subtle trends impacting the sector. As we near the end of a turbulent 2018, I thought I’d share some of the changes that I’ve observed and how they are impacting the market and our work.

Expanding gender diversity – this is the big trend across the industry. It has become vital to have strong female representation on boards, the workforce and on shortlists for key positions.

There are now dedicated recruitment firms that focus solely on female talent, and for many senior positions, it is essential to identify female executives and managers who are already industry leaders in their respective sectors, or are emerging leaders ready to take the next step in their careers.

With board level mandates dictating greater gender diversity, it means strong competition for the best female candidates. This has seen a reduction in the gender pay disparity and moves by leading employers to ‘lock down’ female executives through fast-tracked leadership and personal development programs.

Questioning LinkedIn – there are growing questions about the effectiveness of LinkedIn as a tool for executive recruiters.

Many candidates I’ve dealt with have spoken of being inundated by recruiters on LinkedIn, to the point where it has become spam-like, and they are simply taking down their profiles, providing minimal information or blocking inquiries.

We should have seen this coming. LinkedIn is a great device, but a poor one for recruiters who rely on it as the main tool for candidate selection. The fact is you can’t rely on LinkedIn only and expect to uncover the best candidates.

If you don’t have deep networks in selected markets, you will almost certainly be missing out on the best talent.

We must also remember that for many people who are successful in their roles and highly sought, maintaining a profile on social media is just not a priority.

Investment in EVP – there is a growing trend by leading employers to engage candidates from the moment they accept an offer, in order to maintain momentum with their new hire.

While many firms engage candidates early in the hiring process to align and showcase the organisational values, culture and ethos (and expect candidates to have absorbed them), continuing the engagement following an accepted offer is an intriguing lever that firms are deploying to stay ahead of the game.

Once an offer is accepted, leading firms have lifted their level of interaction to embed the candidates, engaging them with digital content around the value experience. These activities help to bind and excite the new hire before they even step foot in the building and creates a ‘stickiness’ in the important early months of the appointment.

Being more selective – all of us make critical decisions about the way we devote our time and resources in the daily work environment, and this is equally true of executive search and recruitment.

I’ve seen a number of recent examples of offshore firms planning to set up locally, and needing a country head, sometimes with an extravagant list of qualities, to the point where the talent is all but impossible to find.

This, of course, takes time and resources away from other clients and core business. It drives home the point about where we should devote our attention and service for best results.

While weighing up these priorities has always been a constant in the recruitment industry, this year more than ever we have politely declined work in order to focus our attentions on our core business.

Risk is out, it’s all about the customer – and, returning to the Banking Royal Commission, we have seen a landmark shift in the whole risk profile that underpins the sector – away from the high-growth focus, to one that prioritises both regulatory compliance and the customer.

No banking CEO can afford to allow the strategic focus to become unbalanced in the way that was exposed over the past year.

Management KPIs and employee scorecards are now firmly recalibrated to reward customer satisfaction ahead of growth at any cost.

So, it’s perhaps fitting that at the end of a tumultuous year, the customer is king!

Trevor Bradley headshot Kelly Executive 2017 v2 Author: Trevor Bradley is the Direct of Kelly Executive. 

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