How to hire the top financial services talent

The financial world has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the past decade - and businesses are now having how to hire the top financial services talent. From the boom years of the early-to-mid noughties, to the credit crunch and ensuing City meltdown, financial services has constantly been changing. Financial services jobs were created, with attractive salaries and even more attractive bonuses, but then many were lost as the financial climate rapidly deteriorated.

As 2008-09 displayed, financial services and employment stability do not always go hand-in-hand. But despite this, and the difficulties faced in the industry over the years, talented professionals still find themselves drawn to the sector. In a recent study conducted by of Robert Half, 88 per cent of financial services executives said they see the City as being an attractive career option.

Some 57 per cent said the main reason they are interested in financial services is the potential financial rewards - high salaries and bonuses. Another 16 per cent cited career progression opportunities as being the main draw, while 15 per cent of respondents were primarily attracted by the 'interesting work' on offer within the sector.

Repairing the industry reputation

However, some professionals appear reluctant to pursue careers in financial services. As well as redundancies during the banking crisis, the City has seen its fair share of scandals over the years. Concerns over sanction breaking, rate manipulation, insider dealing and reckless trading - plus the ethics of bonus payments - have all tarnished the reputation of the City to some extent.

This means employers may find it difficult to hire the top financial services talent, those who can make a positive difference to their organisation. Robert Half found that 39 per cent of professionals consider the reputation of financial services to be a concern - and a potential reason to target a job elsewhere.

With this in mind, City organisations are taking proactive steps to try and improve their employer brand in order to hire the top financial services talent in UK. Almost half (48 per cent) of businesses have implemented flexible working schemes, rising to 64 per cent of large companies. They have also introduced remote working (34 per cent), taken steps to improve the work environment (28 per cent) and invested in corporate social responsibility (26 per cent). In 24 per cent of cases, employers are offering higher salaries and more attractive benefits to attract and retain the talent they require.

Doing more to hire the top financial services talent 

Neil Owen, global practice director at Robert Half Financial Services, claimed the financial services industry remains an "attractive career option" for many, providing challenge, opportunity and reward for the right people. However, he warned that times are changing, meaning this alone may not be enough to hire the top financial services talent.

"Today’s brightest stars have options, with the UK boasting a vibrant technology community, a multitude of entrepreneurial opportunities and a host of innovative companies, all vying for the best talent," Mr Owen stated. As such, City firms may need to up their game or risk being left behind.

"Embracing and investing in one’s employer brand - providing work environments and benefits programmes that attract, motivate and retain while also aligning to the ethos of today’s workforce, will ensure the industry remains the palpable choice for new entrants and experienced professionals alike," he claimed.

Mr Owen said the best employees are those with soft skills as well as technical ability. "Although relevant experience and professional qualifications can get you to the interview stage, many companies are now looking at soft skills as part of a wider package, reflecting the hire for attitude, train for skill mentality," he stated. Mr Owen claimed that commercial acumen and a good personality fit can take you from the interview into the boardroom.