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How to recruit top digital talent

Many young professionals are attracted to fintechs and startups. So how can banks and financial services make working for them a more attractive option. Paul Stallard looks at how to recruit and retain the talented people with technical skills.

The recruitment process is never easy. It is becoming increasingly complex and subject to more detailed research, analysis, new thinking and different models of employment.

But even eye-watering salaries and golden hello payments have not done the trick in some areas of banking and finance. Bloomberg reports that bankers are quitting because the lifestyle trade-off isn’t worth it. Others report bankers are most likely to cite mental health issues as the main reason for leaving.

The image of banking remains damaged as a result of the 2007/08 financial crisis. The image of bankers being selfish, aggressive and uncaring does not appeal to top talent. And landing a job with one the UK’s largest banks does not have the same kudos it once had.

Repairing the ‘UK bank’ brand image will take time. So many incumbent banks and financial services companies struggle to find the right talent especially among those with desirable digital skills. This is holding them back from tackling IT and competitive challenges quickly enough.

So what can we do to improve the situation?

Recruiting talent with tech skills

Planning

First, it’s more important than ever to practise a robust, focused and extremely active succession planning process. If you wait to replace people after they’ve left, you could take six months to find their successor. It will then be another three to six months before they begin firing on all cylinders.

You should also consider internal candidates first. Make an immediate and sustained investment in re-training, up-skilling, life-long learning and continued skills development.

Recruiting

During the recruitment process, you should give all applicants an excellent, well-co-ordinated, seamless and memorable recruitment experience – not a grilling. Make them feel comfortable and in control, perhaps to the point where they are interviewing the bank. That will make them feel more favourable towards working for you.

Dig deep to discover if a candidate has the right skills to perform their role and establish first exactly what the duties of that role will be.

One recruiter I spoke to told me they never take much notice of job descriptions. Most job descriptions are at least four pages long and usually only 20% of that content relates to what the job involves.

“The first thing I do is insist on speaking to the line manager involved and ask ‘exactly what do you want this person to do?’”

Retaining talent with tech skills

To appeal to the right talent, banks must demonstrate that they are alive to, and accepting of, new ways of doing things. For example, banks must prove they have thought about what to do with new technology eg Web 3.0, the metaverse, etc.

Banks must give talented recruits the tools they need. For example, if product managers ask for a low-code development platform to get products to market quicker, they should get it.

Why not build or outsource the creation of an innovation-hub or incubation centre where creativity and fearless experimentation take place?

Make doubly sure people are not put in roles where they are uncomfortable or not best suited. In other words, do not make a poor senior manager out of an extremely good administrator.

And trust your employees to revisit and re-engineer how and when they work. Management simply needs to layout business objectives. Above all, remember we live at a time where equality, diversity, inclusivity, ESG and sustainability are fundamental to many people’s values. If you want to recruit and retain the very best talent, these values need to be ingrained in everything you do.

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