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The bigger picture

When I was asked by Money Marketing to contribute to its Professional Brief about the “good, the bad and the ugly” in financial services recruitment, my initial thought was how apt the phrase is. This roller-coaster industry has certainly been tough for the first quarter of the year.

Recruitment seemed to take a bit of a backburner due to A-Day as well as the usual excuses of tax year-end, school holidays and the Easter break. Thankfully, things are now going uphill fast and once again the market is extremely buoyant.

The market is crying out for IFAs, mortgage advisers, paraplanners and experienced support administrators. Financial services is busy on both the corporate and individual financial planning markets, which is wonderful for us recruitment consultants. Candidates, particularly financial advisers, seem to have set in their minds on the size of the company.

Are larger companies safer to work for? Is it true that they offer greater leads, support and marketing? They generally offer great personal training, genuine career paths and of course a benefits package. But do they have too many mouths to feed? Do they fulfil all of their promises? Over the past few years, some well known names have liquidated or been swallowed up by better-known (or wealthier) organisations.

On the other hand, is it better to work for a smaller firm that relies heavily on its reputation? This quite often appeals to advisers attracted to the idea of being able to work autonomously. These firms usually employ advisers on a self-employed basis or employed with a lower basic salary but is the overall earning potential as great as it seems?

Recruitment consultants are good listeners and can offer great advice. A lot of advisers and financial services professionals seeking a new position go to where an ex-colleague or friend is working but they are probably missing out as they are unaware of all the options available.

It is hard to find high-quality candidates at the moment. Are clients being fussier, more particular? I do not think so. It appears that good people are happier in their current roles and are being paid well enough to stay. Sadly, counter offers seem to be making a drastic reappearance as the market is aware that good people do not grow on trees.

Is this an ageing industry? Is opening the door to youngsters the answer? There does not seem to be a great deal of opportunities for graduates, college leavers or quality people from other industries that already have good sales or administration experience.

I have noticed that when recruiting for larger firms, they are more likely to have a PSL (preferred supplier list) in place whereas the smaller players will not have so much loyalty as cannot afford to turn down the chance if a fantastic CV lands on their desk. The phone will usually ring within five minutes asking for an interview to be arranged for the next day. Of course, there is more to our job than being a CV broker. It is sad that the days of “get on the phone” have been replaced by email and voicemail. It does have its advantages as clients can be contacted 24-7 and candidates that have difficulty speaking with us during working hours are able to communicate effectively.

Well, I am certainly enjoying this roller-coaster ride. What I expect in the future is for the number of candidates to continue to rise, as workers should have received their year-end bonuses and now will be ready to open their eyes to the wealth of opportunities available. In the long term, I hope to see more qualified individuals that can be placed within this industry that never ceases to excite me.

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