Six Data-driven Recommendations for Attracting Business and STEM Talent to the Financial Sector

Six Data-driven Recommendations for Attracting Business and STEM Talent to the Financial Sector

Post financial crisis, the future of recruiting in the financial services (FS) industry looked bleak. Trust in financial institutions lagged behind the recovery, making it challenging for companies in the industry to recruit top talent. More recently, the outlook appears to be improving and across the industry (and in investment banking in particular), employers are doing a better job meeting the expectations of young professionals yet more can still be done. Below we detail six data-driven recommendations by Universum, to improve your employer brand and help you attract and retain the business and STEM talent.

1. Competitive remuneration will attract top talent, but a clear path to advancement, strong training and development programs, and work life balance will retain them

Handsome pay packages will always be important for luring top students, yet the issues that matter to first year bankers, analysts, and the like are very different from those that are meaningful after a year or two of grueling hours.

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2. Work/life balance benefits must not come at the detriment of other key values

When asked what their top career goals are, students most often choose “to have work/life balance” – and this has been true across industries and spanning years. It’s not necessarily cited as a key issue in the hiring process, but it’s clearly a long-term goal for young professionals. In the banking and financial services industry, this has been particularly difficult, because grueling hours are nearly a rite of passage for young recruits (and taking that away breeds resentment among older employees). Employers must be careful to ensure new programs or benefits to support work-life balance are genuine, and mark real changes inside the organization rather than lip-service to change.
Coupled with advice to not stay past 7pm on a Friday, for example, banks must take work away from junior bankers to ensure the work actually gets done. Will the culture of banking change to accommodate new expectations among younger workers? The question isn’t an ‘if’ but a ‘when’.
Also key: Regarding work-life balance issues by generation. Work/life balance for a worker in his/her forties – who may be juggling caring for aging parents and young children – looks very different from work-life balance arrangements for young professionals starting their careers. In many organizations, initiatives to address work-life balance address mid-life challenges. Employers must ensure they respect quality of life issues for all employees, not just those facing more acute personal/work challenges.

3. Both business students and STEM students describe themselves as ‘careerists’, and employers must treat them as such

The trend among financial services institutions to limit the number of top (high-paying) roles and expand junior roles will create a serious crisis of opportunity for younger employees. With fewer management roles to aspire to, young bankers and analysts will seek out roles in different companies or industries that can accommodate their desire to grow their careers.
For those institutions with limited pathways to promotion (fewer top spots, in other words), there are other opportunities to signal advancement to promising young employees, including reward-based
assignments such as: (a) Offering short-term international assignments for those professionals who want experience outside of their home base, and to network with other parts of the organization, and gain new skills. (b) Tapping employees for projects outside of their immediate scope of work. Taking notes from the tech start-up world, companies ask high-value young employees to participate in innovative, project-based ‘scrums’. These are multidisciplinary teams given the task of solving critical problems or exploring new opportunities in a specific time frame.
(c) Speeding face-to-face contact with clients. In the banking industry in particular, getting in front of clients for the first time might take years. Some organizations are shortening the path as a way of showing confidence in work well done.

4. Offering professional development and training should also be a top priority, but employers must ensure it is meaningful for young employees

It’s been clear for many years that training and development are key issues for younger workers.
What hasn’t always been clear is how to connect with younger workers. Millennials seek rapid feedback in real time, and many current training and development programs are outdated. First, Millennials simply want more of it: Research from Deloitte shows young workers want to increase the amount of time spent on leadership development skills from 2.7 hours a week (current) to 4.5 hours a week (ideal) – an increase of two thirds. Also, mentoring is a critical strategy for Millennials: Those who indicate they intend to stay with their current employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not (32 percent). Finally, Millennials – who are the first true digital natives – require on-demand solutions that allow them to steer and control their education. (This is the generation that grew up with the verb, ‘Google’, and are accustomed to findings answers to their questions within seconds.) The ecosystem of online training and development solutions is massive and growing. Companies should be continually taking stock of what’s available, evaluating whether their current portfolio of programs and solutions fits their needs, and is truly the most effective possible, particularly for younger workers.

5. Employers must take care to segment their audience for critical high-value roles

Research from Universum shows significant variability in goals and aspirations country-by-country, as well as based on area of study. To recruit for specific high-value roles – be they in data security, mobile payment systems, or a variety of knowledge-based fields – employers should consider a hyper targeted approach. For example, for a software engineering position in London, what recruiting messages will hold most weight?
This need is particularly great in the Asian-Pacific countries, which tend to be lumped together as a single market but have significant variability country-by-country. Our research shows students from countries in the Asian-Pacific region have very different attitudes about what they seek from employers, and what they want for their careers. Hyper-local recruiting is challenging to execute, but extremely worthwhile for roles that drive a company’s innovation and growth.

6. To recruit a new generation of technologists – with skills the industry desperately needs – employers must look beyond the profiles of students already heading for jobs in financial services

Research from Edelman shows the financial services industry has a bright spot: The public has a much higher degree of trust in the industry’s management of electronic and mobile processing payment systems than it does in the financial services industry overall. Other bright spots likely exist as well – from the industry’s race to outsmart cyber-criminals to developments in cloud-computing solutions. For employers, it’s key to recruit tech talent to financial institutions by presenting the industry (and your company) as poised to improve people’s lives. While banks are not typically defined as innovative, there’s no question these organizations are set for rapid change, as tech companies like Google and Apple rush into the banking and payment space. This is both a competitive challenge and a recruiting opportunity for many institutions.

Attracting STEM & Business Students to the Financial Industry

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