As we close out 2021 and proudly celebrate our 20th year in operation as a boutique executive search firm in the trading and risk management space, we felt inspired to reflect on what these years have taught us. Increasingly we find that our profoundly rooted philosophy on talent acquisition is unique but evermore relevant in today's talent landscape – where candidates and skills are scarce. This is true in most markets today, particularly in our subsectors: energy trading, technology, quantitative trading, and data and analytics.
While the four themes below on talent acquisition are acutely relevant for our markets, we feel they apply to most others as well. But before we dive into them, we would like to take a moment to thank all of our team members, clients, candidates, partners, and mentors for all their support over the past 20 years. We are eternally grateful to have worked – and continue working – with some of the most influential and interesting people on the planet.
In our years of operation, we have learned the simple (albeit powerful) lesson that relationships are positively the key to our success. A recent study showed that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience – and nearly 46% of organizations are heavily prioritizing customer experience over the next five years (more than pricing or product). So, to differentiate ourselves from our competition and exceed the expectations of the clients and candidates we represent, we put a lot of emphasis on building positive and valuable relationships with our communities. It is essential that our clients view us as a strategic growth partner and that our candidates trust us with their careers – for some – one of the most defining aspects of their lives.
We have intentionally kept our operations small to prioritize meaningful, long-lasting relationships. This approach yields loyalty and trust, which has been crucial during challenging times.
With great effort, people can change. But in our experience, permanent behavioral changes when it comes to attitudes around work are rare. And, many companies lack the skills or resources to know how to modify these types of changes in employees. This is why it's critical to identify if a candidate has the right pattern of behaviors and traits required for the job (more on this below).
While change is rare, in our opinion, the ability to adapt is paramount. We find that candidates who demonstrate this ability are more inspired to innovate, think creatively, and are acquiescent to new ideas.
In the world of trading and risk management, you must, of course, have the right skills to manage risk. And the same can be said for most other industries – there is a skill baseline that must be met to succeed in the role. However, with the U.S. Labor Department reporting record labor shortages (up to 4.3 million in August of 2021, the highest on records dating back to 2000), the competition for quality talent is at an all-time high. For our markets, this is notable due to the already limited talent pool pre-pandemic. In industries where it can take years to develop talent, like ours, talent acquisition teams must understand how to assess behavior patterns in candidates with a limited track record to review.
Twenty years in the business has cultivated our ability to identify these behavioral patterns in the candidates we work with. When there's a limited track record, the top five characteristics we look for are:
– Work ethic
– Entrepreneurial appetite
Of course, best-in-class employers and talent acquisition leaders should consider how to proactively combat skills shortages and limited talent pools through things such as strategic partnerships with educators, mentorship programs, and internships.
A fundamental thing that we've learned about talent acquisition is that you must play the long game when it comes to finding (and hiring) the right talent who will make an impact on your business's growth. It's the philosophy we apply to our internal hiring – and our client's. We've found that when you approach talent acquisition transactionally, you may realize short-term gains but experience long-term losses through attrition and a lack of engagement. This approach has helped us realize a 94% retention rate on candidates we've placed after 18 months – and 76% after three years.
If you're keen to learn more about our approach to executive search and how we might add value to your business as a strategic partner, please get in touch!