Kevin Johnston

I have written for The New York Daily News, The Houston Chronicle, The San Francisco Chronicle, Prudential, The NASDAQ, Standard & Poor's, a

May 19, 2021
Published on: Kevin on Authory
3 min read



Financial service providers may be facing the biggest changes of any industry.


Fintech exploded on the scene in recent years, offering consumers applications that allow them to manage their financial lives from their computers and smartphones. Blockchain technology allows people to exchange or send money on peer-to-peer sites with no middleman and no settlement periods. Artificial intelligence runs machines that can learn investor's tastes and risks and make recommendations. Robots may take over risk management, and chatbots will provide customized customer service for each individual.


All of this occurs in an environment with increasingly complex compliance and stringent regulations.


Financial services providers must find ways to cease doing things the way they used to and become more tech-savvy and compliance-friendly by finding ways to attract smart minds to the field.


Here are some of the ways financial services companies can position themselves as vibrant firms where top talent is welcome and nourished.


1, Establish a Creative Culture


Talented individuals seek work environments where their fresh ideas will be welcomed and taken seriously. Eliminate any semblance of being a stuffy, hierarchy-bound, this-is-how-we've-always-done-it company.


Make a serious effort to entertain fresh ideas and adapt to new attitudes. For example, instead of fighting Fintech, find leaders who embrace it so they can assure clients they are up to date with money management technologies.


Hire people who understand the potential for using Blockchain in the financial services sector. We are moments away from seeing job notices for a Blockchain Manager.


Make sure your brand has a reputation for embracing disruption and remaining agile in the face of shifting trends. This is where the excitement is for innovators, and they will be attracted to a firm that shares those values.


Don't focus exclusively on technology. Today's employees are socially conscious. Create opportunities to volunteer through company-sponsored initiatives and charity drives. Put some environmentally-friendly practices in place. Tie your vision to making the world a better place.


In addition, look for leaders who have a commitment to compliance and a taste for putting processes in place to make sure regulations are followed. Ask applicants to offer new approaches to enforcing compliance.


Leaders seek opportunities to collaborate. A team approach to projects will attract new talent that has a taste for being part of a meaningful group that shares a common goal.


Provide opportunities for continuous learning. Today's workforce expects to grow on the job through online training, in-person classes, and seminars. Make yourself into a learning-oriented company if you want the most vibrant talent.


Avoid a "gotcha' environment where mistakes are pounced on, and employees are chastised for the smallest mistakes. Offer a management style that is more akin to mentoring than bossing. This is the style of leading companies like Facebook and Apple.

2. Revamp Your Recruiting Process


Recruitment is the phase when most potential employees learn about your company. For any job-seeking platform you use, represent your company culture, vision, and goals consistently. Most importantly present your firm with integrity.


Integrity begins when your company composes a job notice. The description of the job itself and the company must be honest. Misrepresenting a position will disappoint applicants during the interview process. For example, if you say you want fresh ideas, but your company squashes new thinkers, you are merely posing as an advanced company. Make internal changes before you advertise a position so that you can support the new leader you hire.


Global changes in your culture and recruitment processes will be much more effective if you can hire leaders with a fresh vision to enact the new approaches. An effective innovator can at once exude an air of authenticity while gaining the loyalty of followers through encouraging them to identify with both the leader and the organization.


So, how to find such unique leaders? Consider a four-pronged approach:

  • Referrals

HR can contact effective leaders in other organizations, not in an attempt to steal them away, but to get referrals. Effective leaders tend to know each other. Contacting currently employed leaders will spread the word that you are looking and that you want top talent.

The leaders you contact are very likely to know what kind of skills are necessary for leadership positions, and a referral from them has much more value than a random search. Essentially, a leader who forwards your information to a candidate is endorsing you as a worthwhile company.

  • Professional Societies

Put the word out through professional groups in the financial services industry. Top leaders tend to belong to these groups, and your approach will be taken more seriously because of this. Focus on organizations that have requirements for entry, so that you can be assured you are searching among the best talent pool.

  • Alumni Lists

Peruse the alumni records of top schools, and pay attention to those with financial backgrounds and experience. People on these lists may be available for new positions or may know someone who is looking.

  • Social Media


  1. Advertise or prospect for candidates. Today's employees respond favorably to social media and expect modern companies to use it, so make sure you are well-represented in this area. Provide a way for candidates to interact with HR through messages. This will increase engagement from the start. One of the easiest ways to do this is through LinkedIn. You can email outstanding managers and CEOs to ask for referrals. This will save a lot of legwork and indicate that you are taking advantage of technology in your recruitment process. Contemporary leaders flock to technologically adept companies.


  1. Manage your reputation. Monitor social media to see what is being said about your company. Respond to any complaints positively, and address malicious attacks by exposing them for what they are.
  2. Read what your current employees are saying about working for you. If you see negative comments, make changes to address employee concerns and encourage them to update what they have said about you. Of course, encourage those who give positive reports about your company. This will help attract leaders who want a forward-thinking company when it comes to dealing with internal problems.

No matter which methods you use, emphasize the need for fresh thinking and innovative ideas. You are not just looking for a solid background; you want someone who can endorse the changes you are making to attract top talent. Review the cultural change you are targeting, and name them when contacting potential leaders.


3. Leverage Your Top Performers


Identify your stellar employees, the ones who already understand the types of innovations you are trying to implement. Not only may some of them be candidates for leadership roles that can take you to a new future, but they can also be sources of referrals.


Encourage them to use their contacts, social media sites, and professional networks to help you find the best candidates.


Emphasize the need for fresh thinking and innovative ideas. You are not just looking for a solid background; you want someone who can endorse the changes you are making to attract top talent. Review the cultural changes you are targeting, and name those changes when contacting potential applicants.


4. Utilize a Non-Traditional Interview Path


Use the latest technology to recruit. Today's applicants expect one-way video interviews, where they interact with prompts on the screen and answer questions. They also expect a career site that is modern, interactive, and up to date. This should be a separate site from your main company site.


Think of ways to get to know a candidate beyond the traditional phone call and in-person interview. You can ask for a presentation or a list of innovative ideas the candidate would like to try if hired. Perhaps you could ask the applicant to interview you, focusing on questions that will help the individual understand the company and the potential for fitting in.


Use your imagination, but if you offer a fresh interview process, the people who shine during it will be the ones with fresh ideas.


5. Show Consistency in Your Hiring Approach


Some organizations use different methods for different job levels. If you emphasize something like creative problem solving, make it clear when hiring for positions from the top to the bottom. This will eventually create a staff that shares the same core values.


Of course, this is not something to emphasize while hiring then neglect while managing. You will need processes in place to honor and encourage the innovative approaches you are asking for.


When interviewing potential leaders, ask them how they would adjust the hiring approach to reflect a new approach to leading.


6. Maintain a Talent Pipeline with Top Recruiting Platforms.


Today's successful recruiters utilize software that helps to source applicants, screen them, and track them through the recruiting process. This helps prevent good talent from slipping through the cracks.


It is essential that you use a platform that will keep the best candidates in front of you so that you know you are selecting from the top talent available. 


You may consider platforms such as:

  • Simppler
  • Entelo Search
  • Workable
  • WayUp
  • Hired
  • ICIMS

This list is not an endorsement. Consider it a starting place for thinking about how to automate part of your hiring process with an eye toward finding the best. The purpose of any platform is not merely to streamline recruitment, but to ensure that a process is in place to identify the most qualified and appropriate candidates.


Not all platforms work for all companies. Search for one that fits your needs, and utilize free trial periods whenever possible to get a hands-on experience before you buy or subscribe.


7. Implement Learning and Collaboration Tools


At first glance, it might not seem like providing advanced technology for working in teams and gaining knowledge is a recruitment concern. But in fact, when you have modern, streamlined ways for employees to work together and for leaders to use when influencing change, you position yourself as a company people will want to work for.


These tools allow teams to work together that are geographically spread out, or that are unable to gather in a conference room all at once. This is precisely the type of collaboration millennials say they look for in a job, and even applicants outside that age group expect teamwork facilitated by technology.


Search for leaders that embrace modern collaboration platforms and that keep up with innovations in this area.


The Bottom Line


In the financial services sector, attracting top talent means being a top company. This involves constant upgrading of your culture to remain on the cutting edge of recruitment and retention techniques.


As the industry experiences rapid changes in how it operates, it also must maintain modern recruitment techniques. The way you approach candidates reflects the way you do business. If you are innovative and forward-thinking in your financial service delivery, your hiring process should demonstrate your approach.


The primary conflict to resolve is this: you want experienced leaders in financial services, but you don't want people who are tied to the ways they have done things in the past. Game changers are those who have outgrown their old methods and will help you outgrow yours.


Secondly, you want innovators but not renegades. You are looking for integrity when it comes to compliance, not workarounds.

Finally, be prepared to be surprised. Top talent is at the top for a reason. Listen to your candidates, and rethink ideas that strike you as too far out of the box at first. The best way to attract great leaders is to be one. And great leaders listen.


Finally, be prepared to be surprised. Top talent is at the top for a reason. Listen to your candidates, and rethink ideas that strike you as too far out of the box at first. The best way to attract great leaders is to be one. And great leaders listen.