Top 10 ways to boost talent acquisition in financial services

With employees often representing a company's greatest cost and most important asset, investing in talent acquisition is vital to achieving high levels of productivity and profitability

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Ensuring you have validated, honest and engaging reasons for candidates to want to work for your company will attract the best and most culturally aligned talent to your organisation

Cielo recently surveyed more than 400 talent leaders from seven countries across Europe to explore how organisations’ talent acquisition strategies impact their overall productivity and profitability. As experts in talent acquisition, we were prepared with our hypothesis that companies investing in talent acquisition would report higher productivity and higher profits.

What we weren’t prepared for, however, was how clear these results would actually be: investing in talent acquisition can increase profits by up to 20 percent, something no business can afford to ignore.

We developed the Impact Maturity Model from our findings, and published it in our report European Talent Acquisition Trends: Productivity, Profitability & Personal Impact. As part of the Impact Maturity Model, we identify characteristics of well-developed talent acquisition functions – or, what we call, ‘high impact functions’ – as well as characteristics of medium and low impact talent acquisition functions.

Broadly speaking, by ‘talent acquisition function’ we mean the act of not only hiring new people, but identifying people with the right skills and qualities to become innovators, leaders and future company executives. This requires a much more strategic and specialist-knowledge-based approach.

Investing in talent acquisition can increase profits by up to 20 percent, something no business can afford to ignore

High impact talent acquisition functions are distinguished by a strategy that shapes business decisions, segments talent across geographies and uses recruitment analytics. Low impact talent acquisition functions, meanwhile, are typically characterised by a lack of recruitment marketing and measurement, and have little or no cost-per-hire control.

Surprisingly, only 28 percent of talent acquisition functions in financial services were categorised as high impact and reported high productivity and profitability, meaning an overwhelming 72 percent were categorised as medium or low impact. With so much room for improvement, here are 10 things to consider in your approach to talent acquisition:

Close the skills gap
Across the board, the biggest challenge cited by the talent leaders we surveyed was the skills gap in their industry. For financial services companies, addressing this requires long-term planning.

The financial services sector is still an attractive career prospect, but its allure has taken a dip in recent years, especially among young people. The industry needs to address this as a whole, but individual companies can also have an impact by reaching out to schools – not just universities – to interest people in the sector early on.

The Apprenticeship Levy also gives financial services companies the opportunity to present their own prospects of training and employment as a viable alternative to university.

A well-defined employer value proposition (EVP) also plays an important part here; ensuring you have validated, honest and engaging reasons for candidates to want to work for your company will attract the best and most culturally aligned talent to your organisation. Today, providing insight into the organisation online – through video content, for example – is crucial.

Create a flexible work environment
Addressing the skills gap should not just be about hiring new talent into the business. If you are seeking workers with certain abilities, they don’t necessarily need to be in the office from nine-to-five to complete their work.

Even ‘traditional’ industries like financial services need to shake up their employment model. The goal should be finding the best person for the job – whether they do it remotely, flexibly, part-time or as part of a job share.

Poor candidate experience damages employer brand, and could damage consumer brand as well

A PWC report found 55 percent of Millennials in the sector compromised when accepting their current role, while 48 percent were actively looking for new opportunities.

People are looking for more flexible, outside-the-box working options, and organisations that deliver them will be more attractive to prospective talent.

Nurture ‘bread-and-butter’ skills
A key challenge faced by talent leaders is the need to get back to basics and invest in improving core talent acquisition skills. Of the professionals surveyed, 33 percent wanted to improve their telephone interviewing skills and 30 percent cited keeping candidates ‘warm’ between selection and start date as their biggest weakness. Investing in such key areas is crucial.

Poor candidate experience damages employer brand, and could damage consumer brand as well – particularly in the financial services industry where candidates may be pre-existing or potential customers.

Investing in hiring manager training also helps in this area; ensuring the hiring manager understands the full recruitment process and what is expected of them means the candidate has a more fluid experience.

Ensure your business is accessible
Whatever your benefits package, perks or presence in the industry, candidates ultimately buy-in to the people.

With this in mind, we work closely with clients in the financial services industry to improve their employer brand. Again, having a clearly defined EVP is important; it showcases your organisation’s positive attributes and allows candidates to discover useful content in an engaging way. This helps demonstrate the culture of a business, and makes everyone from senior leadership to junior staff more accessible and relatable.

The more a candidate knows about an organisation, the more likely they are to select themselves into the recruitment process. The Bank of England was recently cited as one of the top 15 companies British business students want to work for – alongside tech giants Apple and Google – because students felt working there would mean opportunities for greater responsibility. This characteristic is well presented on the bank’s website, which features a downloadable introduction to working at the bank.

Encourage talent acquisition leaders to learn from others
As creating clear goals is not always easy, our 12 key dimensions of talent acquisition provide a self-assessment for teams, enabling talent leaders to visualise key areas in need of improvement.

You can gain priceless insights by networking and learning what other companies do well as part of their talent acquisition strategy

External feedback is valuable for goal setting as well. Talent acquisition teams should be encouraged to build their professional networks and foster relationships with their counterparts at other organisations – even competitors.

You can gain priceless insights by networking and learning what other companies do well as part of their talent acquisition strategy.

Use candidates’ feedback to improve your process
Quick wins to improve candidate experience can be achieved by giving hiring managers and all candidates – regardless of whether they were successful – the opportunity to give feedback.

This information can help companies improve their processes, help teams make the case for investment in new technology or resources, and inform talent acquisition strategy further down the line.

At Cielo, we track qualitative metrics – such as hiring manager satisfaction, the quality of hire and candidate experience – to identify areas for improvement and inform future strategy. This has helped us reduce recruitment costs and achieve a 96 percent new-hire satisfaction rate for specific partner organisations.

Consider technology to streamline talent acquisition
Scheduling interviews is a common pain point in talent acquisition, so investigating what technology is available to automate different parts of the process will save significant time and energy.

At Cielo, we have exclusive technology that helps our team save an average of nine minutes for every interview they schedule. Our recruiters might interview 10 to 30 people to pull together a good shortlist for our clients, so that’s a potential 4.5 hours per placement.

The important questions to ask when thinking about automation are: how will this technology help the team, hiring manager, stakeholder and candidate?

The technology chosen needs to enhance the process for all parties involved, and integrate easily into your talent acquisition process.

Be proactive, not reactive
Sourcing candidates in a timely and cost-effective way was another challenge faced by our survey respondents. Only 34 percent of HR professionals working in financial services said they felt their talent acquisition functions were extremely effective at innovating to meet the demands of the business. Further, only 30 percent felt their talent acquisition functions were generating useful insight.

Once a job offer is accepted, it is important to maintain engagement, as this is actually one of the most high-risk stages of the recruitment process

Even our study’s high impact talent acquisition functions have a strong reliance on recruitment agencies, with 72 percent relying on them to fill more than 80 percent of their roles. This all indicates the sector is still approaching talent acquisition in a reactive, rather than proactive, way.

By taking a long view, however, organisations can be prepared for the future. Building and maintaining talent pools made up of qualified prospective candidates, for example, ensures there are ready-made relationships to build on when a recruitment need arises. Cielo’s exclusive technology allows recruiters to build customised talent pools automatically, by taking in a number of characteristics such as language, availability and certification.

Review third-party partnerships
Interestingly, 37 percent of respondents that work with a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider outperformed their peers in our survey. Talent acquisition functions that have a partnership with an RPO are 49 percent more likely to score as high impact in our maturity model.

Of the companies we surveyed, the average profit margin of organisations that scored as low impact on our matrix was 18.75 percent, while companies with high impact talent acquisition functions had an average profit margin of 41.94 percent – a considerable difference.

Of course, talent acquisition strategy is not the only contributing factor to a company’s profitability, but our research suggests it should be considered as a core element. Speaking to an RPO, therefore, could reap dividends.

Remember candidates become employees
Talent acquisition is only the first stage in a candidate’s journey. Once an offer is accepted, it is important to maintain engagement, as this is actually one of the most high-risk stages of the process. After putting the energy into winning new talent, employers need a clear process for passing a candidate to the relevant on-boarding team; a clear on-boarding strategy is imperative to retaining the best quality talent.

In today’s competitive and unpredictable market, taking a strategic and nuanced approach to finding the right talent for your business makes sense. Filling roles with people who have the right skills and are personally suited to your organisation’s values and culture has a profound impact on productivity and profitability – something no ambitious company should ignore.

It takes a blend of strategic acumen, forward thinking and storytelling with the right data to deliver high impact talent acquisition functions, but the results for your business are well worth the effort.