Taking inspiration from the quote ‘Never let a serious crisis go to waste’ (initially said by Churchill and more relevantly Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel during the financial crash in 2008), I am interested in discussing what potentially positive outcomes for talent in the investment sector could arise from the challenges experienced during the last 6 months.
Early on, the investments sector seemed to swiftly adapt to the implementation of their continuity plans, challenged with the fact that most continuity plans are typically reserved for shorter term crises came the obstacles spanning tech, cyber security and investor relations.
There was an increase in conference calls and time spent digitally managing the concerns of worried investors. What this and the above have led many firms to is an investment in digital infrastructure, cyber security and digital tools to strengthen their investor relations model in absence of face to face meetings.
According to several investment management firms, trading operations across the sector have been working relatively well virtually. Despite the likes of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and many more operating at around 20% of staff in offices on a rotation. But the return to the office still seems to be on the minds of many.
A survey by Alternative Asset Management Association found that firms with smaller headcounts are more confident in returning to work offices, resuming client contact and potentially even travel overseas early next year. Larger firms are more reluctant, indicating that smaller firms may have a competitive advantage from less complicated operating models and greater flexibility. That said, more established firms are better placed to attract talent and capital.
Based on those results and in the case of most of us staying at home for the foreseeable, what I assume many HR leaders will have on their agenda of dozens of issues currently is the impact on team building and dilution of culture from prolonged time at home. Which according to a survey by the AIMA and KMPG (covering the global hedge fund sector specifically), is a key concern of more than 55% of managers.
That said, of the same group surveyed almost two thirds believe that the flexibility gained by employees working remotely is a positive for the long term.
Tom Kehoe, AIMA’s Global Head of Research and Communications said “Investment in smart sourcing and enabling hybrid working practices will not only improve efficiency but also prioritises employee wellbeing. Ultimately this should benefit an industry that will emerge stronger and more diverse to sustain its future growth.”
I know from experience that long inflexible hours are a key inhibitor to talent attraction in the sector. So, with flexible working patterns potentially becoming the ‘norm’, the talent pool for roles would increase and I believe put the investments sector up a notch in hiring competition.
As Tom Kehoe mentions above, it would also increase diversity which should really be a key concern and perhaps increasingly so since Nikhil Rathi (CEO of the FCA) has warned financial companies that the watchdog could block senior hires if the ‘miserable progress’ they’ve made on diversity doesn’t improve.
It’s good to see how already a very hard time for the sector and everyone working in it has shown the incredible innovation and resilience that could shape hiring strategies and work environments for the better.