December is a month for friends and family, and for giving. This year, I was approached by a contact in the industry and was ask to help an old friend of his, someone who might have some useful skills for my clients. When I moved across to Luxembourg, Ignites and several news outlets ran the story on my move, partly because it was AIFMD-related, and the gentleman he knew had some experience of AIFMD.
My contact suggested how we could split the fee, in case of success. Being a generous and kind sort of gang, we do like to say thanks to those who help us on our way. This is usually by way of an iPod nano, rather than percentages, and I was more than a little taken aback by the suggestion.
Resting the whole case:
This hit home, once again, the huge disparity between the average person’s perception of a good recruiter, and the reality of what we actually do, and I do feel it is important to stick up for good recruiters. I can’t think of any other industry where someone could so easily assume half of the fee for doing almost nothing. It is like asking a lawyer to advise you, but then only paying them if the one clause or comment they find, rests the whole case. It is absolutely ridiculous to think that one CV is going to be enough, even if it is perfection. I have been doing my job for 8 years now and I have never made a placement from a single CV on its own.
The ‘right’ answer:
Recruitment is not about finding one person, it is about finding a solution. Just as with law, there will be many adaptations of what the ‘right’ answer is. Think of AIFMD, causing so much discussion today, based largely on the fact that no one can entirely agree on what it means. This however does not mean that companies don’t hire a lawyer at all, favouring to try and get secondary advice from friends, given that each lawyer will tell you something different. No, companies will find a lawyer or law firm who they feel understands them and their business the most, and then will work alongside them, to tease out the right meaning for their structure, knowing that the whole process is a journey of discovery that will make the advice, the best and most suitable advice for the firm. Without the process being carried out through each phase, you can’t get to the right answer. Without a decent recruitment process, and all the re-aligning that it will take, you are playing with lady luck to try and hire the right person.
Giving us more commitment, gives you better results:
This is the fundamental reason that asking recruiters to work outside of a retained mandate arrangement is a wild goose chase. Asking the person to work for free until they might just so happen upon the perfect person. Hmm. Who could provide really amazing results not knowing whether they will be paid at the end? A gambler? Perhaps. Sometimes companies think they will increase their chances of finding the right person by giving the job to several agencies. More agencies means more chances to find the best candidate. Not so. After the initial burst of energy, from which you rarely get a result, you have several recruiters who don’t know you very well, each giving you a smaller percentage of their commitment and of their time. Ultimately they refocus their energy on other clients who treat them as partners. Recruitment can be a long and hard process, and having one committed firm by your side will give you far more than having 3 firms who will soon lose interest in your needs. Asking recruitment companies to work alongside one another is inviting them to approach your crucial hiring decision on the basis of speed — instead on the basis of who can do the best quality job.
Time and effort makes a good process, and a good hire:
The groundwork involved in a proper recruitment process, talking to many passively and actively-looking candidates, is incredibly time-consuming and potentially very risky for us. In a typical recruitment process at Funds Partnership for every 5 CVs we present to a client there are at least another 20-30 candidates in the background. It is the large numbers of ‘almost suitable’ but unseen profiles, whose CVs will never see the light of day, that turns a hiring process into a successful hire. The large numbers of people that we consider from our network, but who don’t make the shortlist for any reason, is what makes our final selection particularly strong. If you only consider 10 people, and put 5 of those forwards, it’s pretty low chances any of them will work out. If you multiply this, and consider both those actively looking as well as those who are not actively looking, but whose skills best suit the role perfectly, then you have a solid chance of covering the whole market and the chances are you will find an amazing candidate who will love the job.
Sourcing from the whole market:
Even for a contingency agency, the big advertisers online who don’t rely as much on the industry network, there is a huge amount of work that goes into putting forward good CVs.
Seeing as we focus on both contingency and on search techniques, we are lot more proactive in selecting the people we think are right, not just those who happen to be available. This means our first mapping phase can take 2-4 weeks, depending on the role. In that time it is not unusual not to have a single CV generated. But it is this process which yields the most value to our clients, so this is why we do it. By having a vast knowledge of the Asset Management / Asset Servicing industry, we can accurately identify where suitable people with un-tapped potential will be. Working exclusively with clients gives us the time to tap into theentire talent pool. More than 70% of the candidates in our network are not actively looking, and this means it takes an interesting, above market, role in order to attract them.
The tip of the iceberg:
Ironically when you are working with a good recruiter, it is even easier to take their background research process for granted. The machine is so well-oiled that you don’t hear the cogs turning. If they only present 5 CVs it does not mean they have only spoken to 5 people. If the recruiter has done their job right, every CV presented is someone who will be invited for interview. I have taken to sending certain clients times along with new CVs, because I know they will want to meet certain people already. Just because we make it look easy it does not mean that it is. What you are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.
When your assets under management are more than just numbers:
Every firm on the planet will tell you their people are their main asset. When it comes to the most important part of people management, the people, some companies still seem to have a problem to spend good money on finding the right person. Hiring well is much more important than managing well, if you start out with the wrong person, you can never turn them into something they are not. Worse, if you hire a bad egg, it can spoil the whole batch.
When working with companies who manage other people’s assets, private wealth…when working with pension funds whose investors are all of us, and our children’s futures, would it not be sensible to set aside a fee to hire a good team, properly? When every conference I attend one of the main topics that come up every single time, is always finding the right people, I simply don’t understand the disconnect. In setting up funds or asset management products, we all know the cost of lawyers, accountants, IT service providers, data managers, and all other matter required. But… people? Some firms with legal fees in the hundreds of thousands, office locations systems in the millions, will struggle to pay a good recruiter a fee that is in the tens, and I really don’t see the sense in that. Good hiring is a gift, and having a good recruiter by your side does not cost you, it saves you in the end.
Author: Rana Hein-Hartmann is Director EMEA of Funds Partnership, a specialist firm for mid-senior hires in Asset Management and Asset Servicing operating throughout Europe and Asia.