The war on talent. Recruitment is hard so retaining talent is crucial

Financial Advisory

13 October 2022

CompetitionCustomerFinancial AdvisoryRecruitmentStrategyTalentWinning Advisers

Expert: Sanna Jordannson Facilitator: Svenja Keller


  1. Most companies struggle to find and attract talent at the moment
  2. Building an employer brand through clearly defining, articulating and living values, and creating an inclusive and flexible culture is an important factor when it comes to attracting talent
  3. Employees are currently in good negotiating positions, which can lead to high salary demands and requests for significant flexibility
  4. It takes continuous effort to retain talent



There was consensus in the room that finding and attracting talent is difficult in the current climate. It is important to note that finding talent is different from attracting talent.

Most firms struggle with both, as they are not receiving many CVs in the first place, and then enter a competitive market for the small number of candidates available.

The company website is often the first place candidates look, and it is therefore important to present the advice firm authentically. However, it is also helpful for senior staff to work on personal PR as candidates will be mainly looking at the individuals within an organisation to find living proof of the stated values.

Timing plays a role in recruitment, and can be a difficult component. Sometimes, the right people are not available when advice firms need them and sometimes, advisers find more people than they have roles for.

Some firms would be open to hiring opportunistically when they meet talented people that fit well into the team, as long as growth plans support it. 

Possible strategies to reduce bottlenecks in finding talent when they urgently need them are to maintain a regular dialogue with potential candidates, to network not just for prospective clients but also for prospective candidates, and to cast the net wide when the time comes to recruit. The latter could involve asking staff (or even clients, although this avenue has not yet been tested and comes with risks) for leads and having a consistent and strategic approach to social media over many weeks.

Getting the interviews right is important. Once candidates have been identified, it is important to attract them to the organisation but also to select the most suitable individuals. There was consensus in the room that attitude is more important than skill as the latter can be taught, whereas the former would be difficult to change.

Various tips and best practices were shared for interviewing candidates: who interviews candidates is important – involve the team and see the candidate multiple times (ideally with one person meeting the candidate twice to check consistency).

Psychometric tests were not considered helpful tools to determine someone’s personality and fit for the wider team. Instead, it was suggested that candidates are asked questions about life and interests to get a feel for what they are like when they relax, as well as how they answer questions they may not necessarily have prepared for.

It was seen as important to let the candidate speak for most of the time. Interviewing is considered a skill and it is important to prepare properly for interviews to maximise success. This should include clearly defining internally what type of candidate the firm is looking for and needs – not everyone can be a high performer, steady and reliable staff is equally important for the culture of the team and for clients.

The third element of talent management is retention. Companies often make a great effort to attract staff but then fail to continue with demonstrating values and providing growth and development opportunities. It is important to have open and honest conversations about progression with employees as soon as they join the firm. This does not mean that they need to be promoted quickly – it is more about clarity, transparency and understanding what the employee wants to achieve.

In this process, it is important to manage both employer and employee expectations. Smaller advice firms may struggle to provide progression to every employee, but it was felt that open and honest conversations are still very important. In addition, growth and personal development can be achieved in different ways and it is good to understand what the employee wants. Sometimes, it is inevitable for employees to move on to seek growth or even a salary increase (in particular in the current cost of living crisis). Generational trends were also discussed in this context and firms accept that the current trend is to move employers more often, in particular at the start of a career.

Having one toxic person in the team can be very disruptive and therefore impact the entire company. In order to retain good people, it is important to swiftly address poor performance and bad behaviours. If a new joiner turns out not to be the right fit, or is underdelivering compared to what was discussed in the interviews, it was felt that it is better to address this early on, during their probationary period, to avoid a lengthy process and impact on the wider team at a later stage. In addition, if good employees witness that poor performance or bad behaviours are not challenged, they could become demoralised and demotivated.


Key takeaways:

  • It is important to understand that finding talent, attracting good candidates and retaining well performing staff are three different things. Having a strategy for all three of them can help to ensure that recruitment and retention are positive experiences that will add to the company’s success
  • Executing these strategies well is a crucial part of the recruitment and retention success of a company. This includes defining values and an employer brand, articulating and living these values, and building a personal profile for managers, as people buy into people. This process is continuous and it is therefore important to make it sustainable over the long term
  • If attitude is more important than skill, adviser firms can look to other industries for non-regulated and non-technical staff. Many individuals will have transferrable skills, such as good customer service and communication. Having a wider base of potential candidates can also help to introduce more diversity into the industry and new entrants to plug the gap from retiring advisers