War on Talent - Recruitment is hard so retaining talent is crucial

Wealth Management and Private Banking

17 November 2022

FlexibilityHybridMeeting of MindsRecruitmentTalentWealth managementWealth Management and Private Banking

Expert: Mark Somers Facilitator: Caroline Burkhart


  1. The WM community is an older community but traditionally has lower turnover
  2. Flexibility is key for keeping people in the industry
  3. The hybrid model remains very attractive however and most firms are adopting this but cultural considerations come in to play in various different countries
  4. Things are going to get more difficult, not specifically in wealth but with employment as a whole that may lead to less options and less flexibility for employees, taking the heat out of the market
  5. In the war for talent, younger employees’ expectations are perhaps unrealistic compared to what the older generations have experienced.


The Great Resignation is not something that has really occurred in Wealth Management/Private Banking. It was firstly defined by the phenomenon of people leaving the business and not returning. Older individuals continue to leave the business but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

It was felt that the wealth industry has not experienced ‘a great resignation’. Flex is appreciated and used but it was felt there was a degree of flex already and presenteeism was not prominent, people are judged on their performance.

One delegate gave an example of where turnover has occurred but was not necessarily a bad thing. They had lost mature colleagues but turnover has now reduced. More options are now in place for employees to flex.

There are patterns around certain roles – in tech specifically, where pay rises have occurred to retain talent, particularly in the US, and the flexibility is very attractive r.e. working from home most of the time, but this is not as prevalent in the UK. There are many options but more options are available in the US. There are patterns in certain roles e.g., tech – coders.

With hybrid working, several examples were given on how individuals had been able to remain in or return to the industry based on flexibility offered by firms around lifestyle and personal circumstances, going back several years. It is not common but there are good examples of how that flex has been accommodated and as a result of the pandemic this is increasing. An obvious example is working mothers, but working fathers are increasingly able to flex their working practices and this improves employee engagement. However, getting the hybrid model working can be confusing and unfair on certain staff, e.g., offices are much emptier on a Monday and Friday.

It is also more difficult for younger staff who need to learn and need more experienced staff around. It’s difficult to dictate days. One delegate felt that we have moved on to a generation where entitlement is more prominent and that we are losing the culture a little along with efficiency and effectiveness, meaning hybrid is not working. He appreciated that it was a controversial view and another delegate pointed out that it really depended on a role. If a consultant spends all day on calls, why not do these from the home

An individual’s function has some bearing on hybrid work, it is easier to manage the existing workforce but the problem comes when trying to recruit. The same cannot apply across all roles.

A responsible individual will ensure they can get the work completed within an agreed timeline e.g., tell us what suits and we’ll pay you accordingly – there are ways to reward for attendance.

Is there a move to a model to pay for the hours you want to do? Is this practical? It’s easier for consultants etc rather than banks and wealth managers. But the market is also driven by regulations and how these can affect an individual’s working day. 

Delegates felt the hybrid model was less of a problem for the existing workforce and more a problem when trying to recruit for new talent.  Delegates have seen abuse of the system with the workforce and this has led to problems with individuals taking advantage of the situation.

However, resignations can sometimes be quite healthy. RMs are stickier, they can only move 2-3 times, but overall firms are seeing junior staff turnover, driven by salaries. Some huge markups in salary are being offered by banks to attract young staff that the incumbent bank cannot compete with. Graduates in particular are seeing huge salaries paid to move.

Firms are investing and spending a lot of money training, but it is difficult to anchor and keep individuals in roles. It’s also hard to align to other roles. From a WM point of view, graduate and more junior staff are more difficult to retain. Many grads now expect or want to have time out.

Having been given this, does it make it more attractive for them to return to the same employer – does it engender loyalty?

There are different incentives in the war for talent, in terms of pay, career progression, flex, benefits, which can all be flexed to attract and retain individuals. One delegate gave an example of how, once an individual had completed 3 years as an analyst, the next step to becoming an RM was years in the making, which could be frustrating, so the business offered other opportunities around the firm including abroad, to introduce more variety and to keep the individual engaged with learning that added to their life experiences.

Another delegate questioned whether this process was unrealistic in terms of expectations and retention. But several felt it enhanced the individual’s capital. However, becoming a good banker or RM takes time, as do several other roles e.g., a lawyer, and it’s a question of doing the time, to build up a network, contacts, intellectual capital, to be able to do the job at a more senior level.

We are possibly at a crossroads with economic conditions likely changing significantly in the next 6-12 months, which could change the whole talent picture.

The conversation then moved to talking about recruiting from other sectors, not necessarily for regulated roles, but an example was given of a where a new CEO came in from outside the industry. Also, the question was raised through an example of whether the industry needs to attract people with more emphasis on different skill sets e.g., more emphasis on EQ for dealing with clients rather than IQ.

One firm has had success recruiting from ex-military personnel so certain niche recruits can work. Looking at different roles, it was then asked if roles such as marketing could be done differently or better with different recruits. There was general agreement that marketing could be done much better within the sector and another delegate gave an example of where their relatively young digital marketing recruits were really challenging the business to think differently about how they got their message out to clients.

The question was then asked how sales/business development and marketing could work more efficiently together to generate business. It was suggested that a good admin assistant is required but of course using tech e.g., Salesforce should be used as a strong support tool for RMs, rather than relying on humans as so much can be done efficiently through good use of technology. Also, the business is all about trust and it was opined that it is actually quite difficult to market trust. Wealth professionals are not natural sales people or indeed business developers. 

If firms want to effect change within the industry, the marketing role can be used much more effectively. A marketing officer could be used to track leads and feed these through back into the business to be followed up. These could be used to bring back into the sector talented females. Delegates felt this hypothesis could possibly be used effectively more at the mass-market level but it would be very dependent on the firm’s business model.

Anyone joining or returning to the industry was reliant on contacts and their network to succeed. Between the UHNW and Mass Market – returning person’s leads were more interesting from the business development perspective and it was agreed that either a good network or professional credibility was required to build a book – 2 most viable options. It was also important to match up the right person to the relationship.

Some firms specialise in specific niches and networks to promote business. We need to think outside the box more in terms of recruitment to meet the needs of all WMs looking to hire.

Key takeaways:

  • Firms are going to need to think a bit more outside the box to continue to recruit successfully in a market where good talent is increasingly hard to find
  • It will be important to support good recruits with good tech and support so that they can leverage their network effectively
  • The regulated nature of the market means there is less flex than in other professions to hire from outside the industry into senior roles
  • The marketing function can and should be used much more effectively to support good talent in the sales process