We can all agree that the quality and availability of talent is crucial to an organization’s success. Without the right mix of people, a firm may miss an opportunity, be forced to postpone a product launch, or lose its edge in the market.
The stakes for acquiring, engaging, and developing talent are higher than ever. This is not a revelation. But how firms are approaching this challenge and the strategies they’re employing can provide valuable insight, which is why it was a featured topic at the Boston Financial Client Forum.
Workforce trends and talent strategies took center stage during “Insights & Experiences from the Client Community,” a new segment introduced at the Forum this year. As part of the Client Forum team, I worked with the panel of industry leaders, helping develop the content for their discussion. Over the course of our planning, I gained a better sense and appreciation for the dynamics and challenges facing the industry, and the unique ways our clients are approaching them.
If you weren’t able to make it to the Forum and hear the engaging discussion that ensued, here are my top takeaways:
Expectations from new hires and expectations for new hires have changed. For instance, today’s new hires go beyond the traditional checklist of corporate benefits when considering a job. They want to make sure they’re working in an organization where there is a good fit between their core values and the organization’s values.
Likewise, organizations realize they can’t control their reputation, but they still possess tremendous power to cultivate and promote their culture. As one panelist noted, culture is first and foremost — “we always lead with culture in everything we do.”
Expectations around career advancement have also changed, most notably among younger workers. They often expect to advance quickly and often; however, the importance of a strong foundation cannot be overlooked the panel noted. It’s also not enough for managers to outline job roles and expectations, including tenure. Managers need to check-in frequently to confirm alignment on both ends.
When it comes to sourcing and retaining talent, creativity is key. Peer learning across firms, a strong internal feeder system, pitch contests, networking night outs, partnerships with local colleges, four-day work weeks are some of the inventive ways asset managers are sourcing, developing, and retaining talent.
On the service side, Boston Financial has had success in its sourcing and retaining initiatives by adopting a blended approach: a mix of age, backgrounds, and demographics.
Whether from the asset management or service side, the panelists cited the valuable role anchor associates (long-term employees) play in their organizations in helping retain institutional knowledge and managing turnover.
Whether due to retirement, attrition, or another dynamic, people leave organizations. So it wasn’t surprising that the panelists stressed the importance of being proactive around succession planning. What was interesting was hearing how the process has become more formalized, transparent, and strategic within their companies.
Trish Crockan, moderator for the panel and chief operations officer at Boston Financial, provided insight into Boston Financial’s succession planning, which includes a 3-step successor process. The process, which the firm undergoes routinely, identifies people in three distinct areas: 1) who is the emergency successor; 2) who is the immediate successor; and, 3) who can Boston Financial develop for the future and what are we doing to get them ready.
Another panelist highlighted how their succession planning at their firm goes beyond BCP/DR needs and plays a vital role in their talent management. Their program looks at how individuals line up by asking probing questions, such as: how is the person positioned to step into the role? What do they need exposure to? What skills are they lacking?
Across all industries today, companies are facing a limited supply of people — whether within their firm or the job market. The good news, firms are becoming more proactive and innovative in their talent strategies. And when done well, effective talent management can create a steady pipeline for skilled workers and tomorrow’s leaders, increase organizational agility, and ultimately provide lasting benefits to an organization. Our client panel was a case in point.