Michael Giraud and Steve Gully offer recruitment advice for attracting staff with the experience necessary for specialist trust work.
A Trust company's most important asset is its people, who not only service the existing client base, but also collectively drive the business forward. Their expert knowledge and experience, coupled with their ability to work as a team, form the bedrock of a successful trust company.
Working with trusts is a specialist area, which can make ﬁnding candidates who have the right level of practical experience and technical knowledge diﬃcult. Administering a structure, even a simple trust and company, is complex, and this makes the recruitment of able and collaborative staﬀ all the more important. How are businesses coping with this, and what are the challenges they face when recruiting?
HR teams must provide a robust hiring process that ensures new faces both complement and enhance the existing team. They should make use of both digital media – such as LinkedIn, which can drive traﬃc towards vacancies – and traditional methods, such as engaging with select recruitment agencies to ensure that the most suitable candidates are put forward.
A business is, unfortunately, able to control only part of the recruitment process. Elements such as the constitution of the talent pool are beyond a company’s control. The local talent pool is a signiﬁcant contributor to the hiring process, and the larger and more diverse it is, the better for the trust company. However, access to another jurisdiction’s workforce, through the company’s internal and external network, is equally important. A number of factors aﬀect the constitution of the talent pool, such as geographical isolation, size of the population, poor infrastructure, a transient workforce, limited access to property markets, and the restrictive work-permit regulations of certain international ﬁnancial centres.
Companies in less established jurisdictions may ﬁnd recruiting more diﬃcult, and that success correlates with the strength and depth of the ﬁnance industry, its familiarity with modern trust administration, and the ease with which the jurisdiction can attract a skill set. This diﬃculty is compounded during periods of high growth.
The expense associated with ﬁnding the right candidate is signiﬁcant, given the high recruitment costs when using agents. As such, a company should do all it can to build a strong reputation in the market so that it is considered an employer of choice. It is vital that the company has an ownership model that cultivates a stable and healthy working environment, with longevity at its core, that encourages group ownership and an alignment of interests. It is also important to treat staﬀfairly, with a competitive remuneration package and a supportive team environment free of organisational politics. Once a company has achieved this, it will have access to a disproportionate share of the local, and specialist international, talent pool.
In terms of candidate groups, ﬁrms may choose to invest in school leavers and graduates. This is an attractive option that allows a company to invest in and train an individual who will, in all likelihood, be aligned to the business culture. There is, however, a signiﬁcant ﬁnancial and HR cost associated with their training, and there is always the risk that they may leave once trained and qualiﬁed. Employment contracts can mitigate that risk to some degree, but the non-monetary cost of training and mentoring trainees cannot be reclaimed. That said, there can be no disputing that time spent coaching and developing employees is worthwhile.
Firms must integrate their beliefs and values into their recruitment processes, making the identiﬁcation of the right talent easier. The goal is not simply to recruit people who have the required skills and experience, but to ﬁnd those who are passionate about a company’s mission, vision, culture and values.
The recruitment process should start by establishing whether or not a candidate’s attitude ﬁts the culture, and only then should their skill set and relevant experience be fully evaluated. If done well and with discipline, this builds a distinct environment where the company is driven by engaged leaders and supported by capable staﬀ working cohesively towards a common vision and values. This can be a key diﬀerentiator that is diﬃcult to replicate, and increases staﬀ loyalty and stability. It can also be a signiﬁcant advantage over a competitor that suﬀers from higher staﬀ turnover and, consequently, ﬂuctuating service levels.
Having the right people in a business must not be underestimated. Despite the challenges noted above, it is important for a company to be true to itself and its existing team, and not compromise its own standards simply to ﬁll a vacancy.