Paul Website Page Executive Financial Services

When I first stepped into the recruitment and financial services industry over a quarter-century ago, I heard whispers that recruitment was a dying field — destined to be eclipsed by technology. Fast forward to today, and it's clear just how wrong that idea was. I've seen monumental shifts, from the fall of financial giants in 2008 to the rise of fintechs in recent years. And if there's one lesson I've learned, it's that this industry is anything but static. 

By Paul Webster, Managing Partner Page Executive

So, what’s new as we head into 2024? I want to dig deeper into the escalating complexity of the talent landscape, the role of adaptability in today's job market, and the disruptive influence of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence. Above all, I'd like to highlight what truly sets Page Executive apart in this dynamic field — the human touch that shapes our approach to executive recruitment.

Redefining the ‘perfect candidate’: how the talent equation shifts in 2024

Traditional banks once dominated the financial talent pool, attracting graduates to stable, lucrative careers. Today, banks face stiff competition from private equity firms, hedge funds, asset management firms and fintechs.

This diversification of career options has complicated the talent landscape. We're not just talking about competing for fresh graduates anymore; we're talking about retaining seasoned professionals who are being lured away by promises of innovation and disruptive thinking elsewhere. 
Page Executive gets it. We don't just focus on qualifications or professional pedigree. We look at a candidate's wider skill set — adaptability, digital literacy, entrepreneurial thinking and so on. The world has changed, and so has the blueprint for the perfect candidate. 

The global talent market and the need for flexibility   

Thinking globally is crucial in executive recruitment today. Borders don’t limit us. The most exceptional talent may reside thousands of miles from your corporate HQ. 

I recently worked with an overseas family launching a private equity firm in the United States. What set them apart was their willingness to hire a CEO from anywhere in the country, offering flexible work arrangements and a relocation package that included housing and schooling. 

This flexible approach wasn’t about making my life easy. It was about expanding the client’s access to top executive talent across the U.S. The flexibility also made the company more appealing to candidates, showcasing its open-minded and progressive culture. We ended up finding a candidate who was not only a perfect fit skill-wise but also an excellent match for the family’s culture and vision.

Looking ahead, flexibility in recruitment will become even more vital. At Page Executive, we're committed to helping organisations embrace this forward-thinking approach, ensuring that you're not just keeping pace with what candidates are seeking, but staying one step ahead.

From periphery to centre: DE&I and ESG

DE&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) have moved from the sidelines to the core of financial services. ESG has evolved beyond mere eco-friendliness, influencing risk management and strategic planning. It's about business viability in a world that increasingly values good governance and social impact. Likewise, DE&I has grown beyond surface initiatives, focusing instead on breaking down systemic barriers to foster inclusive workplaces where everyone can thrive.

The real hurdle? Getting the word out. Despite being pioneers in ESG and DE&I, banks and financial institutions often don't get the recognition they deserve. In 2024, I’m excited to see how these organisations close the gap between their innovative actions and public perception.

Transitioning from the digital to the multichannel age

I'm experienced enough to remember when walking into a bank was the primary way to manage your finances. Now, banks are taking cues from tech giants like Amazon, eBay and Meta. These firms have set new standards in customer engagement across multiple platforms — from the ease of online auctions to immersive experiences in virtual reality spaces like the Metaverse.

Just like Amazon, eBay and Meta, banks understand that they need to diversify their customer interaction points. This extends to embracing innovations like decentralized finance platforms and blockchain-based services. Their goal? To offer a multi-layered, seamless customer experience that competes with the convenience offered by leading tech companies.

Then there’s Artificial Intelligence. AI is more than a high-tech novelty; it’s a pivotal force that will reshape financial services in 2024. Already, it's enhancing security through advanced fraud detection and elevating customer service with smart chatbots. But AI's impact goes beyond operational efficiencies. The emerging concept of 'Responsible AI' could usher in an era of transparent decision-making. This means deploying AI systems that are explainable, fair and aligned with human values so that they serve the best interests of both financial institutions and consumers.

AI will also help us build more diverse teams. By using machine learning tools that can identify and mitigate unconscious bias in recruitment, we can create a workforce that reflects varied backgrounds, talents and perspectives. That’s good for the financial services industry and for society at large.

What do these emerging trends mean for executive search? The game has changed. It’s not just about financial know-how anymore. We need professionals with tech smarts, foresight and the agility to thrive in an environment where the rules are still being written. Whether you're a traditional financial institution or an innovative fintech, Page Executive can connect you with professionals who not only get where you’re coming from but also where you’re headed.

The human factor: why it matters

Financial services might look like a numbers game to outsiders, but the pandemic underscored the importance of the human factor. Traits like resilience, adaptability and empathy are hard to quantify, but are vital for an organisation’s long-term success.

What does this mean for banking and financial services recruitment? When I’m on the hunt for standout leaders, I zero in on qualities that go beyond the resume, including:  

  • Relationship building: Expertise in markets and investments is just the starting point for finance executives. They also need the finesse to engage effectively with stakeholders, including team members, investors and regulators, building trust and rapport along the way.
  • Emotional intelligence: The ability to read and respond to the emotional needs and cues of both team members and clients is invaluable. High EQ can help manage conflict, improve communication and foster a collaborative culture.
  • Crisis management: Recent times have shown how quickly crises can unfold. Being able to lead a team confidently and make informed decisions under pressure is an essential trait for anyone in a leadership role.

The financial world is changing rapidly, and the definition of the ‘perfect candidate’ is evolving with it. If you’re as passionate about succeeding in this new climate of innovation and change as we are, we’d love to explore the possibilities with you. Reach out to Page Executive and let us help you find your next exceptional leader.

> Contact Paul Webster
> Discover more about Financial Services at Page Executive

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