With the demise of the job for life, companies are increasingly recruiting older individuals changing career as a way to ensure a more diverse pool of talent than would be achieved by solely hiring graduates.
John Spiers, EQ Investors’ chief executive, says tapping into this market is one way to alleviate the difficulty of hiring good staff, lessening reliance on the annual scrabble to scoop up the best graduates.
While the firm does already run a graduate intern programme that can result in permanent appointments, and recruits graduates of the Spear programme, an initiative run by the Resurgo charity that provides training for young unemployed people, Spiers casts his net wider.
Having many talented graduates coming on board is a positive, he says, but there remains a shortage of advisers in the industry, and sometimes putting inexperienced youth in front of clients can be a challenge in itself.
‘It’s good that they are highly qualified, but it’s difficult having 30-year-olds sit down with the 60-year-old partner of a law firm,’ Spiers (pictured above) said.’ They’ve got the qualifications, but not the life experience.’
Taking a new path
This prompted him to set up an academy for individuals in their 40s who are looking to change their life path. This group, he points out, has life knowledge, but also other valuable abilities.
‘We can train them. They have already got the interpersonal skills and life experience, which is a unique combination of skills you need. You need some sales skills, but you also need a good bedside manner and to be able to build trust,’ she added.
‘You’ll never build trust at a first meeting, but you can lose it. So you need people with drive and patience.’
With an overall annual intake of some 20 people, the AFH Group is of the same train of thought.
In addition to its two-year graduate scheme, last October the financial planner launched what it has branded the veteran career programme, a year-long academy for people who have left the army and want to work in the investment industry.
The aim of the initiative, which currently has three trainees on board, is for everyone going through the process to be hired upon graduation either as an adviser or in a field that better suits their interests and talents.
‘We recognise the banks no longer have significant training programmes,’ said head of business development Dawn Walker-Bennett (pictured above). ‘We need more advisers and we need to look for them in different ways.
Although the firm finds it important to attract graduates, it says it also values the transferable skills of older professionals switching careers, especially those with a military background. ‘We want to facilitate the transition from a military to civil environment,’ he said.
A leap of faith?
Through recruiting career-changers in a less structured way, WH Ireland shares the view that those taking the leap of faith to change professions can offer certain skills youngsters lack due to inexperience.
The wealth manager says that recruiting individuals from both groups is important for the firm’s diversity policy, but also helps to create a balanced workforce that is both inclusive and reflective of its client base.
Head of human resources Richard Fuller says the company’s graduate intake offers long-term succession planning and is a great source of fresh, new ideas.
Meanwhile, career-change candidates can offer a wide variety of experience and are often flexible about the roles which they are prepared to perform.
‘While it may be challenging to navigate through graduate applications and organise multiple assessment days, assessment centres are a useful approach to ensure you secure candidates who embody and share our cultural and corporate values,’ he said.
‘For some of the more experienced candidates, qualifying for the regulatory standard can be a little daunting, however we believe with help and support they can be nurtured through the process.’
Looking for the experts
Elsewhere, Tilney’s recruiting preferences place a particular focus on experienced financial planners, investment managers and investment advisers.
‘We benefit from their experience in helping and maintaining client relationships,’ said head of financial planning Andy Grant.
Recruiting mid-career professionals, who have experience in a field outside of financial services, but have never worked in the industry before, only happens on an ad hoc basis.
The firm also has an intake of young talent but no standardised graduate training programme in place.
More recent graduates are thrown in at the deep end and learn on the job. They might initially join to support an established adviser, while at the same time studying and taking exams with the firm’s support.
Alternatively, they could start out in other functions, such as providing telephone guidance, or in service delivery and para-planning roles.
‘We want to recruit the best talent, so we don’t restrict ourselves to one end of the spectrum or the other, but we don’t have an induction programme,’ Grant said.
‘Our training and development resources are available to all staff.’