The Problem With Recruitment…

Interviewed Company: Somet Recruitment


Interview Monday 3rd July 2017

Interview with Owen Jobling and Paul Adkins

Subjects: recruitment, fintech, disruption

The problem of recruitment is a real one for tech and fintech, and the problem of retention equally so. Indeed, frequently the hiring success of one company is the retention failure of another.

“Let’s explore ways of helping fintech leaders in how they attract and retain the talent they utterly depended on for their expansion.”

Recruitment as a whole can be quite lengthy… some of the tech hires are critical and can take months. They need to ensure the right hire, the wrong hire at wrong time can be very disruptive. Anecdotally, it seems some fintechs really start churning talent when they reach a certain size, typically we think around 60 employees. Is this due to the recruitment retention problem? Possibly. One thing is for certain, talent churn is a problem for companies, and a sign of on some level dissatisfaction for employees.

Fintnews: Why do employees leave? Here’s some thoughts on that.

To ‘do their own thing’… frequently setting up their own company…This is definitely an issue, as a percentage it’s probably not possible to acquire statistics, however, anecdotally it is definitely a cause of staff leaving startups, including fintech startups. As most fintech founders themselves left a financial services roles to ‘do their own thing’ it’s not entirely surprising they in turn inspire others to do the same.

To earn more … definitely an issue, especially for developers, especially in London…supply and demand of developer talent is the underlying cause of recruitment and retention difficulties. The dynamic of this is firmly in favour of the developers, they pretty much have their pick of which fintech / startup / scale up to work for, the flow of talent has many options, least resistance + highest remuneration being the most probable attractants.

To move to a more exciting project. Developers like challenges, intellectually engaging creative projects. They need change. Can change be delivered without them changing job? Clever people often get bored easily.

To move to a more exciting company. Some companies have a buzz. What is that buzz? Culture? Maybe there’s 25 guys working in the company and 2 women. Think diversity is just for the ethics? Diversity creates culture. Culture creates buzz. Buzz attracts and retains talent?

To move up the ladder. Marketing consultant becomes marketing manager somewhere else… what are you going to do?

To move to a different geography. Ahhh Brexit. How helpful of you…Brexit Disrupts Recruitment + Retention = What’s New?

Fintnews: Somet tell me:

“From our experience companies are very concerned about immigration rules regarding Brexit … there’s already a skills shortage without a brain drain … is that happening… yes absolutely…It’s becoming more problematic identifying potential employees, …. declining numbers from Europe…. salaries in tech are already higher than average… with an ever competitive war for talent… this will only continue to drive salaries up… the ability to attract skilled professionals from Europe is now questionable… Now London is uncertain and other EU cities are more attractive…”

“We are seeing that in many areas in technology … developers … cyber sec… reluctance to consider the UK…We are focussed on the human aspect of the talent rather than geography… Europe wide clients, market is UK Continental EU and USA… specialists like ourselves…Brexit does mean there’s a greater need to utilise our services for critical hires, when a company receives a round of funding recruitment costs for recruitment companies is not high on their agenda but if we are seeing a reduction in supply of staff this will increase competition for talent and increased competitive advantage is what we provide”.

Fintnews: Looking at the macro problem, the bigger picture, the question is, where to get the talent from? Do ‘we’ as a country (UK) poach it from someone else by paying more and having a more attractive culture? This works in practice on a company level, and a country level. It’s not a very holistic approach though. And does nothing to address the cause of the problem in the first place. It simply moves the problem from one company to another, or one country to another. Of course this does disrupt the countries from whom we poach, and rather passes the buck to them in terms of fixing the skills shortage.

If Universities were aligned with the real market place, i.e. the one that actually exists in real time rather than in the memory of course leaders, could we ‘fix’ the skills shortage within a couple of years? Universities are, I think, moving away from the position of ‘academia is for academias sake’ and starting to acknowledge the commercial reality. Students are investing in their education, literally to the tune of £30,000 or more, and the Universities have a clear obligation to provide them with skills that directly interface with the market place in order for the students to realise a fair return on their investment. Problem is, everyone wants skills and talent NOW, not in two years time. They’ll be wanting it in two years as well, for this exact reason.

Fintnews: Is anybody looking at increasing the actual talent pool? I ask because there seems to be a leak in the pool, (Brexit) and more and more companies trying to scoop from it. If companies only focus on scooping what they can from it rather than replenishing it, they’re in a very competitive and probably unsustainable position. Surely it can’t be that difficult to interface Universities, who are basically talent factories, with Companies who literally can’t get enough of the outputted talent.

The challenge is the disconnect, and monetising a bridge across it.

Further reading:

The Solution To Fintech Recruitment? (2/2)


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