An open letter to our clients and candidates

We are living in extraordinary times, and I’m sure for all of you there are many profound changes happening within your organisation.  I wanted to update you on the plans Kea has in place, and to give you an insight into the market in general.

Kea’s response

Kea has been working from home since Friday 13th March, and we have all adapted well to our new ways of working.  The Kea team have been utilising video conferencing software to keep in touch both internally and externally, and have been encouraging our clients and candidates to do the same. We are in a fortunate position to be well situated for the months ahead, a result of our ethos of financial responsibility that stems from our inception during the height of the last financial crisis in 2009.

We are taking full advantage in the coming weeks to get even better at what we do: opening the door for great talent. The whole team is focused on:

  • Continuing to run processes with the same level of rigour and diligence
  • Developing deeper relationships with our existing candidates
  • Taking advantage of increased candidate availability to forge meaningful relationships with new, stellar candidates
  • Making sure we are even better prepared this year for the new cycle to kick off in September.

Changes to current hiring

In short, things are still very active:

  • Interviewing continues: The vast majority of the processes we are running are continuing, with some changes to the interview structure.
  • Remote interviewing: Most interviews are happening over VCC, though in certain instances in person meetings have happened as ‘walking meetings’ outside, so as to adhere to proper social distancing.
  • More candidates are interested in moving: Banks are less busy during the continued uncertainty, which has led many more of the best candidates, who had previously been too busy on transactions, to consider their options.
  • Candidates are more available to interview: Everyone is working from home with less to do than normal; interviews can now take priority.

Looking forward, reasons for optimism

An opportunity to get access to the best: We are already seeing that those of our clients who are willing to meet candidates have a greater choice. The market in recent years has been characterised by reduced candidate engagement and ever-increasing hirer demand; these drivers have reversed, meaning that, once again, it is a buyer’s market. Those who interview now will have the chance to snap up the best talent. Even if hiring is on hold, now is a great time to build relationships with the most historically in-demand candidate pools while there is reduced demand from other firms and increased engagement from candidates.

An opportunity for gender diversity to thrive: Since we started Kea 10 years ago we have been trying to encourage our clients to think about how to retain, rather than just hire, women. A survey we recently completed of female investment professionals indicated that over half of women currently investing think that there will be some conflict between their personal and professional goals over the next 4 years. The lack of agile working (working remotely) or flexible working (working different days / hours) was cited as a major problem, particularly in the context of maternity leave. The world has essentially been forced to work in an agile way, and hopefully the habits we gain in the coming months will help all organisations move toward a working environment where people can better juggle the demands of their personal and professional lives. Flexible working for parents in the investment industry is one step closer.

International talent will be easier to reach: Once we get used to video interviewing, it will no longer be a barrier that stops international candidates from being considered. Investment firms will truly have access to the best talent from all over the world.

A much needed shake up of the talent pools: It is possible that the extended period of working remotely will permanently change the way that banks and consulting firms delegate work to their juniors. Modelling and PowerPoint are workstreams from the 1990s, so far largely unaffected by offshoring and AI. Will this still be the case in September 2021? It’s worth exploring the possibility that this will not be such a crucial part of the sell-side Analyst’s skill set in the future. In this scenario, firms who are able to adapt quickest to this will be able to hire from a richer pool of much more diversified talent in the long run: once you don’t need your Analysts to be able to model at interview, there is no limit to where you might be able to find them.

We hope you stay safe (and sane!) over the coming months. Do get in touch if you would like to discuss further; Kea is happy to help.