Can Tech Workers Solve Advisors’ Talent Troubles?

Charles Paikert US Correspondent New York January 26, 2023

Can Tech Workers Solve Advisors’ Talent Troubles?

Wealth managers who think that tech workers fired from big firms such as Microsoft and Google might be a potential pool of talent must be careful to make sure that they will be a good fit.

In the wake of a wave of layoffs from Microsoft, Google parent company Alphabet and other tech firms, should wealth and asset managers facing a talent shortage consider these newly laid-off tech workers as a potential pool of new hires?

"Absolutely," says Kathy Freeman, who heads an eponymous executive search firm for financial services.

“We don’t want to lose this moment,” said Freeman, a 30-year industry veteran who has just released her firm’s annual Talent Trends Report. “This is an opportunity for wealth managers to address their staffing needs. They can celebrate the stability of their industry, in contrast to the volatility of tech, and it could be a very attractive proposition.”

Selectivity will be critical, Freeman stressed.

Many of the laid-off tech workers will be gig workers who worked remotely, Freeman said. “They’re coming from a different kind of cultural organization. Wealth managers need to be selectively looking for bright, motivated people and screen out for cultural alignment.”

Viable option?
While Grant Rawdin, president of Wescott Financial Advisory Group in Philadelphia agreed that the market for quality talent is tight, he isn’t sure whether laid-off tech workers are a viable option.

“The problem is that those people are likely to be younger, part of tech’s ‘last in, first out’ HR practice,” Rawdin said. “We’ve always looked at career changers, but found that maturity sells. We’ve had success hiring people with life experiences that clients can relate to.”

Freeman’s latest talent trends report reaffirms a longstanding industry dilemma: “firms can’t find the necessary talent to grow their companies.” 

Half of the senior executives surveyed said they can’t find the right talent in their budget, 41 per cent said they couldn’t find the right experience and 40 per cent reported not being able to find the right cultural fit.

Making the case
What’s the solution to attracting more talent?

Two-thirds of executives surveyed cited more flexible work arrangements and one-third cited enhancing compensation and bolstering training development and mentorship programs.

Financial service executives need to step up and offer younger job seekers a more inspirational vision, according to Freeman.

“They need to do a better job explaining that this is a mission-driven business and not just a paycheck,” Freeman said. “The younger generation is very altruistic and wealth management firms should focus on how what they do makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Similarly, a recent Family Wealth Report opinion piece urged executives to be more imaginative to attract a new talent pool. 

Letting job seekers know that the business involves working with creative people, solving problems, putting money to work effectively, philanthropy, travel and exposure to art, politics and culture should surely be, the author maintained, “as engrossing a career as one could have.”

Double-edged sword
Paradoxically, a hybrid office model is one of the biggest workplace enticements for young people but is also problematic for executives.

Ninety per cent of executives surveyed said their firms have adopted a hybrid office model. But half of the leaders said the out-of-the-office work environment has held back the development of NextGen talent and 43 per cent believe that hybrid work is negative for corporate culture and collaboration. 

“There is a disconnect,” Freeman said. “Young people don’t want to come in. But if you’re not in the office, you can’t listen and learn from others, especially mentors.”

Register for FamilyWealthReport today

Gain access to regular and exclusive research on the global wealth management sector along with the opportunity to attend industry events such as exclusive invites to Breakfast Briefings and Summits in the major wealth management centres and industry leading awards programmes