One of the things that has struck me over the years as a recruiter is the frequent reference to the industry as a ‘necessary evil’. While I don’t agree with the statement, I do understand where it comes from.
As recruiters our core assets are not stock or products, but people, or more accurately, people’s potential, so we have a huge responsibility to get things right. There are many firms who don’t acknowledge the same level of responsibility that we do, and this either tarnishes us all or makes the best of us stand-out, depending on who is speaking.
A personal business
The industry is completely unregulated – but in fairness, I don’t know how you could regulate a business like this. Much of the heavy background work lies in abstract discussion with candidates and clients about character traits, aspirations, and goals. On top of the usual research, it is also this discussion work that takes much longer than many clients realise, not only in the weeks of searching for people, but actually years of commitment to become really good at understanding it. If it was as simple as advertising a role or using Linkedin, I think we would all be out of work by now.
Why being specialised is important
The other point about becoming highly specialised is that you come to know all the main businesses, the key fund migration projects taking place, the businesses winning mandates, and which direction flows are coming from. In the asset management business, we end up knowing all the key players, delivering whole teams for new funds, setting up new offices and knowing which asset managers are launching new products. You can imagine that over time you end up knowing a very large amount about the business, but more importantly, an even larger number of people, and many of those people will also know you.
In the absence of regulation, over time your face becomes your brand, your brand your reputation. The buy-side is known to be a heavily relationship-driven business, based primarily on trust. Recruitment in the sector is the people business, of the people business.
Posted by Rana Hein-Hartmann