What value are asset managers delivering to employees that will attract rare talent?

EVP – In her latest column for Citywire, Phryne Williams explores the importance of an employee value proposition.

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Businesses differ on what they define as delivering value to their employees. And while some key aspects of an employee value proposition (EVP) are clearly defined, such as remuneration and benefits, other important elements are often opaquely woven into company culture.

Given how important it is for companies to distinguish themselves to compete for rare and top talent, asset management firms need to be able to articulate their distinctive EVP in true and compelling ways. While every company includes compensation and benefits packages, they vary in incorporating other elements such as:

  • Career opportunities and promotion pathways;
  • training and study opportunities;
  • work environment and flexibility;
  • work-life balance, family support, maternity and paternity leave, health and well-being;
  • stimulating work and purpose; and
  • company culture, diversity and inclusion, and relationships with leaders.

We’ve seen a focus emerging in recent years on aspects of the EVP such as career pathways, purpose and work-life balance. This happens particularly amongst the younger generations of workers, who as candidates often interrogate the company culture, values and purpose quite rigorously during interviewing processes as they try to work out for themselves whether the company may be a good fit for them.

It’s important too for women who are carving out top careers in asset management. Female leaders and star performers that we deal with value flexibility from their firms when it comes to their family planning and care. It’s clear that while offering a competitive salary is important, it is not the reason why a top or rare talent will work for you rather than your rival.

What can an EVP do for business?

Attracting and retaining talent remains a significant challenge in financial services. Determining and articulating your EVP has become essential to differentiate yourself in the recruitment market. This, however, should not be a marketing exercise, devised by copywriters and focused externally on winning the talent wars.

BlackRock, for example, offers an EVP that is explicit and concrete: they are purpose-driven, performance-oriented, and principles-led, and consistently rank high as an employer of choice. Achieving this is no small feat. They have even gone as far as assessing leaders not only on performance but also on how well they live by and teach the guiding principles.

This is one of the ways that they ensure that they maintain their compelling EVP.

A successful EVP should be based on your employees’ actual experiences and should meet their real wants and needs. However, consistent, clear communication of your EVP can bring many benefits when it comes to recruitment, including:

Offering a role that is attractive to top and rare talent

Once again, of course, money helps, but the choice of you over a competitor will rarely hinge on remuneration alone. What do you offer when it comes to access to company leaders? What is your performance when it comes to fairness or diversity? Is there family support when employees have to provide child or elder care? Can you articulate potential career development pathways for the candidate?

Enabling candidates to discover if they are a good fit

Being proficient at describing company culture helps candidates to work out for themselves if they are going to fit in well. It’s in the nature of asset management firms to focus on a culture of high performance, so how do you differentiate yourself in a way that attracts that?

Articulating vision, values and purpose

Most employees today want to know that their work counts in the world, and many want to contribute to the greater good. What is the vision of your firm? How well are you able to articulate this in an interview to inspire candidates?

Presenting an appealing work environment

Companies have different ways of ensuring that employees work in comfortable yet stimulating conditions, meeting diverse employee needs that can involve office design aesthetics. At this time, flexibility when it comes to the hybrid work option is something often on candidates’ minds. Companies will need to have their standpoint on hybrid work included in their EVP.

In our experience, we have also seen the EVP driven by leadership to positive effect. An example of this is one of our most forward-thinking clients engaged us to deliver a market-mapping exercise to support their succession planning and diversity strategy.

Part of the project involved the CEO of the firm meeting informally with carefully identified star performers who could be potential candidates over lunch. These were simply getting to know each other events – no roles or lists of skills and experience were mentioned.

At the close of the project, we surveyed the potential candidates, and they delivered a surprise outcome – almost 90%, an unusually highly statistic, expressed interest in engaging with the company if suitable roles became available. The resounding reason was their positive experience of engaging with the CEO.

They appreciated that he showed tremendous interest in both their professional and personal lives. They all perceived that he spoke honestly about the organisation, its purpose and the pull factors that could align with their stated priorities. Through his openness and authenticity, he was a highly credible advocate for a compelling aspect of EVP – the accessibility of leadership.

What strategies does your firm use to determine your EVP?  How hard is it for you to differentiate your EVP from your competitors? Leave your comments below.

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