Luke Nutley
16 June 2020 by Luke Nutley
Digital Financial Technologies
Challenge

Our client is a truly global investment and wholesale bank with extensive operations on all five continents. As part of their long term business plan to further enhance both their commercial performance and their brand visibility, they decided to become a major player in retail financial services in a carefully selected basket of countries, one of which is the UK. They made the strategic decision to build a pure-play digital operation rather than an omnichannel one with physical branches – all clicks and no bricks.

Their commitment was substantial and sustained, with the group’s own digital specialists being complemented by a small number of highly respected digital consultancies. In this way, they were able to complete a high proportion of the build at almost breath-taking speed. It was recognised however that, despite the need to embrace the challenges of dramatic and rapid digital transformation, it was also necessary to ensure that quality and integrity were sustained by recruiting a variety of digital talent into the bank on a permanent basis.

It was at this stage that they turned to us to help identify, attract and secure a range of digital talent in a way that was fully aligned to, and supported, the core values underpinning their brand. The need to recruit from a range of sectors was at the heart of the challenge. From a digital technology perspective, the financial services sector is not traditionally known for its imagination and innovative flair. And, even when it is, it is normally more associated with small, startup fintechs' than with established global players. However, our client was determined to overcome this preconception. Our task was to complement our client’s own, very effective talent acquisition team, by reaching out to sectors that were familiar to us but not to them.

Approach

We immediately formed a talent acquisition squad dedicated to delivering on the challenge to the quality and deadlines agreed. The squad quickly reached the conclusion that it was not the technical skills sets (Core Java, Microservices architecture, AWS Cloud experience) that comprised the hurdle facing us. Neither was it identifying those skills-sets in sectors outside financial services. In fact, that was comparatively easy. The challenge consisted of convincing highly talented Digital Software Engineers and UI / UX Specialists (as well as Testing Specialists) to join a large, financial services organisation whose brand, while enormously strong in its traditional sector, was not so (and perhaps even an anti-brand) in the sectors from which it wanted to recruit talent.

For this reason, we concluded that an advertising-driven talent acquisition programme would be insufficient to ensure success. In fact, we adopted the opposite approach by implementing a stealth campaign. We quickly but carefully identified a pool of appropriately skilled individuals and communicated with them consistently but gently. Our approach was to describe and emphasise not only the technical excitement of a new build but, above all, the genuine willingness of our client to embrace the lessons to be learned from exploring outside their traditional sector. It was this openness to thought innovation as well as technical innovation that made the project successful.

Outcome

We meet our client’s expectations (perhaps more accurately described as hopes) to attract from a more diverse range of sectors. In fact, we succeeded in attracting Software Engineers and UI / UX Specialists from a range of sectors including gaming, retail eCommerce, online fashion, mcommerce and digital agencies.