We often know what advice to dole out to candidates preparing for job interviews—be enthusiastic, dress smart, ask questions—but sometimes, ETF providers can be less savvy when it comes to hiring the right people.
For new entrants to the ETF space, hiring an A-team is incredibly important. While those in operations must navigate the complex regulatory landscape, technical teams have to create innovative and efficient products, while sales and marketing must build the brand and communicate effectively with clients. It is in the last category where we see ETF providers struggling. No matter how good the product, it will flop if the sales team can’t find an audience. In that case, chances are that the problem started well before the sales team tried to find its first buyer.
To solve this problem, ETF providers should be very clear about the kind of person and skillsets they are looking for well before advertising a vacancy. What is your company culture and how would someone fit into it? As Mark Eshman, CIO of ClearRock Capital, told us, “The single most important thing candidates have to do is abide by our culture and values.”
Once your brand is clear, make sure the industry can see you: attend industry events and position yourselves on social media. Candidates often pick a job based on the overarching company rather than the specific role being advertised. Candidates know that in smaller companies they can rise through the ranks more quickly.
Matt Hougan of Bitwise Asset Management agrees. “The company is what matters,” he said, adding that candidates should ask themselves a few key questions that may be key in determining their future success: “Do you work for a company that can succeed and grow? Do you believe in its mission? Do you work with people you like and can learn from?”
Next, be very targeted in your job search or place the task with a professional head-hunter. Understand what you want and communicate it clearly, as this will save you the hassle of sifting through hundreds of random applications. Companies may still carry out multiple interviews, but the process altogether will take less time than posting a vague advert on a generic recruitment website.
For new entrants building a team, executives often hesitate when it comes to the right mix of senior and junior sales and marketing employees. It is likely you will need both: hire senior staff with experience at reputable firms who can quickly build confidence in your brand, locate distribution channels, and contribute to in-house education and training. Hire junior staff who are loyal and eager to learn. With the right training and encouragement, less experienced employees can easily become superstars. Sound advice comes from Jean-Rene Giraud, CEO at TrackInsight: “Listen to the next generation, they are smart, educated and willing to make a better world.”
Hiring from outside the industry for junior roles is encouraged as well. The industry can’t grow unless it sometimes gathers relevant skills from outside our niche.
“I’ve usually focused on bringing new blood into the ETF market as it’s a shallow talent pool given its size over the last 20 years I’ve been involved”, said Hector McNeil, Co-founder of HANetf. “I still believe that energy, working smart and hard is the starting point. ETF experience comes well behind that, but as the pool gets deeper there is more talent around.”
Once the candidate is in the door, ETF providers need to present themselves as an exciting employer, as well as recognizing the importance of gender equality and diversity to attract the right candidates. This might mean ensuring an equal number of men and women interviewers, for example, or being open to flexible working opportunities.
As an industry we can easily forget the basics when it comes to scouting the next generation of talent. Invest the time and energy into recruiting the best people now, and those efforts will reap rewards—and quicker than you might expect.