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How to win the war for top tech talent

Sharon Florentine | July 11, 2017
By emphasising engagement, purpose and innovation, the financial services industry is showing how to beat Silicon Valley at its own game.

“One of the things in this survey, even across different generations, is people need to understand the mission and values piece of a company before they go work there. What’s the company all about? What do they stand for? I find it really powerful that 76 percent [of respondents] needed to know what that mission is before they even consider employment. People need to feel that what they do matters and understand how that purpose connects to the larger goals of the business,” says O’Connor.


Court with cutting-edge tech

A culture of innovation is critical to attracting and retaining talent, too, according to the survey. Seventy-nine percent of financial services employees say that working for an innovative company is important to them. While 75 percent of employees say they view their companies as being innovative, many still see ways for their company to improve including allowing for the free flow of ideas (53 percent); having a budget for investing in ideas (37 percent); holding idea competitions (35 percent); and hiring entrepreneurial employees (31 percent).

That also involves innovative technology and offering candidates the ability to solve complex problems, says Shugar, not just in the U.S. but through global opportunities. Barclaycard has invested significantly in an innovation agenda, Shugar says; hiring a top technical innovator, Michael Harte, to run the innovation agenda for Barclays, and supporting technology incubators in six locations around the globe.

“Our aspiration is to transform from being a financial services company offering technological solutions to being a technology company that offers financial services. The industry has such a broad impact on business and society, and making financial services easy to use is a great challenge for any top technologist! We offer people the opportunity to utilize their technology talents across the Atlantic and their work has a global reach — from Germany, the UK, to India and beyond,” Shugar says.

In the war for technical talent, it’s important to go above and beyond the “table stakes” of salary, healthcare benefits and paid time off, says Shugar. Top talent is attracted by a combination of technical challenges and the opportunity to make a big impact on the world, as well as company culture that fits their values and lifestyle.

“You have to make the value proposition real; no gimmicks. Focus on making the job attractive first, and the compensation piece second. If you have these things, then your challenge becomes more about how to get the message out, make it believable and show candidates the opportunities. If the candidate is hooked on startups and the illusive opportunity to hit a financial home run, move on,” Shugar says.


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