Business Continuity During The COVID-19 Outbreak

recruiting during the covid-19 outbreak
Canary Wharf station business continuity During The COVID-19 Outbreak

With the recent shift in government policy in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us are feeling shock as we adapt not only our working behaviour but our home lives in accordance with the guidelines. But as the workforce in China, so heavily impacted by coronavirus, starts to return to the office, we need to remind ourselves that life will continue. Businesses must look forward in order to survive through to the other side of this unprecedented upheaval, but how should they approach business continuity and hiring during the COVID-19 outbreak? We ask Andrew Setchell, Co-Founder of SRM Recruitment, what firms can do to keep moving forward.

How are hiring managers reacting to the latest response from the government to COVID-19?

Undoubtedly most businesses are urgently assessing their ability to do business during the outbreak, and many will be very concerned about the outlook. However, many of the clients we are speaking to are keen to keep their hiring process moving. The reason for that is they have their eye on the other end of this crisis and want to ensure they are in the best position possible to recover. If they completely pause recruitment, even for one or two months, when they come back and have to commence hiring they will have at least four or five months to wait before they can appoint new talent, given the time to recruit and the candidate serving their notice. 

What precedence is there for this kind of behaviour?

People are comparing the coronavirus impact to the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. In many respects, I can understand that. That too was a shock, but in that instance, we were eased in more slowly. This will be a sharper shock to the system, but the end is also possibly much closer in sight, and businesses should be planning for that accordingly. 

I think the fundamental difference here is that this crisis is much more of a  humanitarian one. People are concerned about their businesses and their job, of course. But even more than that, they are worried about their loved ones, their health and the lives they lead. Through all of this, it is the people who are at the heart of our businesses and their health has to come first.

Where do you expect the greatest pressure will be felt?

In light of the delayed IR35 legislation, the contract market, which is already struggling, could encounter a perfect storm. However, the vacancies are still there. The need is still there, because we will always have personnel out on maternity leave, and people still need to get their year-end accounting done. The demand for temporary staff will reduce less than that for permanent hires. 

Across all industries,  the more we can focus on what can be done, the more likely it is we can keep businesses going. If organisations can embrace technology, look after their people and focus beyond the next three months, they will be in a far better position than those who can’t. If you can picture a future where we recover back to normality and see beyond the current situation, you will see that your roles still need recruiting. 

What advice do you have for managers trying to achieve business continuity during the COVID-19 outbreak?

  1. Embrace technology. Collaboration tools such as Workplace from Facebook are helping companies to communicate,  engage with their staff and get work done. Companies embracing collaboration technology will be better able to create a virtual community than those who don’t. Video conferencing platforms like Blue Jeans are helping employees to communicate and businesses to  ‘meet’ candidates virtually so that the recruitment process doesn’t have to stall entirely.
  2. Be flexible, and patient. To adapt to the current situation, organisations must be open-minded to try a new approach, particularly around hiring, and should appreciate that it may take longer than usual. Interviews may have to be online, rather than in person, which may mean more rounds are required to ensure you have the right candidate. Make time and allow room for experimentation. By being flexible and agile, companies are far better positioned to respond to the market need. 
  3. Assess your values. At the end of this incredible challenge, companies will be judged on how they responded to it, by their employees, their job candidates and by the public alike. Look after your people and be clear about how you can help them. If you offer fantastic health cover and life insurance, emphasise that. What people value is changing and you need to keep up with that. 
  4. Most importantly, look to the future. This difficult period will pass, and you need to be ready to hit the market when it does. Don’t lose sight of the hiring needs you have and make a start on addressing those now. There are candidates willing to speak to employers that we can connect you to today. Better to start what could be a slow process now, than to wait and potentially lose great talent to your competitor. 

If you need advice on your recruiting during the COVID-19 outbreak, we can help. Get in touch, and we’ll arrange a chat to learn about your business needs.

From The Forces To Finance

forces to finance

When Alastair Horrocks left the British Army in 2009, he knew it would be a challenging transition. Learn how he went on to forge a successful career in finance, discover which transferable skills he brings to his role and the advice he has for anyone seeking to follow in his footsteps.

Tell us about your current role
I’m a Director in the Mergers & Acquisitions team at a Big Four firm, advising shareholders on selling their business. My job is to maximise the value they receive for their business when it is sold. Less frequently I also work on the buyer side, advising clients on how best to buy a company and supporting them through that complex process.

What attracted you to corporate finance?
I think it’s because to sell something you need to understand it, and I have a strong understanding of the sector I specialise in. Industry knowledge allows you to offer real insights – you understand how best to position it. You need to get to know the business, be able to forecast, be critical of the business and its strategy and help your client get the business ready for sale so that it attracts the right buyer pool. There’s some science behind it, but what I enjoy most is working with the client and making sure the message they send to buyers strikes the right chord.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part is when you get a good result for an entrepreneur or private shareholder who has invested a large part of their professional career, and probably quite a lot of their personal life and savings, in a business and then you see them rewarded for that effort. The other is building relationships with clients over a period of time so that you become a trusted advisor. I enjoy it when clients turn to me on an informal basis to get my advice on aspects of their business – it’s all part of the relationship I’m building with them.

How did you come to work where you are now? Tell us a little about the path that brought you here.
I joined the Army after university in the Green Jackets regiment. My last role was with the infantry, doing a staff job in HQ, focused on intelligence. When I left the Army I wasn’t sure what to do, and decided to do an MBA at INSEAD to better understand which area of business interested me, and what I was good at. I enjoyed the corporate finance modules, but it was 2009 and the financial markets were not the best place to find a job. Instead, I went into a well-known global corporation in their business development team. There, I made sure I became involved in M&A work so I could gain some experience, which I then decided I wanted to do in an advisory firm.

What skills and knowledge are you still using from your military experience?
Having transitioned from the forces to finance I can see that in both it fundamentally comes down to relationships and communication. In the Army you are taught to address issues head on, and you spend a lot of time in your formative years about how to communicate those issues properly. The experience served me well in M&A, where I have to give powerful messages, and the way I deliver them is important. I also find that in my current role I’m dealing with a constant input of new information which I must use to make decisions. It was a similar situation in my military role, and you have to accept the decision you make might not be perfect, but you have to think of the best outcome based on the information you have. It’s really all about communication, agility and being able to step back from problems and frame them in context.

How was the transition from army to civilian life for you?
Coming out of the Army is tricky. I think I mitigated some of the challenges by doing structured learning – I had a goal to aim for, which was really helpful, but it was still hard going. After eight years with the Army I had friends and colleagues I’d grown close to and the sense of what I was doing there was very clear.

The downside of having spent all that time after university in the Army is that I wasn’t forging the long-term career path that I wanted to pursue, I wasn’t taking a professional qualification. That meant when I came out, and I wanted to work in a company where a certain level of education and experience was needed, I had to work hard. The Army stands you in very good stead, but you still need to learn the new business or sector you’re in. It’s unnerving in three ways:

  1. You’re not quite sure what you want to do, or if you do, you’re not sure how to get there
  2. You have to learn very quickly. You’re being thrust into an environment where your colleagues may be much younger than you but they have more experience, and you have to show what you can offer.
  3. You miss the structure and support that the Army can offer

What additional training have you pursued to help you with that move?
I did the MBA through INSEAD, and I also did the first two parts of the CIMA qualification to get up to speed with a basic level of understanding of accountancy. Once in work, I’ve taken on whatever training courses the firm had to offer that I thought I could benefit from, such as modelling and evaluations. I’ve also done some training in business development. I think BD probably comes very naturally to many people moving from the forces to finance, because they’re used to engaging with people they don’t know, but there’s a knack to selling in a non obtrusive, non aggressive way that has to be learned.

How does working for a Big 4 company compare to working for the British Army?
In many respects they’re more similar than you’d think, because they are fundamentally people businesses – the key assets in both are people. This is in stark contrast to the engineering company where I worked before, where the focus was much more on the products and the IP in them.

They are also similar in that they are very large organisations, but within each there are smaller teams. My immediate team in M&A has ten of us, then there are 60 more across the wider business. In that respect, I can relate to the platoon and company structure in the Army – it’s just lots of small teams working within one bigger one.

One of the key differences you see when moving from the forces to finance, or likely most civilian organisations, is the management culture. The military is a lot more hierarchical than my company, which is a partnership and has a lot flatter structure. Decision making is very different too – you get a lot more communal input here, which has obvious upsides and downsides.

What advice would you give to someone considering a move from the forces to finance?
The key thing is to work out what technical qualification is going to get you through the door and enhance your capability as well as your credibility. The military serves you well and the things you learn will be useful, but you need to demonstrate your technical understanding of the sector to make yourself credible to the company hiring you.

You also need to understand what part of finance you want to go into and how you can best serve that area. It’s a broad church, and some sectors will be more challenging than others to transition from the forces to finance. M&A is actually probably not a very sensible choice for someone a little older with family commitments, because your peers will be 23 year old qualified accountants who can work 15 hour days!

Other areas of finance have a better work life balance and might not require you to have such a deep technical knowledge in the early years. Be realistic about what you want and what the employer wants from you, and frame that in the context of you, your age and situation, your experience and your background.

If you are considering a career transition such as a move from the forces to finance, please do get in touch to have a chat about your options.

Helping a couple move from South Africa to the UK

Emma and Ryan slanders move from South Africa to the uk

Moving across the world is not a transition for the faint-hearted. We caught up with a couple from South Africa who took the leap last year to find out more about their move, and how SRM Recruitment was able to ensure the move from South Africa to the UK was a smooth one.

Emma and Ryan Sclanders found help from SRM Recruitment with their move from South Africa to the UK

“There were a number of things that drew us to move from South Africa to the UK. At the risk of sounding negative about a country we both love, I think a big reason for our move was that we were both desperate for a taste of adventure beyond the small town we have always called home.

At the same time, we also wanted to find somewhere to put roots down and to be able to build a life for our family. I am lucky enough to have an Irish passport and due to the fact that Ryan’s gran was born in England, he was eligible for a British ancestral visa. We literally had passports to an opportunity that would shape the rest of our lives and so we took the leap.

Once the decision was made, things moved quickly and before we knew it, we were knee-high in bubble wrap and living out of a suitcase with my parents. It was rather chaotic, but exhilarating at the same time. However, we did not anticipate the emotions we would face once we arrived in the UK. Aside from the fact that the exchange rate was not in our favour and the taxi ride we had to take from the airport to our Airbnb totalled more than my monthly groceries in SA, we had never been homeless or unemployed before.

It’s a very strange and daunting experience, starting off from scratch in a new country, so we were very grateful when my husband Ryan applied for a job and his CV caught the attention of SRM’s recruiter, Paul Craggs. After a phone call, Paul and another recruiter, Tom, met Ryan for coffee. Ryan came home filled with enthusiasm, he knew that he was in good hands.

Paul gave Ryan loads of advice and guidance for each potential role he had in mind for him; discussing what to research, giving background information on the companies and what to expect in the interview process. He found a specific role that really appealed to Ryan and facilitated the process seamlessly until Ryan was totally comfortable and satisfied. The role required four interview stages – all of which Paul was there to support and advise Ryan through.

On chatting further to Paul about our situation, Ryan explained that I was also looking for a job. His SRM Recruitment colleague Tom then started looking at options for me. He rang me up on a Thursday, kindly fetched me from the station to prep me for the interview that afternoon and by Monday morning the following week, I had signed my contract and officially started in my new role. He was very perceptive and accurate when it came to finding the right role for me after discussing what I was hoping for.

The best part about our experience with SRM, through Paul and Tom, was the fact that they didn’t just reassure us, they actively sought to make sure we were looked after and happy in our roles. My brother recently moved over to the UK from South Africa and I didn’t think twice about immediately sending him to SRM for assistance with his job hunting. Tom was fantastic once again and found him a graduate role within a few weeks of his arrival here.

We are so very grateful to Paul and Tom and would absolutely recommend them to others. With all the information and assistance they gave us about the roles and how to deal with the interview processes we both felt so calm and reassured during a period that would have otherwise been stressful and daunting without their guidance and knowledge.”

If you are considering a move to the UK, or have recently moved and need some support looking for a role in finance, tax or wealth management, we’d love to speak to you. Drop us a line and one of our consultants will be in touch as soon as possible.

About Emma and Ryan
My husband Ryan and I were both born and raised in South Africa, in a small town near Durban, on the East Coast. We are both dog-crazy and have two gorgeous hounds (who will be joining us in the UK in March). Ryan is also an avid sportsman who is passionate about cricket, golf and hockey, while I, on the other hand, was not gifted with much hand-eye coordination and prefer reading and the arts!

Recruiting and retaining staff

recruiting and retaining staff merry go round

With over 13 years’ experience recruiting into the financial services industry, SRM Recruitment Co-Founder Rory MacSween is familiar with the ‘merry-go-round’ effect that bonus season often creates on staffing. Who better to ask about recruiting and retaining staff in bonus season? Learn how your firm can make the most of this candidate-rich market whilst retaining your top talent.

How does the recruitment market change at this time of year, Rory?
After any big holiday period, but particularly after the Christmas holidays, there will be a surge in enquiries from potential candidates, looking for a new opportunity. People have had time to reflect on what they really want from their job, and start to put the feelers out for what else could be out there, in terms of a new challenge.
This time of year is particularly busy because there are a lot of candidates pre-empting the conversation they expect to have with their manager about their bonus, pay rise and promotion. If they are in any doubt that the result won’t be what they want, they are preparing to find a better package elsewhere.

The impact of all this cyclical change on a small team can be particularly hard, so it’s important to understand what’s going on and to anticipate the trend.

Is it any different this year?
I think this year does feel different. We’ve had a lot of political and economic uncertainty over the last few years which has negatively impacted confidence among candidates and clients. It’s hard to make a sweeping statement across financial services, but our tax clients seem more positive now – they’re interested to see what impact our departure from the EU will have on legislation and recruitment seems stimulated by a need to understand that change.

The renewed positivity has increased candidate confidence. With less concern about being ‘last in, first out’, thanks to improved stability, candidates are feeling more inclined to put their heads above the parapet to see what opportunities are out there.

The net result is that in some markets, particularly for more senior roles, there is an increasing volume of very high calibre candidates, making it a very competitive talent pool.

So now would be a good time to bring in new talent?
Yes, absolutely. In smaller firms, where there are fewer opportunities for progression or sideways moves, there are certain roles you know will have a relatively high turnover. Anticipating this departure and planning your recruitment to make the most of this candidate-rich period can be advantageous. Similarly, you may be aware of people showing a higher likelihood of ‘flight risk’ when bonus, promotion and pay rise news is shared.

What about the staff I want to keep? How can I retain my top talent?
If you are aware that an employee is likely to get a less-than-desired bonus or will be overlooked for promotion, you should be having a conversation with them well in advance about that situation. If individuals are disillusioned with their prospects at your firm, it’s important to talk openly about what can be done to improve them, laying out a pathway for progression.

Your most talented employees should not have to wait until they resign and get a counter-offer from you to understand the value they bring to the organisation. Appraisals should be done regularly, throughout the year, and not just annually, so that both parties can share their expectations of each other.

How can SRM Recruitment help?
Our offering is based on a consultative relationship with our clients and candidates. It’s important that we fully understand your needs as early as possible so we can help you devise your recruitment strategy around these cyclical trends.

With a wide range of clients across the industry, we’re also well-positioned to offer advice on salary and benefits benchmarking, to ensure that you are best placed to retain and attract the talent you need.

If you would like to discuss your hiring needs with me or any of the SRM Recruitment team, we’d love to chat – just get in touch.

Video – A Career Beyond Accountancy

career beyond accountancy

Accounting provides a strong grounding for a wide range of careers in finance. In this video interview, we ask Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital how he made the transition and progressed his career beyond accountancy, and what advice he has for someone wishing to follow in his footsteps.

Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital

What to do if it’s time to move on

what to do if it's time to move on

The ‘New Year, New You’ messages have barely died down before the bonus and promotion season gets started in many industries. For those who miss out on the pay rise, the bonus or the promotion they were hoping for, it can seem like the ideal time to look for a new opportunity. But with so many other candidates having the same idea, is it really the best time to move on? We ask Rory MacSween, Co-Founder at SRM Recruitment, for his advice on what to do if it’s time to move on.

  1. Talk to your manager
    Don’t wait until your resignation to negotiate your position at your current firm. While the grass may seem greener at another organisation, a new opportunity in an environment you’re familiar with may be a great chance to realise your potential without having to enter a crowded market. If your concerns are purely remunerative, talk to your line manager sooner rather than later. If you wait to take a counter-offer when you resign, you could tarnish your name in the organisation.

    Have regular discussions with your manager about what their long term plans are for you. It’s not something you should do three months in, but if you’ve been with an organisation over a year, it’s a good idea to regularly challenge your manager so that you both understand each other’s expectations. Those conversations can build a healthy relationship that could make the difference between staying or looking elsewhere.
  2. Talk to your peers
    If you’re experienced in your field, it can pay to have an informal chat with people outside the organisation that you have a good relationship with. These are likely to be senior advisors who might have insights into the market or their own network where hidden opportunities could lie. Maintain a relationship with these people and you may hear about a role ahead of the curve.
  3. Partner with an expert
    Recruitment consultants have access to a network of opportunities that are not widely available publically. Speak to colleagues who’ve left your organisation and have experience in the recruitment market who can give you the names of trusted partners and agencies.

    Once you’ve found one or two that sound promising, have a non-binding conversation with them to get an understanding of which agency will represent you best in the market. Bring a list of your ‘dream organisations’ and see whether they have a relationship with those firms, or whether they know that company’s current hiring strategy. If they don’t, they might not be the right agency for you. Be selective – it’s very off-putting to a hiring manager to see your CV come from multiple sources, as it shows your lack of control over your search.

    Don’t wait until the 11th hour to find the right partner for you. It takes time to build a good relationship with a recruitment consultant, then the hiring process and your own notice period can delay things further. The sooner you can have speculative conversations, the better.
  4. Keep your details up-to-date
    If you start talking to a recruitment consultant in the New Year, then you have a salary and bonus review in Spring, make sure that you update them on any changes to your remuneration expectations. Be upfront and honest about what you want – no one wants a surprise at the moment of offer. Be realistic too, about your expectations. Ask your recruitment consultant about benchmark salaries, and be aware that ‘golden handshakes’ or similar packages are far less common now than they used to be.
  5. Leverage LinkedIn
    There are still many candidates who do not have a complete, up-to-date LinkedIn profile, and this puts them at an immediate disadvantage. Whether you love social media or hate it, LinkedIn is a necessary evil, and if you’re actively looking for a new role, it’s worth investing some time to get your profile right. Follow the guidelines LinkedIn has created to ensure your profile is complete. It doesn’t have to tell the whole story – it can be a snapshot, but it must be attractive enough to appeal to recruiters and employers.

    If you are expecting Linkedin to be a useful source of new roles for you make sure you regularly check your messages.
  6. Take your time
    Missing out on a promotion or the bonus you want can make you resentful and emotional. However, it’s important not to jump quickly into the wrong opportunity. No matter how desperate you might feel, make sure you move for the right reasons, to the right place, and not just because an opportunity looks similar to your role but with £5k more on the paycheque. There’s nothing worse than having multiple moves in a short period on your CV, so take the time to avoid mistakes.

SRM Recruitment will always give an honest appraisal of our reach in the market and our track record of helping people like you. If we can help, we’ll tell you how, and if we can’t, we’ll try to point you in the right direction. Our approach means we work with fewer people, but we build long-term relationships with them, meaning our candidates often become our clients. If you’d like to chat with one of our consultants about how we can help you, get in touch.

Video – Working with SRM Recruitment

working with SRM recruitment

Honesty, timely communication and attention to detail are just some of the attributes our clients appreciate from our service. In this short video, SRM Recruitment asks our client, Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital, to share his thoughts on what it’s like working with us.

Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital

Video – Advice for Hiring Managers

advice for hiring managers video

In the first of a series of video interviews, SRM Recruitment asks one of our clients, Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital, for his advice for hiring managers seeking to grow their teams, and about the management style he has adopted to achieve success.

Richard Nordgreen, Head of Investments at Proseed Capital

Why work for SRM?

Andrew Setchell, CEO at SRM Recruitment
Andrew Setchell, CEO at SRM Recruitment
Andrew Setchell

Andrew Setchell, co-founder of SRM Recruitment shares his thoughts on why the firm is the ideal place for a recruiter to grow their career. Learn about the culture at SRM, our commission structure and 10 reasons to come and work for us.

Why work for SRM, if you’re a potential recruitment consultant? 

We started SRM as we felt the recruitment industry was increasingly focusing on process rather than consultancy. Our belief has always been to listen and collaborate with our clients; building trust so they have confidence in our delivery.

It’s a very straightforward approach but one that has enabled us to attract an experienced and ambitious team of recruitment professionals who believe in doing things the right way.

Clear commission structure

Transparency in the way we reward our consultants is critical. At SRM we operate a very clear commission structure and it’s one of the best in the industry. Each consultant can easily calculate what they will receive, there are no surprises. In a team-based commission structure, you rarely get rewarded for your success.

Real flexibility

There’s a strong team ethic though and we listen and learn from each other. We take work seriously and we’re professional in all we say and do but life comes first and we shape the working day to suit us. Everyone needs balance and you’ll find yours here. 

Celebrating success is important and we usually do that through team lunches rather than nights out – driven by what they desire to do. For example, we recently experienced Maos, the exclusive restaurant owned by Nuno Mendes, the Michelin starred Chef.  

Alicia Loates why work for SRM
Alicia Loates, Senior Consultant, Finance

Run your own business

We expect everyone to operate their own part of the business and each SRM consultant is really motivated by that. Once consultants are given real freedom, they feel they have a stake in the business and their achievements become more rewarding.

Get back to real recruitment

We hire experienced consultants and support them day to day to build lasting relationships with clients and candidates. There are no outside distractions, everyone continues to learn from the team around them. Management at SRM is about mentoring, suggesting and leading, not hands-on training of unqualified personnel. You have time for what really counts: your clients and candidates. 

Why work at SRM now, when the market is in flux?

We are an established business with repeat clients and a strong foundation. Clients say to me that they like our honesty and transparency, they trust us. They appreciate the advice we give, not solely our ability to deliver and that’s why we’ve been successful. 

We focus on finance, tax, public practice and wealth management recruitment – all are doing well, including interim and temp. There’s huge scope for continued growth and expansion, both in our core teams, new disciplines and geographies. We want to hear from consultants who believe they deserve a broader market to succeed in, fewer operators, more clients.

We have discovered challenges such as Brexit don’t duly concern us; we are nimble and flexible, we work internationally, able to change tack and adapt quickly with continuous growth and success.

Tom Barlow why work for SRM
Tom Barlow, Senior Consultant, Finance

Who does well at SRM?

Capable recruiters do well as they gain access to a much bigger market than they are used to, and it’s their own to develop. Those who bring positivity and want to be part of the SRM community will also enjoy working here. If you want to be rewarded for your efforts whilst working in a warm team atmosphere, this is the right place for you.

We are looking for consultants who are ready to take on individual responsibility as we don’t focus on KPIs, it’s more about achieving the broad objectives for your part of the business. 

What are your aims for the business? 

To keep building on our strong foundations. There really is scope to more than double our market and income over the next couple of years as we expand our core businesses and open offices in new regions.

Andrew Setchell, CEO, SRM Recruitment

Why work for SRM Recruitment: 10 reasons

  1. Transparent, individual commission
  2. Relaxed but industrious environment
  3. Individual responsibility focus, not KPI driven
  4. Work with experienced recruiters
  5. Face-time with the leadership team
  6. Clear and fair
  7. Flexible
  8. Have a say in the direction of the business
  9. Your future is in your hands, not someone else’s
  10. Access to all the recruitment tools you desire

Read our work for us section to find out more about careers in recruitment with SRM Recruitment.  

Download our permanent commission calculator 

Download our temp/contract commission calculator