dusted / 24 January

Maintaining employee engagement in investment management

coffee in the office

Investment Management Professionals are always in demand, and the best financial advisors are extremely valuable to wealth and investment management businesses. That’s why finding the right talent is so important, but it’s retaining those employees that is key.

A manager with skills and experience is a valuable asset, but unlike most assets, your business doesn’t own them. Investment managers tend to have a passion for their chosen career, and work because they want to, rather than because they need to, but that is dependent on the conditions in their office. In order to keep employee retention high, a business needs a strategy to increase employee engagement and satisfaction. That’s why we’ve written this list of ways to maintain employee engagement in investment management.

Understand the causes of underperformance

Drops in performance can happen, but there’s no need to assume that an employee needs to go – especially if they were previously very strong performers. Rather than train and hire new talent to take the place of underperformers, it’s better to try and get to the heart of the problem. Why has their performance dropped?

One of the more common reasons for underperformance relates to skill and competency. In these cases, think where these issues might have come from. Looking at the environment surrounding the employee, it’s easier to see what might have happened. Were they promoted to a level of competency they weren’t quite ready for? Has new technology been introduced recently that could be slowing them down while they adjust to new systems? If this is the case, the issue could be with a lack of training, rather than the employee. An underperforming employee could also be troubled by personal issues, for which there are no quick fixes. However, a little support will go a long way towards cultivating loyalty.

Remember that any feedback or information gained from addressing one employee should be stored. Are there any patterns you can analyse to make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Help career development

Employees have always been cautious about discussing career options with employers, but uncertainty in their future is also discouraging. Employers need to change this culture within their company, perhaps even arranging conversations to instigate the dialogue.

Because asset managers are in demand, if they see better future career prospects with a competitor, they’re liable to take it. Career development can help with retention because employees develop a sense of loyalty for employers who are willing to invest in them. It generates a two-way loyalty system that’s much more difficult to break.

Offering more flexibility in career progression can also broaden horizons of potential for employees. There is an ingrained idea of a career ladder in most firms, but this can be stifling for anyone considering a change of direction in their career. Investment managers have a host of skills that could be transferable to other departments, so the introduction of a career lattice to replace the career ladder can motivate employees and build loyalty. When employees feel their organisation is encouraging their career development, they feel more confident about their long-term career path.

Avoid micromanaging: empower instead

An investment manager’s career is all about trust. Clients trust managers to control their investments, and so should businesses. There is a reason this manager was selected to join your company – because they are talented. Sometimes it’s best to let employees do things their way because that’s how they’ll be most efficient. That isn’t to say a business shouldn’t address poor performance, or that a manager’s methods shouldn’t change (especially with the development of technology), but showing an employee that they have the faith of their company to do their job can be very motivating.

An employee might be interested in taking on or participating in a project that they have no experience in, and businesses should encourage this. New projects and stepping out of normal comfort zones are great ways to develop experience, initiative, and to gain a new perspective. It might be a risk, but if they fail, they will have gained valuable experience.

Just don’t confuse ‘encouraging personal growth’ with putting an inexperienced junior in charge of a multi-billion pound account!

Be transparent

Total honesty from leaders to employers is a rare thing, mostly because businesses don’t want external factors to affect the employee’s performance. But a high level of transparency can be encouraging for employees. For instance, being honest about how well your company is succeeding will give employees a sense of being a part of something bigger, rather than an external force that assists with the business’s operations. Businesses should also be honest about what can be improved and recognise who has had a direct impact on the business success, with supporting data to prove it.

Honesty and transparency will create a company that is ‘us’, rather than ‘us and them’.

A strategy for retaining talent is something every business should be working on, but a strategy for finding talent is something Mason Blake can help with. If you have a position in investment management you need to fill, get in touch via our contact page. We’ll be happy to help you find the best fit to add value to your business.

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