Finance, banking, insurance and law - a demanding industry for the recruitment consultant?
Sophie Lempert is one of our most experienced recruitment consultants and decided early on to specialize in the field of Finance & Legal, one of our areas of expertise at Harvey Nash. The ability to work with these often more regulated roles and to better leverage her own network of seasoned professionals in this industry has contributed to her ambition of making a difference and adding more value to our customers.
1) How did you come to know of Harvey Nash?
I previously worked with business development for the Swedish and later also the Danish Trade Council. During that time, I encountered many management executives who were looking to expand their companies into other markets and the talent supply chain was always a key issue. This sparked my interest in HR, people as a resource and psychology. I started looking towards the recruitment industry and came into contact with executive search and leadership services firm Alumni (a sister company to Harvey Nash). At Alumni I started as a researcher working to identify and map out the market for roles within economics, finance and law. In 2014, I was offered the opportunity to take a step over to a consultancy role here at Harvey Nash, which has been great fun and it is very rewarding to work from start to finish in assignments!
We are a very values-driven company, which suits me very well, as I have always known that our core values are well-matched to my own. I am happy and grateful for finding ample space for my personal and also professional development here. There is a lot going on all the time, and even though I chose to niche myself in one area, the challenges are never the same and the customers' needs are always different. Developing and building our network is forever ongoing, which makes everyday even more exciting as I meet new people and get to share in their stories and future plans. The majority of these dialogues are ofcourse very positive, full of hopes and dreams, which is inspiring and gives me a lot of energy!
2) What is it about this area of expertise that you enjoy most?
I've probably found the challenge within the finance, insurance, law and private equity industry a little bit bigger. My experience has been that the majority of customers place a higher demand on quality, accessibility of the consultant and precision in the search work. It ends up being more rewarding when your hard work pays off and one gets good response from the client. My drive to always deliver at my best has landed me the responsibility for one of our biggest clients, one of Sweden's largest banks. It feels great to be appreciated by the client, but also that I can contribute to Harvey Nash's success as a whole and it makes me feel that I do make a difference.
I get much energy from the teamwork with my colleagues and also through the daily contact I have with individuals in our business community. I find meaning and purpose in recruiting, which in many respects affects the future leadership of Swedish businesses. At Harvey Nash we also have many interesting assignments, making it easy to find a passion for what one does every day and I take pride in being able to act as an advisor to business executives and organisations. A great deal of returning customers speaks to us doing something right, I hope! I think it shows that we are making good on our promise to create trustworthy and long-term relationships.
3) Any advice to our clients when working with an external recruitment partner?
It is good to keep in mind that there is some preparation to be done in advance , for instance; have you identified what resources are available throughout the recruitment process? how will the role you're recruiting to impact your organisation? how can you best prepare an onboarding program for your new employee? and how accessible can you be during the process? These are things we are always keen to determine at an early stage in an assignment to ensure a successful process. Clear expectations and defined areas of responsibilities are also key to working in a successful collaboration with an external recruitment partner. It is important not to see the recruitment process as an 'outsourced' part but rather as a close co-operation with frequent meetings and often a need for quick decisions along the way. Many of our assignments are within search and when you seek to attract passive candidates you have to allow for more time and efforts to generate an interest and build an attraction to the role. It becomes crucial that what your recruiter says is reflected in your organisation and that level of transparency becomes much easier with good collaboration. Working within search assignments, one of my biggest tasks is to ensure that I have a thorough understanding of my client's business and that I am able to use that knowledge to act a good ambassador and build credibility and trust in the candidate market. We strive not only to represent our clients' in the best way, but of course we must also keep our candidates' best interests at heart, and work to find the best possible match between candidate and company. Ensuring that a candidate can reach their full potential in a role sometimes demands that we challenge our clients in their expectations. Why would candidates be attracted to this role within your company? What can you offer that your competitors can not?
One of the benefits of using an external recruitment partner and which I think many forget is the ability to collect feedback from the market through our work. In our numerous dialogues with sources and candidates, we get a lot of feedback on the role and the recruiting company's brand. I think this type of information creates added value to our clients.
4) Why should our customers choose Harvey Nash?
I think clients must choose recruitment partners based on which consultants you enjoy working with and who will represent you in the best way. A good relationship with trust and open dialogue is a big part of this. Your recruitment partner must have the right networks and resources to be able to deliver quality candidates as well as a thorough assessment process with for instance interviews, background checks, proficiency tests and a good process for taking references. Sometimes clients ask for reports of criminal records and ask candidates to commit to drug testing. At Harvey Nash, we can help with all of those elements and our network is very reliable, given our close collaboration with our sister companies in the Nordics (Alumni and Impact Executives) but also in that we are part of an international firm with around 8000 people across just over 40 offices. In all our recruitments we offer a guarantee so that our clients can rely on us to do our utmost to secure the best candidate. Having worked in and built much of our network today within Finance & Legal I would say we have thorough insights into the market and have a good understanding of what candidates know and don't know, what they want and don't want. Knowing what is relevant we can advise on and facilitate a constructive dialogue and work more efficiently in a recruitment process.
Being active in our networking and meeting with clients and candidates regularly we gain knowledge of growing trends and challenges within the industry and are able to apply this information in our assignments. We work extensively with knowledge exchange in order to best share and utilize our acquired competence within our own organisation, which I think benefits our clients.
One trend we are seeing now is that clients are asking for candidates with a strong business interest, which is something becoming central in many of the legal roles we are conducting. This is of course directly related to various organisational changes we are seeing and increasing demands for improved collaborative efforts between teams within a company. We also see new combinations of profiles, such as being CFO and Vice President, or Chief Legal Officer but also able to act as the CEO's right hand. In some cases, we are being asked to find a CFO who should also work with business development or be an expert in M&A. Other times we might be asked to find a Finance Director with an ability to support as a Business Controller as well. Companies are trying to increase integration between different functions within the business and prevent silo mentality. They are searching for candidates with an ability to see the best for the organisation as a whole and not just for the specific department. This makes our job as recruitment consultants all the more challenging and I like to think that as the roles become more complex our advisory role will become more valuable.
Sophie Lempert, Consultant team Finance & Legal
M: +46 73 095 71 04