This month Deborah Kester, Head of HR since 2013 at investment management firm Man Group, talks to us about…
...HER ROLE AT MAN GROUP
I am the Head of Human Resources, covering all aspects of HR including employee relations, reward, recruitment, learning and development, diversity, performance management and employee engagement. I am responsible for a global HR team of 17 and the organisation has a global workforce of over 1,200. I am based in London, along with the majority of the HR team, although we also have teams in the US and Switzerland.
…CHANGES IN THE WORKPLACE
I joined the business in 2004 as a Recruitment Officer. When I joined, the firm was going through a huge growth phase and I was recruited because the small HR team was struggling to recruit quickly enough. Man Group, the sector and the external environment have changed hugely since then, against a backdrop of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent global financial crisis, as well as more recently the Brexit referendum. As a business and an HR function, we are always evolving and seeking to adapt - we are constantly evaluating what we do, how we do it and whether we are doing it in the best way. This is what keeps it interesting for me!
…TECHNOLOGY IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR
Man Group is a technology-driven business, and we firmly believe that fund management is an industry where technology has a real ability to make a difference over time.
There will always be a place for high quality discretionary managers – we certainly don’t think this will become a fully computerised industry – but technology has the potential to make people smarter and so presents a huge opportunity.
One exciting area we’re interested at the moment is machine learning (a form of artificial intelligence). This is something we’re committed to investing in, and we are very focussed on hiring people with a machine learning background.
…STARTING A CAREER IN FINANCIAL SERVICES IN 5 YEARS’ TIME
Get as much IT experience as you can! In the future it will be increasingly necessary for employees in the sector to be highly proficient in their use of IT, and experience in coding/programming will also be an asset. Strong technology skills will represent a competitive advantage in many financial services jobs as technology becomes an even more crucial part of the day to day role.
…FILLING ANY ANTICIPATED SKILLS GAPS OVER THE NEXT 10-15 YEARS
It is almost impossible to predict the skills gaps in this sector over the next 10 – 15 years, as the industry is so fast moving! However, it will be necessary to have strong technologists in the industry and we are focussed on recruiting people with these skills.
…DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES IN THE WORKFORCE
As an industry, we need to be more inclusive and to become more reflective of the wider context in which we operate. At Man Group, we are committed to being a meritocratic workplace, and we have given a lot thought to how we can be as attractive and inclusive as possible.
We partner with expert groups on inclusivity, such as SEO and City Gateway. Working with these partners, we seek to attract a broad range of candidates, particularly those from under represented backgrounds, as well as more generally to help young people who may be impacted by social and economic disadvantage or exclusion.
We also have a number of initiatives in place to support attracting, retaining and developing female employees, including a mentoring programme, a returner programme for people who have taken a career break, flexible working opportunities and non-monetary benefits.
We are constantly rethinking our offering and approach, assessing what will be important to our current and future workforce.
We therefore strive to be as attractive and inclusive as possible. We offer flexible working hours and where appropriate the ability to work from home as required, as well as additional non-monetary rewards that are more about lifestyle, and we are constantly rethinking our offering and assessing what benefits are important to the current and future workforce.
…SUGGESTED REGULATORY OR POLICY CHANGES
From an HR perspective, I think there needs to be a focus on ensuring that children are taught technology skills from an early age, including coding and basic programming. I think that technology education is moving in the right direction, but I hope that in future the education system will have progressed so that this is considered to be right up there, in terms of importance, alongside English and Maths.
…THE IMPACT OF FUTURE TRENDS OVER THE NEXT 10-15 YEARS
Our CTO is seeing machine learning and artificial intelligence becoming more important on his agenda. These techniques can drive opportunities within investment management and allow us to leverage other trends such as big data and predictive analytics.
In addition, distributed ledger technology (such as Blockchain) is expected to bring significant disruption to the industry on both buy and sell side by removing intermediary fees, reducing costs and accelerating exchanges e.g. reconciliations and settlements.
…HER FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE OF WORK
I genuinely feel that these are exciting times – the pace of change is rapid and we all have to evolve our approaches and develop new strategies simply to keep up. Innovation and bold decision making are vital. It is demanding and energising at the same time, and makes our sector a fascinating one to be a part of.
If you are a HRD and would like to share your own thoughts on the future of work in your industry, please do get in touch here.