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Financial sector needs to rethink graduate strategy, or risk talent shortage, reports PwC


Financial services companies need a different approach to their graduates, or risk losing out when the job market improves PwC has warned.

Research from the consulting firm, found financial services firms need to adopt a different approach to their graduates' careers or risk the sector's current talent shortage growing further.

The report, published this morning, revealed a "significant gap" between what graduates working in the sector expect from their careers and employers and their actual experience.

The research found that over half (55%) of the graduates working in financial services made compromises when accepting a job during the downturn, which is likely to mean that as job opportunities increase with economic recovery, many graduates will be assessing whether their employers are acting on their promises.

Worryingly for the insurance sector, 45% of those surveyed who were working in the sector said their decision to take their current role was primarily down to their pressing need for a job.

Employers who fail to invest in this group and adapt their recruitment, retention and development programmes accordingly are likely to see less loyalty. The research shows that nearly half (48%) of millennials working in financial services (the group of graduates born between 1980 and 2000) are already actively looking for new opportunities and 42% are open to offers.

Only 10% of those surveyed said they were planning to stay in their current role for the long term. This means financial services companies will have to work harder than ever to retain the talent needed for their future growth plans.

Jon Terry, partner, PwC, said: "Financial services companies are already finding it hard to keep younger workers and this is likely to become even tougher as the job market starts to improve. This generation of graduates demand a different approach to recruitment, retention, management and development, which organisations simply can't afford to ignore. If companies fail to invest in trying to understand what drives this group, they face the real risk of losing large numbers of them to other companies when the job market picks up.

"Carrying on with the same approach to recruitment and retention is no longer an option. Millennials want more than 'just a job'. They expect a varied and interesting career, constant feedback and the opportunity to progress quickly. Their high expectations mean that companies might find it harder than ever to keep their best talent if they don't adapt their approaches to their development appropriately."

A shortage of talent is becoming a major business issue - according to recent PwC research among 368 financial services CEOs, around a quarter (25%) said they had to cancel or delay a key strategic initiative over the past 12 months because the right people weren't available to execute it. With 40% of the CEOs surveyed saying they think it will only get harder to hire good people in the future, due to the limited supply of appropriate talent, this underlines the need for firms to focus hard on appropriate approaches to the millennial group.

The reputation of financial services has suffered due to the financial crisis, with 21% of respondents saying they would rather not work in the sector. The millennial generation are extremely conscious of a company's reputation, with 61% of respondents saying they actively seek out employers whose corporate social responsibility values reflect their own. People working in the insurance sector seem to be particularly reputation-conscious, with 76% saying they would leave an employer whose behaviour no longer met their standards.

Terry added: "Financial services companies might have a tougher time competing against other industries for the reputation-conscious millennial generation, whose experience and expectations have been marred by the financial crisis. This generation of graduates actively seek out employers whose values reflect their own, so the sector's ability to restore trust and re-engage with society will be critical in attracting the best talent from current and future graduates."