Hiring super smart quantitative candidates, in a climate where there is a very real ‘war for talent’, needs a well thought out and considered plan – perhaps even more so than in other disciplines. People who see the world via extreme logic and reason need to be properly understood. Competition is incredibly fierce for Quant and Data Analytics professionals and a firm’s company culture and the scope of work of the hiring team will play a huge part in the attractiveness of any proposition. With the dawn of (Big) Data, ML and AI and how it is being utilised, even with any downsizing and hiring freezes, there remains a continued need for a battalion of Quants to manage and make sense of the Data. We are currently in a candidate driven market and this is especially so for the best in class Quant talent; so what can a hirer do to stand out from the plethora of options a top Quant may have?
- Actually understand that it IS a candidate driven market!
There are companies that are keeping up with changes in Analytics, there are those that are not. Banks, Consulting firms, Investment Firms and the like, need to understand that they are not the main options any more and that the playing field has changed. If you are hoping that your big brand name is enough to attract top talent through the door with the same tired approach and attitude, think again. You need to sell your proposition to the candidate just as much as they need to sell themselves to you as no doubt, there is a nice and shiny Fintech firm around the corner offering the right blend of environment, culture and technology. Make that 20 of those. On a side note, without doubt, the biggest bug bear of all in any hiring process is the speed at which you operate. Don’t leave it too long before you give any feedback, it’s just suicide. Around the corner is a firm that will conduct all their stages in a much shorter time span and bang an offer out too. Remember that.
- Top talent want to address challenging problems
Whilst money is undoubtedly an important factor (point 5.), often we see candidates choose a role that is paying less if the work is of more intrigue and the learning possibilities are greater. We are not hiring admin staff here, Quants want to address challenging problems and not simply ‘turn the wheel’. If your role/environment doesn’t offer flexibility, then look at how it can and offer bootcamps/Kaggle comps/courses to keep people enthused and interested. Your staff need to be motivated, so it is essential to understand what makes them tick.
- And use interesting tools and technologies
Traditional finance firms with their legacy systems and attitudes will fall behind the competition and it is essential that new tools and technologies are looked at and importantly, attitudes are shifted. Remember, there is always competition that can offer more and it is vital to not fall too far behind.
- Having the freedom to explore
People with strong academic backgrounds, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) shouldn’t be stifled too much. We know of quantitative hedge funds that have thrived massively due to heavy investment in technology coupled with offering an academic environment where there is the scope to explore and experiment. Opportunities in startups, fintechs and even challenger banks can offer blank slates without the decades of legacy architecture and ways of doing things that naturally offer more room for defining things. On the flip side, Investment Banking environments can sometimes become quite formulaic, niche or about management (and thus politics) and are an example of places where it is harder to adopt change. Either way, ask yourself – ‘how can we make this interesting?’ Many Quant and Analytics professionals run side projects as they are passionate about what they do. Is there a way you can incorporate/showcase what they may do in their own time in the workplace?
- Pay the $$$!
Unsurprisingly, Quants are pretty good with numbers as well as data, so if you want the best, don’t try and offer anything less than the best!
Whilst the aforementioned are just a few insights we often come across at Quantribute, it must be noted that staff retention is equally important as the hiring itself. It’s all very well getting someone in through the door with the promise of great career prospects – but can you consistently deliver on it? It is essential to understand in a STEM orientated candidate driven market that there will be firms offering modern, innovative, cutting edge environments and if you are a long term hirer of Quants, perhaps it’s time to sit down and assess what needs to change in order to stay current, competitive and relevant.
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