3 Ways Financial Services Companies Can Resolve the Unicorn Drought in Australia

In this article we discuss the current talent (or Unicorn) drought in the Australian financial services industry and the only possible ways that we can see it being resolved. Read on to discover why paying higher salaries is the most effective way to beat the competition to land a rare and especially talented Unicorn for your next open role.

In our many years of experience in financial services recruitment, 2020 and 2021 have been years like no others. Our industry had a focus on cost cutting and attempting to maintain business as usual in a strange holding pattern under challenging circumstances. Organisations paused or froze head count increases and recruiters wondered what curve ball could possibly be coming next.
And then things quickly changed…. Australia was relatively successful in managing Covid-19 and the economy bounced back and life returned to something resembling normality. Consumer confidence is up, the unemployment rate is down, the real estate market is booming, and many experienced staff that experienced redundancy are now back gainfully employed.
There are now more available roles than we have seen in a long time. According to the AFR, they are at a 12 year all time high and 23% above pre-pandemic levels. The only problem is trying to fill them all! We are well and truly facing a talent shortage in the Australian financial services industry. At Oxygen Recruitment & HR we are particularly seeing this across roles in credit, accounting, lending and finance.
There are 3 possible ways to deal with this talent shortage and financial services companies are going to have to seriously consider all of them if they want to be able to fill available roles.

1. Increase the Salary Offered
Our recruiters are constantly having the same conversation with clients and candidates. The client describes what they are looking for. They tend to be after many years of product and industry experience plus a high-quality candidate who is a good cultural fit and prepared to accept the salary on offer. That is, they are looking for a unicorn – a mythical creature who is not often seen or found. The salary range they are offering for this rare beast is the same as that being currently offered by their competitors.
The recruiter then spends hours hunting for candidates who could be enticed out of their current roles, all who tend to be saying that the salary on offer is not enough to justify leaving their current organisation.
The financial services industry over recent years has made significant progress in culture, retention programs, flexibility and employee benefits. Many of them are award-winning workplaces. So much so that, often, there is no longer much difference between one corporate culture and another…. not enough to attract someone away from a comfortable job. It is becoming more difficult for a financial services brand to stand out from another in the competition for talent attraction.
We really are getting to an impasse.
Candidates should take some time to understand that they hold many of the cards in today’s job market and that now is exactly the time to negotiate market value rates. They should do their research and understand exactly how much they are worth.
Clients should be updating their salary benchmarking information as this data is sometimes 2 years old and potentially out of date. Alternatively, they will continue to experience hard to fill roles and shorter than usual short lists.

2. Move Quickly

Talented and job ready candidates are fielding multiple offers. Those employers that move too slowly to short-list, interview or make an offer are missing out on their first preference when they are snapped up quickly by the competition.
These applicants have generally sat tight in 2020 in the face of economic uncertainty and are now ready to make a move to get away from flat wage growth, a boss that they do not get along with or a company culture that no longer suits their lifestyle, but employers need to act fast.

3. Invest in Training

When roles are advertised on job websites, we are seeing far less candidates than usual applying. Head hunting is becoming the norm for almost all roles to even begin to fill out a short list.
Organisations that cannot afford to increase salaries on offer will need to invest the time and money to train less experienced candidates to fill their available roles. It is unrealistic to expect a new recruit to hit the ground running unless they are supported, supervised and trained appropriately.
Organisations may need to look to graduate intake programs, internships, and detailed talent succession planning to ensure they have the experience and resources they need for any intended company growth.

As we approach the perfect storm in the recruitment market for financial services there will be a tipping point. Talent or Unicorn shortages and a significant number of available roles can only coexist for a limited time. We recommend that clients start talking internally about salary benchmarking and salaries being offered for new starters. Consider having a round table discussion that talks frankly about the mismatch between candidate expectations and what is on offer. Talk to colleagues in the market about what salaries they are offering and if it is the same… consider boosting yours.
Fears of having to increase salaries for all staff to maintain equity and transparency may just be a trade off in a thriving economy in post Covid-19 Australia. There are certainly many worse things businesses could be facing.

To talk to us about your next recruitment campaign and how you can access our network of talented financial services candidates then get in touch with our Sydney based team here. We can help you find your next high performer.