Succession – Market Update Apr 24

Simon RoderickMarket updates

Succession planning - market update - Simon Roderick

Succession – Market Update Apr 24

April 24, 2024
MD Simon Roderick on the Norwegian wealth fund, podcasts & the importance of succession planning.
Succession planning - market update - Simon Roderick

I’ve been struggling with a minor injury, but the good news is I’m getting back into the gym more regularly. It’s been a struggle! Like anyone, workouts are better with good new music and with some of my favourite artists seemingly taking a hiatus, I decided to listen to a podcast.

I’m married to a Norwegian and a source of great pride has always been their oil fund. It has transformed the country and is much loved by Norwegians to the extent you can get a live update on how much the fund is worth from the Norges Bank website. People do check it regularly too. Vast wealth gives you access at the top level and the CEO of Norges Bank, Nicolai Tangen, has cleverly decided to use this access to share insights from leading CEOs with the general public. It’s really interesting, and I’d recommend anyone in financial services to listen to the podcasts with James Gorman (Morgan Stanley) and Sergio Ermotti (UBS). They are very different characters on the surface, and great interviewees. However, there are areas of commonality and the area that stood out to me was on succession. Not the wonderful tv show, but succession within their businesses.

Both Gorman and Ermotti talk about it taking circa 20 years’ to have the right experience to run a large business. In a world of influencers and instant success, it’s interesting to hear their thoughts and their experiences of becoming a CEO. Both discuss the importance of moving people around in a business so that they understand how each department works. To summarise Gorman, he feels that success is when each executive in a firm could swap roles with ease. Ermotti talks about how much Merrill moved around top performers (almost too much at times in his view). Gorman specifically talks about the importance of investing in those in two or three grades down from his likely successors. In many senses, his immediate successors are the finished product but those further down the chain of command, those still developing their careers, are very important to invest in.

It’s interesting to me in my role on many levels, but particularly interesting when many firms in financial services (particularly asset managers) have had a very difficult 2023. It’s sometimes easy to overlook training, to sacrifice the long-term for the short-term, and I think that there is a real sense of frustration amongst candidates. In many cases, they’re working harder for less money, and internal opportunities are in short supply. From a talent management perspective, firms must keep their top performers engaged, particularly those who are earlier on in their career for whom three years can feel like a lifetime. We are already seeing signs of market improvement and unsatisfied colleagues will move on when the market changes. Unsatisfied doesn’t just mean underpaid. Actually, many people who have stayed in work aren’t complaining about salary. Salary costs have been one of the main challenges firms have faced, and this has accelerated redundancies, but unsatisfied often means not challenged. In my experience, people like to be busy and exposed to new challenges. CEOs set strategy, oversee governance, but in an industry with few differentiators, engaged talent is the difference between success and failure.

We’re still ahead here at Fram on roles registered vs. last year. Some areas are very busy and distorting the market, some are steady, and some areas quiet (finance and operations). However, talking to clients the mood is very much better than the end of last year. The FTSE is more cheerful too, which will be of a bit of a tailwind for those in wealth management.

If my team or I can assist with any hiring, or talent related issues, then don’t hesitate to contact me.

About Fram Search

Established in 2010, Fram Search is a specialist financial services recruitment consultancy. We focus on mid-to-senior hires in the UK and internationally.

We provide high quality contingent and retained recruitment services to boutiques and global brands. We have long established relationships, outstanding market knowledge, and access to deep talent pools. Fram takes a highly consultative approach, combining outstanding tech with a human approach. We are proud that our contingent fill rate is nearly three the industry average and we augment our retained search methodology with rigorous psychometric testing. We take ESG seriously, we are champions of diversity and all staff have undertaken unconscious bias training, we also carbon offset.

Please contact us on 01525 864 372 / [email protected] to learn more.

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