02:35 PM
Alan Geller
Alan Geller
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Are You a Career 'Exerciser' or 'Roadmapper'?

Almost all workers looks to improve their position and compensation. But certain individuals also look to provide added value to their employer. What type of employee are you?

US regulators recently let banks know that their "living will" bankruptcy plans weren't adequate, according to a Wall Street Journal article (subscription required). It seems regulators were none too happy with the preparations the banks had made for their living wills.

According to the article:

    In a sweeping rebuke to Wall Street, U.S. regulators said 11 of the nation's biggest banks haven't demonstrated they can collapse without causing broad, damaging economic repercussions and ordered them to show "significant" progress by July 2015.

    The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said bankruptcy plans submitted by big banks make "unrealistic or inadequately supported" assumptions and "fail to make, or even to identify, the kinds of changes in firm structure and practices that would be necessary to enhance the prospects for an orderly failure."

From the tone of the article, it appears that the banks are treating this as an exercise -- a useless regulatory drill they are only doing because of a mandate -- instead of providing regulators with a meaningful and concrete roadmap to address the problem.

The same can be said of how many financial services industry professionals treat their own careers. Most place status ahead of results and are vastly more interested in issues such as title, level, and compensation than they are in the professional contribution they make.

A note that I received yesterday underlines this point. This comes from an executive who asked to review information about a hands-on opportunity that contained no title information whatsoever:


    Thanks for this. Upon review, this appears to be a junior role.

    Please let me know if you have senior mgmt roles in the organization, MD/Partner roles.

Here is my reply:

    Dear Candidate,

    The people that I work with place results ahead of status, title and level. Does that hold true for you?

Here's his final response:


    Agree very much. There's also a financial component in this as well, right? Thanks for the info though.

Nothing in that response addresses why this individual should be placed in an MD or partner role. That would require too much effort, wouldn't it?

In fact, when I ask motivated financial services industry veterans who have prioritized making a career move to provide me with the specific information I need to represent their candidacy, they treat the whole thing as an exercise -- even going so far as to say: "I haven't thought about it that way. This is an interesting exercise."

Unfortunately, it's not an exercise. These same individuals are employed by the same banks that, as stated above, are making "unrealistic or inadequately supported assumptions" to regulators that require a concrete roadmap to fix a problem that could bring down our entire economy again.

This really leads to the question: Are you an "Exerciser" or a "Roadmappper" when it comes to your career?

If you're an "Exerciser," you'll view providing the following request for information and forward-looking statements about yourself as "too much work." If you're a "Roadmapper," you'll say, "Bring it on" and simply provide the requested responses.

Let's see how many Roadmappers are out there. I challenge the readers of this article to connect the dots about their professional capabilities -- independent of title, function, and compensation -- and clearly provide the following information:

  1. Target segment: Break this down by specific type of organization, specific division within that type of organization, and the forward-looking pain relievers or gain creators confronting the specific individuals (titles and functions) who could hire you, related to the markets they serve.
  2. Your objective: List the objective reasons your candidacy makes sense, taking into account your proven competence and track record of accomplishment, mapped to the above mentioned pain relievers and/or gain creators.

Please note that the roadmap starts with a target organization's situation, not your background and not what opportunities are available. Any takers?

Alan Geller is the Managing Director of AG Barrington, a specialized financial technology recruitment and placement firm. View Full Bio
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User Rank: Author
8/16/2014 | 11:36:53 AM
How far do you go before the interview?
It sounds like the 'excerciser' is reluctant to put too much energy into thinking about the employer before they know if they have an interview.  Wouldn't the roadmapper want to present this analysis at the time of the interview?  Perhaps job candidates don't want to go this far until they know they have a foot in the door, and until they know it's a senior position and that the compensation is in line with their expectations.
User Rank: Author
8/16/2014 | 12:34:27 PM
Re: How far do you go before the interview?
"Perhaps job candidates don't want to go this far until they know they have a foot in the door, and until they know it's a senior position and that the compensation is in line with their expectations."


Not perhaps. Definitely!  If you take into account a candidate's ability, motivation and attitude to make an impact as a so-called financial services market or industry insider, what does that say about the candidate? As an MD two levels below the CEO of a New York global investment bank and brokerage firm confided to me: "I can hire. Important work needs to be done around here and you don't need to be a genius to figure out what our problems are. It's literally front page news. The issue is that the level of talent required to fix our current pressing problems aren't for the most part employed by our organization or by our competition. They're not coming from our campus recruitment efforts nor are they being promoted internally.

That said, we compete for example with other Wall Street firms in equities prime brokerage. We're not currently a top three player on the prime brokerage league tables. If a candidate can walk in here and show us how they concretely catapulted their prime brokerage division into a top three position, I want to know about that candidate regardless of our formally approved openings."

Greg MacSweeney
Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2014 | 5:41:01 PM
Re: How far do you go before the interview?
I'm sure any business would hire anyone who could vault the company into the top 3 of their market, but that's a pretty tall order. Very rarely does someone come along who claims they could do that. And if they did come along, I'm sure that any hiring manager would be very skeptical. (maybe i'm too jaded, but that's just me!)
User Rank: Moderator
8/27/2014 | 8:14:01 AM
do your homework
I agree. 

As a hiring manager, I'm boggled by the number of candidates who come to a job interview with little knowlege about the company or the position. And many of these are mid level or senior candidates who have been in the industry for years.

At the very least, do a couple of web searches about the company, the bank, the people who you are meeting with, and come prepared. 
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