02:02 PM
Alan Geller
Alan Geller
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Trust & Commitment In Today's Financial Services Industry

We know that consumers don't trust financial services firms, but The Caring Recruiter points out that financial services industry employees don't even trust each other.

Editor's Note: Alan Geller, managing director at AG Barrington, will write a regular column titled "The Caring Recruiter."

After reading the following email exchange you may simply think that it's just an example of what happens when a job candidate removes himself or herself from consideration for an opportunity. "Suck it up," some of you might say, "it's a harsh business."

Harsh business or not, this is the third time in two weeks that I've witnessed this type of behavior from financial services industry professionals that mysteriously vanish as quickly as they appear -- not caring one iota about the wreckage left in their wake.

Similarly, it seems that many hiring managers don't care a whole lot either. As a managing director of a global stock exchange recently confided to me: "I'll go through the motions for them (his employer) but I honestly don't care. Why? Because they don't care."

I'm sorry, if we truly don't want another subprime mortgage crisis, or another Ponzi scheme and/or another insider trading scandal to occur anytime soon, someone needs to care!

I urge you to look beneath the surface here to the confusion, distrust and opaqueness that characterize the financial services industry as a whole. An economy can be said to be the sum total of its transactions and transactions are driven by individuals.

What will you do when you're in a meeting with your senior management or a client and doing the right thing is thrown out the window for expediency because "that's the way we've always done it around here?" Will you go with the flow? Or, will you not take the path of least resistance and actually do something about the situation?

The lack of consideration, which translates to a lack of trust, is found throughout the industry. Recently, I received this short note from a candidate:


I appreciate the time you spent discussing the opportunity with me. After careful consideration I've decided this is not an opportunity I would like to pursue at the moment. Again, I appreciate your taking the time and the conversation.

In response to this candidate, I sent the following reply:

Dear Candidate,

I mean this sincerely and with all due respect. Up until now I've lived up to my word:

1. I presented you with the high-level details of an opportunity that you said that you were "definitely interested in."

2. Based on your "definite interest" I then forwarded you the specifics about the opportunity.

3. We spent approximately half an hour discussing your professional reasons for wanting to leave your present position (at a leading multi-billion dollar global financial technology provider) due to your perceived "lack of advancement and growth potential within your division."

4. We discussed the Solution Architecture opportunity in-depth, which you stated that you wanted to pursue and I attempted to obtain specific information about your background, skills and accomplishments which would enable me to present you in the best possible light.

5. For the second time, you expressed interest in pursuing the opportunity and explicitly committed to forwarding your resume for formal consideration.

When a representative from an admired, Fortune 100 organization such as yours makes a business commitment, I take it seriously and fully expect them to live up to their word.

I find this behavior disappointing. As financial services industry professionals, our stated commitments need to mean something. Progress cannot substantially be made by individuals whose unwritten creed is to take two steps backward for every step forward.

There's no need to go back on one's word. Life shouldn't be so uncertain that professionally we simply cannot accept the word of our fellow man (or woman) at face value.

In response to my email, I received the following:


I apologize if I may have made you feel that you've wasted your time.

Fearing the candidate was missing my point, I replied:

Dear Candidate,

This isn't about wasting my time. This is about honoring your word.

Tell me: What practical basis do we have to move forward together if you're the type of individual that reconsiders your commitments so quickly?

What if an employer made you a commitment in the form of an offer to join their firm and you accepted and resigned from your current position only to receive an email the next morning that, "after careful consideration we've decided to rescind your offer?"

Please consider the impact on lives and the unnecessary inconvenience that such next day consideration causes to others.

Do you think the industry is suffering from a lack of trust? Let me know in the comments below.

Alan Geller is the Managing Director of AG Barrington, a specialized financial technology recruitment and placement firm. View Full Bio
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Greg MacSweeney
Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2014 | 2:47:26 PM
Committed vs looking
I think Alan was describing a situation where the candidate was in the later stages of looking for a job and may have already had a job offer.

That said, there is a tremendous amount of time wasted by business people who are only "going through the motions." For instance, for every sale that is completed maybe two dozen proposals are generated, meetings are held, travel costs are incurred, and so on. How many of the deals that were not completed because of clients who really weren't serious about buying? And how many didn't buy because they didn't like the price, or the offer?

Those are 2 very different things. The clients, or job seekers, who aren't serious are wasting everyone's time. But the ones who find a better deal, that's just business.
User Rank: Moderator
8/13/2014 | 12:58:09 PM
Re: trust and commitment
Interviewing for a job is not a commitment. There is no commitment until an offer is accepted by the job seeker. Once the offer is accepted, both sides have made a commitment. Until that point, both sides are trying to get the best deal. If another employer comes in with a better offer, so be it. 

If an employee accepts an offer, and then a counter offer comes in that is better, that is when there is a problem. If the employee accepts the counter offer, they will burn their bridge with the recruiter and with the other employer. If the employee honors their commitment, they kept their word, but they may be in a role they don't exactly want, at a smaller salary. That's is a tough decision to make.
User Rank: Author
8/13/2014 | 12:24:36 PM
Re: trust and commitment
So it's OK for candidates to go back on their commitment to a new employer and accept last minute counter-offers? It's OK for employers to back out of hiring decisions on a regular basis? 

Would anyone else like to comment on this?
User Rank: Moderator
8/13/2014 | 10:26:51 AM
Re: trust and commitment
I don't thnk many workers completely 'trust' their employers anymore. Complete, absolute trust? Definitely not. 

I do trust some of the people I work with, but I certainly do not trust everyone. Is that a problem? Yes, and no. 

I don't think this is different in other industries. I'm pretty sure it is healthy to have some scepticism about your employer and what your employer says and does. Unless you drank the koolaid, it's hard to not read between the lines. 

There are also many other reasons why a candidate does, or does not, take a job. Perhaps the candidate received a strong counteroffer from their current employer (an offer too good to refuse, perhaps?). Perhaps, something changed in their personal life. Also, as SusanV828 says, employers back out of hiring decisions just as often.
User Rank: Author
8/10/2014 | 11:10:53 AM
Re: trust and commitment
Susan, I too have heard of situations where candidates go on multiple interviews to land a position in financial services technology company, and are turned down after investing many hours in the interviewing process.

I can also understand how a recruiter would feel a lack of trust and commitment when three times in a row separate candidates expressed interest in a senior position only to pull out after the recruiter spend considerable time and effort presenting their qualifications to a Fortune 100 company.  A job candidate can express interest and pull back, but at a certain stage, this can damage the recruiter's relationship with the company conducting the search.

It also reflects the uncertainty of the times - post financial crisis, rounds of layoffs at large companies. I think the candidates in these scenarios had doubts about pursuing the new positition. Maybe the candidate was just testing the waters, wanted to see how the market valued them, and weren't serious in the end.

Akram Majed
Akram Majed,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/8/2014 | 3:26:26 AM
Interesting experience about Trust & Commitment In Today's Financial Services Industry
I have a similar experience for stock customer care but after going through some legal procedure I got my rights :)
User Rank: Author
8/7/2014 | 10:39:06 AM
Interesting to see this inside look at the recuriting process at a high level in financial services. It's hard to know really without being privy to the entire had conversations had between both parties, maybe his current employer suddenly offered a raise/better title. But your larger point is well taken, there needs to be trust in any industry.
User Rank: Apprentice
8/4/2014 | 10:00:13 AM
trust and commitment
Frankly I do not find the candidate's behaviour displays lack of commitment. As discussions progress in a job search, a candidate gets to "feel" and gets a better understanding of the offer and prospective empoyer as well as the recruiter. And this works both ways. I have heard of perfect candidates invest alot of time interviewing for a job and being denied the offer because one party on the interviewing team did not like their style and that was it. Chances blown because one person did not like you.

It would be interesting to see a poll done, "do you trust your employer/employees?", "do you trust your recruiter?" and "do you trust your manager?" I would respond "no" to each so there you go, there is a lack of trust in the financial services industry.

And in terms of commitment, I am commited to my job and doing it well to keep this industry in shape but I am not commited to my employer or manager and I expect there are many others who might share this sentiment. The common goal is service to the industry, it's the individuals and organizations that mess everything up. But this is the same outside financial services too, isn't it?
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