Cara Executive Search has Founder Yvonne Crocker at the Helm. London based Yvonne reveals to IIBN that Cara Executive Search provides talent acquisition support across the UK, Europe and the USA for financial services and fintech firms. Yvonne went on to say that we work with global asset managers, boutique investment funds, wealth managers, fintechs and start-ups, as well as with firms who provide services to the investment management sector. We develop genuine, long-term connections with individuals seeking new roles and provide career mentoring and advice. Having a background in industry – on the buy-side within corporate and investment banking – means that we have an extensive network and a deep understanding of the sector.

You can visit the Cara Executive Search website here

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

As well as working with our larger clients, we are passionate about supporting founders and MDs of start-ups and SMEs with high-quality, but cost-effective, executive search services and we introduce them to high-calibre individuals who can help drive their business forward. Executive search is often perceived to be high cost and low value: we turn that on its head and take pride in delivering high quality research at transparent and fair fee levels.

In terms of engagement with individuals, we focus on the alignment of a candidate’s personal and professional aspirations with the roles we hire for and we love introducing them to more enriching opportunities. This is even more gratifying when it involves a career returner or an individual who has been out of work.

What are your biggest challenges?

Whilst a high proportion of recruitment was put on pause at the start of the COVID crisis, the fintech sector has been actively hiring throughout this period. In other parts of the financial services industry, from early September we have seen hiring volumes start to pick up. However, certain segments of the banking and investment management market continue to go through structural changes and reorganisation and we help individuals pivot.

How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?

Client meetings and applicant interviews have moved online and candidate onboarding has successfully taken place remotely. In many cases, this has made the recruiting process more efficient, but we and our clients have worked harder to convey the firm’s culture to prospective candidates and in turn interviewees have contended with presenting themselves well via video platforms. Pitching to new clients remotely was initially a challenge, but we found that we can still effectively convey expertise and engender trust over a series of video meetings.

What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?

The challenge for the executive search industry is to disrupt itself to match the scale of change within the broader financial services sector. Whilst clients have bolstered their internal talent acquisition teams to save on external recruitment costs there is still a place for executive search, particularly with difficult-to-fill roles, confidential projects, advising on diversity and inclusion, reaching passive candidates, acting as a brand ambassador. However, in this new world order, executive search firms need to offer a value proposition to reflect the cost constraints of clients.

The key issues for our financial services clients are talent-related with businesses concerned not only with attracting and retaining talent, but also developing the next generation of leaders. Board diversity and succession planning remain key concerns as is ensuring the right skillset at senior levels across digital marketing, innovation, emerging technology and cybersecurity. Clients are also mindful of having an authentic employment brand and are seeking individuals who can bring fresh ideas.

What new trends are emerging in your industry?

We have long been evangelists for flexible working patterns and remote working options for all employees, as we feel that this is the key to improving diversity and inclusion, supporting career returners and retaining employees. One positive development that arose from the global pandemic is that we are living through an active test case for full or partial remote working; it is encouraging that many firms we are close to have observed increased productivity levels during this time.

But we need a balanced approach, particularly in terms of the co-existing of family and work commitments for parents – those with young children had faced enormous challenges with home-schooling during lockdown. Also, younger candidates still need mentoring and coaching from more experienced team members and we must be cognisant of the impact of remote working on mental health, with some new joiners expressing loneliness and difficulty with fitting in.

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

The Diversity & Inclusion (“D&I”) movement has gained momentum in recent months, but executive search consultants in the financial services sector must continue to support their clients in the progression of diversity and inclusion in all its forms. Cara are trusted advisors for our clients; that trust is key when we ask firms to think outside the box when making a hire, not only to advance the D&I agenda but also to benefit their business: in a 2018 study, McKinsey reported that companies in the top-quartile for gender and ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams were significantly more likely to outperform on profitability. Our advice can involve the careful crafting of job descriptions to avoid biased language, recategorising “essential” characteristics to “desirable” to reduce social mobility obstacles as well as the inclusion of talented, but non-obvious, candidates in shortlists – often these turn out to be the star candidates!

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Never give up, be tenacious, bring your whole self to work and business life.

Don’t be afraid to be authentic, open and empathetic – that’s when true connections are made and serendipity can thrive.

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Working closely with fintech firms; making key strategic hires for our clients; introducing individuals to new career opportunities; continuing to expand our network; making interesting and genuine connections and getting the opportunity to connect with existing contacts in a more rounded, less “corporate” way, such as when a client’s adorable toddler joins a Zoom call, a candidate’s cat insists on lying on the keyboard during a meeting and another’s vinyl record collection in the background sparks a lively conversation!

What’s next for your company?

To continue to build the Cara brand, support existing clients, work with new firms, help individuals with their career goals and to scale the business so we can provide regular work placement opportunities and internships to young people in order to specifically target social mobility.


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