Fancy a new job? Get on your bike

The ‘new normal’ in alternative assets extends to recruitment, where some unconventional settings are being used for hiring processes.

Earlier this week, Private Debt Investor caught up with Will Invine of London-based executive search company Stem7 to find out how the recruitment market in alternative assets has changed amid the pandemic. The resulting podcast will be released soon, but below are five insights gleaned from the conversation.

Interviews go ahead, but decisions are on hold: Many alternative assets firms introduced a hiring freeze when covid-19 began spreading globally, and this pause is likely to continue until the full impact of the pandemic is known. The good news is that a healthy number of firms are still keen to hire. These firms will generally conduct video interviews to take the process so far, then wait until they have had the chance to meet the candidate in person before making a final decision.

Processes are becoming creative: Many interviews, particularly at an early stage of the hiring process, are unsurprisingly taking place by way of video calls – whether one-to-ones, group conversations, presentations or technical assessments. But as lockdowns have begun to be relaxed and socially distanced meetings have become possible, creative approaches have emerged. Invine says one candidate had a final-stage interview during a bike ride. Recruiting firms and candidates have also come together on golf courses and tennis courts.

Some well-positioned funds are especially bullish: Whether immediately before or after the outbreak, some managers have raised big new funds and need extra resources to deploy the capital. Some of these managers feel they are well-positioned because, for example, they have flexible investment mandates or are focused on sectors on which the pandemic has had less of an impact. The current environment has led to a particular demand for portfolio managers and investor relations professionals, and there has been a relatively strong push to hire in these areas.

Candidates are nervous about committing virtually: There are two sides to the same coin: while recruiters are concerned about making offers before meeting candidates in person, the candidates themselves are also holding back from making pledges to join new firms until they have had a chance to meet up with their would-be employers. They are finding it hard to judge whether they will get on well with people they are only seeing on video screens. There is, however, little evidence of covid-19 having destroyed career ambition. Invine has found a large number of candidates who are willing to look beyond current circumstances and take a long-term view.

Big hitters have taken big hits and want a way out: One of the more intriguing candidate types today is the senior, experienced professional whose current fund has taken a pounding and, having calculated what this means for their compensation, has decided that now may be the time to walk and seek a new opportunity. These are candidates who might very well not have been open to moving before the latest crisis.

Write to the author at andy.t@peimedia.com.