Will Wolf, Global Head of Talent Acquisition and Development for Credit Suisse, and Vina Dang, Managing Director for CareerBuilder, discussed strategies for attracting and retaining talent and how HR must adapt to changes in the next generation of workers.
Vina Dang: As the global head of talent acquisition and development at Credit Suisse, can you elaborate a bit on that role at the company?
Will Wolf: With the talent acquisition and development function at Credit Suisse, we’ve put together for the first time all the HR functions that help make someone successful. So we’ve got campus recruiting and all of our direct or lateral recruiting. We handle all internal mobility and internal moves and all the training at the junior and post-graduate level, and also some of the senior skill-based training as well. There are leadership-development programs, high-potential-talent programs, the promotion processes, the evaluation processes and workforce analytics, which is an interesting new people analytics capability for us. There is also a variety of other things like diversity and inclusion that really fit under this broader umbrella of making you successful during your career.
So what factors are changing the talent landscape in the banking industry? And how are you changing your priorities to adapt in response?
Banking is undergoing a profound set of changes, some of which are strategic and some driven by regulatory concerns. From a talent-development standpoint, it means we have to make better choices about people. We have to hire people that aren’t self-serving or bring giant fines or discredit to the bank. We also have different economics now because the regulators are asking us to pay higher base salaries across the board. In the cyclical market of finance, you used to be able to pay people a low base, and if they had a bad year, they had a bad year, and they’d make it back in a better year. But now we have to pay people more of a base, so there’s a higher fixed cost in the down times. That means we literally have to make better choices about who we hire because we have less flexibility.
On the competitive front, the fundamental nature of our business is changing. We’re a Swiss. bank, and it used to be that part of the value proposition was confidentiality. We now have to be much more aggressive about positioning our performance and the performance of our products, which takes a different kind of selling and service approach. So for the thousands of relationship managers that we have all over the world, they have to be retrained or replaced to deliver that.
It sounds like it’s really about understanding how to combat all those changes. What does modern HR mean to you, and how is technology changing expectations for that function?
The HR function is today where marketing was 30 years ago, when people used to joke about how they were wasting half their advertising budget but couldn’t tell you which half. Well, marketing doesn’t waste half their advertising budget anymore. They’re much more targeted toward how to deliver the things you want to you where you need them to be. HR is just beginning to develop the same type of data-driven intelligence
Vina, your company CareerBuilder is a great case example of a technology company that’s helping HR figure that out. Again, HR is just figuring out how data and analytics can help drive informed decision-making on people. How do we hire these better people that I’m talking about and how do we better motivate them more appropriately? When do they need training and development? How do we know when they’re likely to leave us, and what can we do to get out in front of that to make sure we’re not having enormous replacement costs for people who leave?
“Banking is undergoing a profound set of changes, some of which are strategic and some driven by regulatory concerns. From a talent-development standpoint, it means we have to make better choices about people.”
In your industry, it’s probably pretty common to have a large exiting workforce as well. What tactics have been the most effective for you in talent acquisition and rethinking the way that you attract the millennial generation?
With millennials and other generations alike, it’s expensive to replace people who leave. We’ve had this tradition in banking of being fixated on credentials; for instance, getting the vice president who does exactly this job from UBS or Morgan Stanley to replace one who’s just left. At Credit Suisse, we have made a commitment to fill open positions by hiring from within, or what we call “growing our own.” We’re trying to create the institutional bias to give right of first refusal for open roles to people inside the bank before we have to go outside. It doesn’t mean that we’re stopping external hiring. But as an illustration of the changes we’re making, three years ago, only 20 percent of open roles were posted where anybody in the bank could see them and apply. We’ve now gotten that up to about 80 or 85 percent. So we do some outside hiring still, but we’re now filling more than 60 percent of our internal managing director and director roles from inside the bank now as opposed to 40 percent three years ago. We are really investing in giving people opportunities inside the bank first, and that is becoming a part of our value proposition to talent. We want you to join Credit Suisse to build a career, not just to do a transactional jump from bank to bank as you go up the ladder. We want you to grow with us.
Speaking to that, just that connection to technology is what really resonates with the millennial generation. So how is technology – including apps, social media and mobile – changing the face of talent recruitment for you?
The millennials may react to it, but there’s a great cost-based reason to use technology as well. That means working with firms like CareerBuilder or LinkedIn to give us access to talent and them to us in ways that we never had before when it was all through intermediaries like headhunters and agencies. We spent just unimaginable amounts of money on agency hiring even just three or four years ago. That has come down substantially for us. Our cost-per-hire is half of what it was three years ago through using of some of these technology intermediaries.
Looking ahead, are there changes in the environment that you see impacting how talent is managed in the next 10 years?
I’ll make two remarks on that question. One is that we’re getting smarter about how we make decisions about people and their careers inside the bank. We have the ability now through our data-analytics team to look at 10 or 11 facts about you and calculate the probability that you’re going to leave us in the next year. It doesn’t mean that I can intercept everybody or save everybody, but it helps our managers focus on the emerging trouble spots. If they want to do something about it, they’re armed with information they can use to go out and do that. So we’re using technology and analysis in those ways.
I also think that one of the ironies in trying to create an environment where people can grow their careers inside is that it’s actually kind of counter to what is happening in the environment. Millennials are growing up being told that they’re going to have 10 jobs in their career instead of one; work is much more episodic and it feels more like work assignments than it does long-term commitments. So instead of fighting that, we’re trying to say that we want you to have those opportunities inside the confines of our bank where possible, because we know you and you fit our culture.
“Marketing doesn’t waste half their advertising budget anymore. They’re much more targeted toward how to deliver the things you want to you where you need them to be. HR is just beginning to develop the same type of data-driven intelligence.”
You talked about the fact that you’ve embraced the need to elevate your perception to the stereotypes that are very conventional to your industry. It sounds like that is an exciting time for you as you continue down this path of being innovative and finding different ways to access talent.
It’s changing what we’re looking for in people, so we’re much more careful about how we access risk in people coming into the bank. That’s an area for us that needs to be further developed.
So you really looked into making decisions for facts versus feelings, correct?
Yes, marketing now has great information on people on what they want, and they’re much more responsive and able to tailor products and so forth. We have to get there with HR, which is possible.
I’d love to hear more about your external branding effort that you mentioned. Right now, you’re doing internal, but how is that going to then reflect externally to your target talent? Because the two are different: internal value proposition is something that is authentic for companies with their current base. So what about your target talent, what is going to be the value proposition?
We’ve been at this for a few years now and what’s nice about being able to speak externally about it is that I can actually point to significant differences. The average tenure of a person at Credit Suisse is two years longer today than it was four years ago. The reason for that is we’re moving people internally and we’re giving them a reason to stay, so therefore they’re growing and getting promoted at every level of the bank. They’re staying and it’s helping us actually to build a culture.
As Managing Director for CareerBuilder, Vina Dang is responsible for global sales strategies and revenue growth for Fortune 1000 companies headquartered throughout the Northeast. Vina has nearly 15 years of diverse experience in staffing and recruiting, consulting on industry trends, business analytics and talent acquisition partnerships. She uses her expertise to advise various organizations on forward-thinking practices, employment branding and innovative technology solutions to enhance or achieve their human capital goals.
In 2006, Vina joined CareerBuilder, where she has worked with some of the world’s largest employers and designed effective recruitment strategies, aligning better workforce data and creating better user experiences to help her clients compete for talent.
Vina holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida.
Will Wolf is Managing Director and Global Head of Talent Acquisition and Development for Credit Suisse. In his current role, he manages campus and lateral hiring, training, leadership development, HR IT, workforce analytics, evaluation, assessment and all promotion processes. He joined Credit Suisse from McKinsey & Company, where he was a partner and leader in the organization practice. He holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School, where he was the Richard Jenrette fellow.