Bev Shah: We need to fix the investment management hiring process

Print First published: March 20th 2018; Last Updated: February 3rd 2022

This article first appeared in Investment Week, 20th March, 2018

This week, I am taking a closer look at the recruitment process in investment management. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' is the well-known phrase, but the problem is it is broken in our sector. 



I am neither a recruiter, nor have I ever worked in human resources. But as an ex-fund analyst, I spent my career analysing processes. And the first thing I used to look at was the output. If the end product or outcome is consistently not delivering, then you know something is not working in the process. 


The recruitment process we have means we have ended up with an imbalance in the workplace. So, we need to go back to basics and look at the entire process end-to-end. This includes the way in which we think about the roles we want to fill, the advertising of these roles, and the entire interview and appointment process. 


There is a stat that is always thrown around that men apply for a job when they only meet 60% of the criteria, but women only apply if they meet 100%. I do not know the origin of this statistic, but it feels right.


What gives men the confidence to apply for a role they are not wholly qualified for, while women do not have this confidence? Maybe we should think about how we are wording the job specifications, whether to ensure more women apply or only qualified men. 


We need to accept men and women approach things differently, then look at how we can level the playing field. If we know we are only attracting maths students and academics, then stop asking for finance degrees and CFAs.


Intelligence and passing exams are not the same thing. If you want to encourage innovation and diverse thinking, you need to start thinking differently about how you attract those people. More firms are now requesting that recruiters give them a balanced list of diverse talent - 50/50 male/female. This has its pros and cons.


We already know the pool for diverse talent is smaller, so we must ensure that only the right candidates - diverse or otherwise - are being put forward. No matter what, all candidates entered for a job should be of a certain calibre. 


Meanwhile, human beings are tribal, so it is no surprise that we feel comfortable hiring in our own image. But we are now more aware of unconscious bias behavioural traits.


So, the use of blind CVs with no gender or background indicators could be a start to ending discrimination in the candidate screening process, and then there would be no question that a candidate was given an interview on anything but merit.


In addition, diverse hiring panels at interview stage could further help with tackling unconscious bias. At the end of the day, the job should always go to the best candidate on merit.


But we should also ensure that the best candidates, regardless of gender or background, have an opportunity to apply and are given a fair shot at being hired.



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