Why talented employees are leaving finance – and how to keep them engaged

Your young talent hates wasting its time in PowerPoint and has other options lined up.

Top business school graduates who have spent years studying finance do not want to align boxes in PowerPoint. Nobody does. And sure enough, repetitive tasks will drive them to leave for better opportunities in tech – unless they are challenged more and bored less.

With unemployment at its lowest in nine years in the EU, competition for young talent is heating up. The financial sector in particular is witnessing an additional tension: after spending day in and day out executing repetitive tasks, millennial knowledge workers are more willing to leave their comfortable spots at established companies in favor for more exciting, albeit riskier, prospects.

For finance directors who don’t want to lose their driven employees, the answer is to recognise this shifting employment landscape, and most importantly, keep them happy.

Relieve them from repetitive and boring tasks

Conventional wisdom will state that suffering with hundreds of slides on late nights is part of climbing the financial ladder. While it is true that young talent needs to learn the ropes and do their time on large decks, too many hours are allocated to slide grunt work considering the outsourcing opportunities.

Outsourcing cumbersome desk tasks like PowerPoint presentations and investors mappings enable entry-level workers to get more involved with holistic activities, such as stepping into project manager roles.

By having employees focus on what they do best, outsourcing research encourages efficiency and leaves extra room to start on more projects. Time-consuming assignments such as bottom-up market descriptions, PDF compilation, lead generation and peer group analysis can all be done quickly with outside support and still give you the edge over your competitors.

Now more than ever, specialised companies, such as Copenhagen-based no-more, are helping knowledge workers realize their potential by taking all the menial work off of their hands.

Protecting your young talent is more important than ever

Finding driven people to hire is one thing, protecting this new talent is another. Personal growth and satisfaction must be explicitly acknowledged in the workplace.

In a recent report surveying 157 countries, 56 per cent of employees feel that they don’t have any opportunities to advance their career, and 53 per cent expressed that they haven’t significantly improved their skills in the last year.

The study reveals a deep-seated problem within companies to ensure employee morale and motivation. Without a clear sense of purpose, employee satisfaction and engagement plummet, while work-related stress emerges, costing companies up to €20 billion (£18 billion) a year.

Luckily, companies can prevent these setbacks by aligning themselves with millennial workers’ top values, which can be achieved through business support services that free up room for young talent to truly pursue their goals.

Keep talented millennials by understanding their priorities

For millennials, development of leadership skills is the most prized value a company can provide. Thus, encouraging personal growth among young talent is paramount.

However, ambitious post-grads are often relegated to unstimulating duties in the bottom of the hierarchy such as ensuring consistency across pitch decks, identifying buyer targets, and compiling market descriptions. You can’t get farther away from gaining leadership skills than this.

Consequently, disillusionment emerges pretty early on. Joining the financial workforce can be a shock for highly driven and talented graduates. You spend two years of business school focusing on company strategy and mapping but then ultimately end up doing hours of hours of highly repetitive desk research work.

It’s no surprise then that if given the choice, almost half of millennials would quit in the next two years. In fact, 60 per cent of those aged between 22 and 32 have switched jobs between one and four times in the last five years.

Your competitors for talent are not who always who you think they are

Historically, banks and financial institutions have been able to recruit the smartest minds from the most prestigious schools.

Times are changing, however, and the scope of employment in the finance sector is seeing a loss. The number of Harvard Business School students pursuing a career in finance has been sharply declining over the last five years. 35 per cent of MBA graduates entered into finance in 2012, whereas in 2016 the number dropped to 28 per cent. In contrast, the number rose from 12 per cent to 19 per cent for those going into the tech industry.

Instead of following the traditional path of finishing school and heading straight into finance, the leaders of tomorrow are zeroing in on tech and start-ups. The exciting, innovative nature of the tech industry is enough to entice these young professionals, especially if the job offers more important responsibilities than just building pitch decks.

Your employees are wasting 41 per cent of their time on non-core assignments – change starts now

As it turns out, knowledge workers on average allocate 41 per cent of their time on discretionary assignments that could be easily handled by someone else. The result? Overall stagnation in the innovation process that turns into productivity loss and resignations due to boredom.

Keep finance interesting, and keep your best employees engaged. No more wasting hours in PowerPoint.

Anders Thomsen is the CEO and founder of no-more. He is a former investment manager at CataCap, a Danish private equity fund, and previously served as an associate at McKinsey & Company.

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