TFI Talent Talks Webinar Recap: The Financial Services Talent Marketplace with Robert Half, Scotiabank and Intact

Julie Bryski

Posted by Julie Bryski on December 7, 2020

On November 4th, we continued TFI’s 3-part webinar series with the second session, entitled “The Financial Services Talent Marketplace”. Three senior talent leaders engaged in a panel discussion to share their perspective on current talent marketplace trends, the shifting skills landscape and the positive impact of the increased spotlight on diversity and inclusion:

  • Stephen Mill, Senior Group Managing Director, Robert Half Executive Search, Canada
  • James Spearing, Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition, Scotiabank
  • Denise Thompson, Vice President, Human Resources Capital Management, Intact

The panel was moderated by TFI’s Senior Vice President, Talent Initiatives, Sashya D’Souza.

The following is an overview of key insights shared in the session.

Topic: Emerging trends in the talent marketplace

An increase in talent availability
Scotiabank’s talent acquisition team is seeing more available talent in the marketplace, and access to different segments of the market has increased – particularly talent who may not have previously considered large organizations as a place to continue their career. While the available talent has grown, reaching passive candidates with critical skills has become more difficult and different outreach tactics are needed here.

The increased focus on diversity and inclusion is an important trend as organizations seek to find and retain diverse talent. A strong and well-articulated employee value proposition continues to be an important tool to attract new talent across a variety of talent pools.

James: “We love seeing the increase in applications and the increased diversity of candidates. Diverse candidate pools are something we feel are very important in order to increase our diversity as an organization while looking for the right candidate based on the requirements of the role.”

Focus on the Employee Value Proposition
Intact has found that what candidates look for in an employer is shifting. An Intact survey of potential candidates listed their top three requirements as:

  1. Compensation and benefits
  2. A caring employer
  3. Flexibility

The candidate experience continues to be important, and adjustments have been made to deliver a great experience virtually. As candidates cannot be invited into offices to see the workspace and experience the culture first hand, Intact focuses on a high-touch recruitment process – including extending the interview process and inviting more people into the conversation.

“People are spending more time in the interview process asking about who you are as an employer, and really trying to understand what it is that you offer, and how you care for your people.”

- Denise Thompson

Increased demand for technology and change skills
In its work with senior executives across a variety of industries, Robert Half Canada has noted an increased demand for advanced technology skills at all levels – up to and including executives. The shift to remote work has created a demand for tech-savvy professionals who are capable of leveraging technology in their day-to-day work. Companies are looking for talent who can work independently and demonstrate flexibility, agility and the ability to be a change agent.

A focus on diversity and inclusion continues to grow from a corporate culture perspective, which has emphasized the need for leadership skills. Leaders are increasingly being asked to create and foster an environment where team members experience a sense of belonging, even while working apart.

Stephen: “Work and roles are changing rapidly and employers are prioritizing talent with the ability to pivot quickly and a willingness to embrace change on a day-to-day basis.”

Topic: The impact of the changing marketplace on skills

An increased focus on behaviours
It is estimated that 40% of the jobs in the marketplace have changed. Intact sees this as positive change as technology allows roles to be less focused on administrative tasks, with more emphasis on complex work and customer-driven activities. Talent conversations are focusing less on skills and more on behaviours and competencies, which allow people to pivot and use their skills in different contexts.

New roles have emerged during COVID, using technology to help keep employees and customers safe. In Calgary, drone masters were employed to support the claims process by providing accurate damage information from customer sites, quickly and safely.

Denise: “People who are curious, are problem solvers, can adapt to change, and who have social intelligence skills will be able to make changes and pivot in their existing role or in a new one.”

Communications skills for the virtual age
As employees connect virtually, and use different technologies to impart information, Robert Half reports that effective communication skills are more critical than ever. Written and verbal communication skills are increasing in importance, and storytelling continues to be a valuable tool for engaging customers and internal teammates while working remotely.

Work has changed all over the world in response to COVID-19. Candidates at all levels, who can identify the changes needed, be flexible, and pivot quickly will continue to be in demand. As organizations navigate a constantly changing and unpredictable job market, they are seeking professionals who demonstrate agility and a flexible attitude. Companies are open to new ideas and recognize that the best answers to today’s business challenges will come from employees at all levels of an organization – not just from senior management.

Stephen: “There's a real necessity to review your own library of skills as it relates to how you interact with people virtually.”

Digital skills and the drivers of change
Organizations are on a continual transformation journey and COVID-19 has accelerated that for many companies, sparking innovations in automation and rapid overall business transformation. Scotiabank reports that digital skills to enable customers and employees to engage virtually are critical. Other top skills to support on-going transformation include:

  • Leadership
  • Empathy
  • Resiliency
  • Technology
  • Agility and a growth mindset
  • Project management

James: “We are focused on EQ, empathy and resiliency – not just to deal with change, but to focus on wellness and to spot where others may need more support. These skills are critical for leaders at every level, and team members alike.”

Topic: Removing barriers and driving increased diversity through talent acquisition

Taking accountability… and driving sustainable change
Intact recognizes that the events that occurred this summer and sparked the renewed focus on diversity were real tragedies. In North America, black, indigenous, and many other communities have been subject to systemic racism. This has led to a cycle of poverty for many, and the pandemic has exacerbated these issues. Intact is determined to build sustainable processes for real change. To that end, a number of initiatives have been launched:

  • Collecting more robust data on the composition of the current Intact employee base, to better understand the internal community, and the employee experience
  • Launching inclusion circles to gain employee feedback on priorities and action plans
  • Committing to the Black North initiative, with the goal to hire at least 5% of Intact’s student workforce from the black community
  • Reviewing the end-to-end recruitment process and historical data to minimize bias, understand past approaches and determine where changes can be made
  • Developing education for leaders on the recruitment process to minimize bias, expand the talent pool, and remove barriers for diverse candidates

Denise: “I really see an acknowledgement of corporate responsibility and the willingness to take action, both at Intact, and more broadly from our peer group in the marketplace."

Using in multi-faceted approach… to bake into culture
Increasing diversity is a critical topic at Scotiabank. The connection between the talent acquisition team, the broader Human Resources team and the business is important to identify and work toward solutions together.

As a federally regulated employer, Scotiabank has a good foundation of data on diversity and recently refreshed this data with an updated employee survey. The employee survey had a 90% completion rate, providing Scotiabank with excellent data to identify opportunities.

Other areas of focus include:

  • Working with internal employee groups across different businesses to better understand the employee experience.
  • Incorporating diversity goals into leadership scorecards and highlighting leadership accountability.
  • Reviewing external partnerships to ensure the alignment of goals and the potential to achieve real impact.
  • Investing in program roles within the talent acquisition function to develop strategy, build partnerships and work with recruiters on specific programs to diversify the talent pipeline.
  • Working with hiring managers to look critically at skills and experiences needed and explore non-traditional sources and candidates.
  • Developing targeted plans to increase diversity in the executive pipeline

James: “As a newer employee of Scotiabank, I wanted to dig in to understand Scotiabank's approach on diversity and inclusion to assess if it was real and making an impact on the culture. I am very happy that my initial perceptions have come to life, in terms of how critically important it is.”

We would like to thank our panelists, Stephen Mill, James Spearing, and Denise Thompson, for sharing their experiences and on-going initiatives so openly, and our webinar participants, for enthusiastically engaging in the Q&A segment that followed the discussion.

If you missed the summary of TFI’s first webinar, Lessons from the Pandemic, it can be accessed here.

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Stephen Mill
Stephen Mill

Senior Group Managing Director

Robert Half Executive Search, Canada Robert Half

James Spearing
James Spearing

Vice President, Global Talent Acquisition


Denise Thompson
Denise Thompson

Vice President, Human Resources Capital Management