Edel O’Malley - Basis Point

Edel O’Malley - Basis Point

May 21 2020

"What Basis.Point does is it puts together those people who want to make a difference and want to make a change with those who can" - Edel O'Malley's succinct description of what Basis.Point do.

We were delighted to have Edel on the show, particularly in light of their quickly established but effective Emergency Fund to help charity partners during Covid.

To donate, check out the Just Giving page mentioned - https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/Covid19emergencyfund

To find out more about Basis.Point - https://www.basispoint.ie/


Pete Townsend & Paul Smyth - COVID Special

Pete Townsend & Paul Smyth - COVID Special

April 06 2020

In this special episode, we welcome back Pete Townsend of Norio Ventures to discuss the impact Covid 19 is having on the FinTech, Blockchain and Financial Services market with Paul.


In this hour long special, we cover the opportunities and challenges for businesses operating and recruiting in this market, what Pete is seeing in areas like fundraising, transformational projects and who will come out of this stronger than ever while Paul gives an insight into the recruitment market and demand for coaching.


Please don’t forget to check out our complimentary 90 min coaching session offering through Possible.ie for any SMEs, leaders or HR professionals who could do with support during the Covid 19 crisis. Go to www.possible.ie/covid and tell us how we can help.



Understanding Brexit [With The British Irish Chamber of Commerce]

Understanding Brexit [With The British Irish Chamber of Commerce]

February 28 2020

Brexit has come to pass and will affect Irish business and employment for years to come.

We spoke with the former Brexit spokesperson at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, Katie Daughen, for her thoughts on how best to deal with this huge change.

Interview With Katie Daughen [Former Spokesperson at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce]

Here are some highlights from the discussion:

  • 00:32 - Katie's role & background
  • 03:18 - What does the British Irish Chamber of Commerce do?
  • 05:46 - Has Brexit changed the fundamental nature of the relationship between Britain and Ireland?
  • 10:53 - Are there any upsides to Brexit?
  • 13:38 - Advice for Financial Services companies looking to do more business with Britain.

Now let's dive into the podcast discussion.


Need Help?


If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the FinTech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


One To Watch - R3 [With Katelyn Baker and Dave Hudson]

One To Watch - R3 [With Katelyn Baker and Dave Hudson]

February 18 2020

R3 is an exciting international enterprise blockchain software firm that continues to grow in Ireland.

Join us as Laura and Paul talk with Katelyn Baker and Dave Hudson from R3.

Interview With Katelyn Baker and Dave Hudson from R3

Here are some highlights from the discussion:

R3 video

  • 00:51 - Dave's role & background
  • 01:38 - Katelyn's role & background
  • 04:34 - What does R3 do?
  • 06:07 - Why Dublin?
  • 08:06 - The biggest tech changes coming to Financial Services.
  • 12:40 - Diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.
  • 18:04 - An interesting angle to working in blockchain.
  • 19:25 - Why someone would want to join R3.
  • 21:05 - What non-tech competencies does R3 look for in new hires?

Now let's dive into the podcast discussion.

About R3

R3 is an enterprise blockchain software firm working with a broad ecosystem of more than 300 members and partners across multiple industries from both the private and public sectors to develop on Corda, its open-source blockchain platform, and Corda Enterprise, a commercial version of Corda for enterprise usage.

R3’s global team of over 220 professionals in 14 countries is supported by over 2,000 technology, financial, and legal experts drawn from its global member base. 

The Corda platform is already being used in industries from financial services to healthcare, shipping, insurance, and more. It records, manages and executes institutions’ financial agreements in perfect synchrony with their peers, creating a world of frictionless commerce. 

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the FinTech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Karen Malone of Centaur Fund Services

Karen Malone of Centaur Fund Services

February 11 2020

The Funds Industry in Ireland has gone from strength to strength and today we're joined by an industry leader, Karen Malone.

Karen is Founding Partner & CEO of Centaur Fund Services. With offices in Europe and North America, Centaur delivers independent fund administration and regulatory services worldwide.

Interview With Karen Malone - Centaur Fund Services

Here are some highlights from the discussion:

  • 00:59 - Karen's background
  • 02:46 - Working hard, playing hard.
  • 03:29 - Joining Chase Manhattan Bank
  • 04:16 - Bermuda beckons
  • 05:23 - An MD opportunity back home
  • 06:28 - Making the leap - starting Centaur Fund Services
  • 10:18 - Dealing with change
  • 16:39 - Diversity & inclusion
  • 19:31 - What does Centaur look for when hiring?
  • 20:58 - Advice for people working in the funds industry
  • 25:43 - Interested in learning more about Centaur?

Listen to the discussion now . . .

About Centaur Fund Services

Centaur is a leading independent fund administrator with offices in North America and Europe.

Centaur logo

Centaur delivers independent fund administration and regulatory services globally to the alternative investment fund industry, focusing on hedge funds, private equity and real estate funds, family offices and ILS funds.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the FinTech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


6 Interview Chat Up Lines to be Prepared for!

6 Interview Chat Up Lines to be Prepared for!

February 04 2020

"Come here often? Well, you should."

Cheesy one-liners are predictable, and most people are used to them, but preparation is key.

Just like interview questions.

Below are the most common ‘Chat up lines’ you are likely to be asked at interview and a light-hearted steer on how to approach them.

While You're Here - Get The Dream Job Guide

Download the free Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries.

Jobseeker's Guide

To get the guide, click here.

Now, let's get into those chat-up lines . . .

Who are our main competitors?

Deceptively simple and, if you don’t know or haven’t done your prep, one that can mean leaving the interview knowing you’ll never be called for a second date.

Why do you want to work here?

Obvious line but a good answer to this shows you are more than just another candidate. Think about what makes this company the one for you. Ask your friends, what is this company really like to work for – we can all make a good first impression but if they are the type to not care about squeezing the toothpaste the right way…

What was your biggest achievement in your last role?

Tricky one. One you should ask yourself before every interview and really, ask on a regular basis regardless. What do you bring to your role that is unique? What do you do outside of what you are asked to do? Have you seen (and acted on!) opportunities to improve things?

What are your salary expectations?

You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) ask a prospective partner what they earn on a first date would you? Let your wing man/woman (ie your recruiter) handle this one. We already know your expectations and their budget matches so focus on everything else, tell them what you love about the role and what you can bring to it. Salary is secondary.

What would your current / previous colleagues say about you?

What would they say? May be best to think about this in advance and why not ask? Always good to get an honest opinion.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Awkward one. You don’t want to come on too strong and tell them you want to marry them at this stage but that you are looking for a long term, mutually beneficial relationship is good. Best not to suggest that they are simply a stepping stone until something better comes along though…

We know finding the right career partner can be difficult but we specialise in matching you with yours. If you are considering a change, contact us today – info@toptierrecruitment.com / +353 – 1 -564 9602.  


Special Guest: Jamie Heaslip

Special Guest: Jamie Heaslip

January 29 2020

We're joined on the show by former international rugby player, Jamie Heaslip.

Jamie is now busy investing and helping SMEs grow and scale globally by bringing what he's learned from highs performance teams to the business world.

Jamie is an investor in Providence, Kitman Labs, Lovin Dublin, UrbanVolt, Pointy, The Bridge 1859, and Lemon & Duke. He is also an investor and member of the team at the successful Irish Fintech, Flender, which is a digital lending platform that provides Irish SMEs with flexible finance, quick decisions, and competitive rates.

Jamie joined us to talk about his rugby career, life after rugby, the Irish tech scene, and lessons he's learned along the way.

Interview With Jamie Heaslip

 Listen to the discussion below.

About Flender

Flender ® is a Peer-to-Peer Crowd Finance platform that helps businesses raise​ growth finance very quickly.

Flender logo

Flender launched early 2017 and is successfully raising funds for Irish businesses, while lenders are currently participating from 28 countries.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the FinTech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


FINTECH Circle - Interview with Michal Bezak - Head of Partnerships at FINTECH Circle

FINTECH Circle - Interview with Michal Bezak - Head of Partnerships at FINTECH Circle

January 22 2020

FINTECH Circle is the leading FinTech angel investment network in the UK. It also helps banks and service providers to make sense of Fintech. 

We spoke with Michal Bezak, Head of Partnerships at FINTECH Circle, all about FINTECH Circle and the future of FinTech.

Interview With Michal Bezak [Head of Partnerships at FINTECH Circle]

 Listen to the discussion below.

About FINTECH Circle

FINTECH Circle works with the most innovative and disruptive brands in financial technology and connects them with senior thought leaders and financiers in London's City and Canary Wharf.

Banks and insurance companies see technologies emerging that will change their own business for the better.

FINTECH Circle logo

FINTECH Circle is an angel network that enables emerging financial technology firms to execute their vision and to successfully expand their FINTECH businesses.

FINTECH Circle brings together a group of senior Directors, Managing Directors, Owners and Partners of Financial Services firms who share a common interest in Financial Services Technology and want to get personally involved either by sharing their vast finance experience with innovative FINTECH firms and/or by becoming private angel investors.

FINTECH Circle members get invited to exclusive FINTECH and angel investment education seminars and to events where FINTECH firms present themselves, their business models and technologies.

FINTECH Circle's members are senior leaders in Financial Services with unique skills and many years of expertise across Investment Banking, Asset Management, Transaction Banking, Wholesale and/or Retail Banking, and Insurance.


Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the FinTech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Growing Starling - Interview With Felim O’Donnell [COO with Starling International]

Growing Starling - Interview With Felim O’Donnell [COO with Starling International]

December 18 2019

Starling Bank is an exciting Fintech company that is reshaping the world of financial services.

We spoke with Felim O'Donnell, COO with Starling International, about Starling's journey past, present, and future.

Felim also shared some fascinating insights on creating a positive, powerful workplace culture.

Listen to the discussion below.

Interview With Felim O'Donnell [COO with Starling International]

Interview Notes

Transcript coming soon!

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Girls In Tech Dublin - Coral Movasseli

Girls In Tech Dublin - Coral Movasseli

December 10 2019

Laura and Paul had a fascinating conversation with Coral Movasseli (Managing Director of Girls in Tech Dublin) about how to get more women into the tech industry.

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

About Coral

Laura Smyth: Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Coral Movasseli: Yes, of course, I'm Coral Movasseli. I'm the managing director of Girls in Tech here in Ireland. I'm Canadian. You probably can tell from the accent. I'm from Toronto, proud Torontonian. I came over here to Ireland about three and a half years ago. My husband Owen Carroll from Tipperary dragged me over, and since then I lovingly stayed.

Coral Movasseli: My background is quite interesting because I'm part of what you would call the leaky pipeline of women. I started at a very young age, and you know, this was when you had the big clunky computers and things like that, when everyone just had one computer in their household. I started coding, creating websites, and I was gaming? And I was just naturally interested in those things. Had top grades and calculus and math. I didn't go into engineering or computer science. Didn't. I Remember considering it at the time when I was in high school in Canada, and I just thought, I don't see myself there. I remember those instances.

Coral Movasseli: And I made my way into tech, it was quite an arduous journey and a boomerang. I studied, for my undergraduate degree, I did a bachelor's of science in political science at the University of Ottawa, and I did my masters of science at the London School of Economics in research. Heavy research in the social sciences, and all of techs and economics. And I found my way into tech by starting off as a business analyst. I was always a business analyst or economic analyst, and moved my way through that and got into products.

Coral Movasseli: And then found myself working in tech products, and then building a tech product with a friend of mine in Toronto. We built a digital app for the transportation system. We wanted to give users access to real live data for all the different transportation modes in Canada. And we built that. And then now I lead Girls in Tech here, and I've been working in products prior to that as well.

Coral Movasseli: That's the arduous journey into technology. And I say that because I think it's important for people to understand that getting into tech is not always a linear trajectory. It's not always about, hey, I'm going to study computer science or computer engineering and I'm going to be a coder with a hoodie, and I'm just going to read comic books and do gaming and stuff like that. I don't game anymore. I don't read comic books anymore, things like that. And you don't have to fit into that archetype. You don't have to follow that trajectory. You can make it your own, and even later on in life. It's what you make out of it.

Paul Smyth: What stopped you getting into tech? You talked about thinking about computer science. It seemed like it was a conscious decision.

Coral Movasseli: It was a conscious decision. Actually, what I was considering at the time was engineering, and it was a conscious decision. I just thought about, well what is that? What does that mean? And at the time, I wanted to do something where I felt like I can put my thumbprint in the world, I can make an impact. And I could not see how engineering could do that. When I thought about it, I thought about men standing around. It's what I saw as engineering, and it was men standing around with hardhats. And I thought, I don't fit into that. And I don't know what I can do with that. What does that actually mean?

Coral Movasseli: And I thought, well how can I make an impact? And I think when ... You just know what you know at the age, and what you know is what's the school system tells you and what your parents tell you. And it's here are these professions, you can be a doctor, you can be a lawyer, you can be a teacher, you can be a nurse, and you just know these industry professions.

Coral Movasseli: But you don't know the nuances. If you don't have a parent who studied engineering, and also shares that knowledge with you and what that could mean for your life and for your career, you're kind of exempt from that. You're a product of the exposure and the knowledge that you have. And not that I regret, but if I could go back having the knowledge I have now, I would have studied computer engineering. That would have made sense for me. That was my natural fit. I don't regret studying the social sciences and, and economics and politics. It gave me a breadth and exposure into how to do proper research and how do you see the world. It gave me the cosmology that I have now.

Paul Smyth: Probably fairly more rounded view maybe than if you had just gone into computer engineering.

Coral Movasseli: For sure. A more well-rounded view, definitely.

Girls In Tech Dublin

Paul Smyth: And you mentioned Girls in Tech, and can you tell us a bit about that, and the Girls in Tech in Ireland?

Coral Movasseli: Yes, I'd love to. Girls in Tech as an organization has been around for a long time. It started in San Francisco, in the Valley by Adriana Gascoigne, the current CEO and founder of Girls in Tech. I knew of Girls in Tech. They've been around for such a long time, over 13 years. I knew of them because they have a heavy presence in North America. It's a heavier presence. And when I came over to Ireland, I wanted to do something where ... I'd already been involved in a lot of community work, I've sat on boards and such like that for charities and not for profits. And I wanted to do something that was personal to me and that I understood. And that also would help someone in some way, if I could speak about my challenges.

Girls In Tech Dublin

Coral Movasseli: And I came across Girls in Tech and the opportunity to start the Irish component of Girls in Tech here. And I had no idea it was going to be what it is today. And Girls in Tech's mission is three fold. We are here to engage, empower and educate women in tech and female entrepreneurs. And the way we do that is by creating our own programs. In-house programs that we create. And sometimes they're created globally and we can then take it and we can like do it here in Ireland.

Coral Movasseli: And we create these programs that are there so that when women come to us and they leave, they have some knowledge, they have some insight, they have the tools they need. That's what we do. We want to make sure people leave with a sense of value out of our programs.

Coral Movasseli: One of the programs that I created here in Ireland is the Stepping Up Mentorship Program. It's a mentorship program that I launched at the Dublin Tech Summit two years ago and since then we've been running it fairly frequently. We have one coming up on November 21st at Huckletree here in Dublin. And what the program is there to do is to give women the knowledge and the tools and the access to the right people that they need, so that they can take control of their own careers and be successful.

Coral Movasseli: Because I think that's what it's all about, right? I think it's about taking control of your own career, taking control of your own life. If I had just gone down the trajectory that I thought was meant for me, I was destined for, I'd still be ... Because I started my career actually working for the foreign office in Canada, in Ottawa. I was working on international trade policy with our international diplomats abroad. And I would still be there. That's where I would be. There's nothing wrong with that. But I wouldn't be where I am now.

Paul Smyth: Do you think much has changed in terms of that perception, I suppose? You said if you knew then what you know now, you would have gone down the computer engineering route. But you didn't see that as an option at the time. Do you think that kind of perception or that lens is changing or has changed?

Coral Movasseli: I think it's better now than it was at the time. Like at the time, when I was applying for university, there was no Facebook. Facebook came out when I was in first year university. Nobody really knew what to do with the internet. We were still figuring it out. I think millennials figured out what to do with the internet. So that took some time.

Coral Movasseli: I think there's just a greater level of exposure and people have a greater level of exposure with technology. People have cell phones, right? People have smart phones, computers, all those things were luxury items.

Paul Smyth: It's more accessible now.

Coral Movasseli: Everyone has a cell phone now. I got a cell phone at the age of 14, and I don't even think you could text with it.

Coral Movasseli: And then the next one was like the flip phones and you could text. People were like, oh my God, they didn't know what to do with text.

Paul Smyth: And smaller was better.

Coral Movasseli: And smaller was better, and they were tiny.

Paul Smyth: It was a lot easier though back then wasn't it?

Coral Movasseli: It was a lot easier, yes.

Paul Smyth: Snake was really good.

Coral Movasseli: Snake, oh my God. That snake name? The Nokia.

Paul Smyth: Showing your age now.

Laura Smyth: Bring back the Nokia. You could literally bounce it off the ground and it never broke. It was unbreakable.

Coral Movasseli: It was unbreakable. 

Coral Movasseli: I heard they brought them back, like certain collection pieces. They were crazy, and people used to like, I don't know if you guys use the term here, but like soup them up.

Laura Smyth: Oh yes.

Coral Movasseli: They would have like lights, and there's a whole nother industry to souping up your phone.

Paul Smyth: Yes, change the colors and all that stuff. Ring tones, remember you could do a ringtone.

Laura Smyth: Ringtones, yes.

Coral Movasseli: Yes, because you couldn't do anything with those phones. So people just thought, hey let's accessorize them. But now there's so much on the software of the phone, you don't think about the ring tone and stuff. You're just occupied with so many other things.

Laura Smyth: Yes, that is true.

Girls In Tech - Coral Movasseli - Podcast Interview

Paul Smyth: I'm really interested in the diversity aspect in technology in particular. And do you think because technology is more accessible through phones, on Facebook, and internet and all that stuff, and there are more women now, still probably not enough, but there are more women going into technology and seeing that as other routes, do you think that's helping make it more accessible? Or making it a, I don't want to say realistic opportunity, but do you know what I mean? Women are seeing it as ...

Coral Movasseli: It's a funny one. Like has that translated into the numbers that we want to see? It hasn't. There are fewer women now studying computer science than 30 years ago. We know that, and these are in all the western countries. That hasn't changed. There are more women exposed to tech or in tech companies, but they're not technical.

Coral Movasseli: I think for a lot of women that come to us, they want to become technical. They want to be a data scientist. Like maybe they studied marketing and marketing is a heavily analytical subject. They want to know how to switch to data science and they don't know how. Or they want to get into web design because they are very artistic. They just don't know how to or they feel like maybe it's too late for them.

Coral Movasseli: So there is a bit of how do we help the women now are knowledgeable, who are exposed to tech, who understand the benefits of technology and what that could bring, the impact it can have. How do we get them to transition into more technical roles? Because you don't need to go back to school and do four years of computer science to be a coder. You don't need to go back to school and study statistics for four years, and then get a master's in stats to be a data scientist, to do machine learning.

Coral Movasseli: You don't need to do any of that. Obviously you need a certain level of comprehension in maths, but it's a basic comprehension. That is still a myth that we're trying to debunk. And I found that greatly so when we ran the Hackathon.

Coral Movasseli: We have a hackathon program with Girls in Tech. It's a global program called Hacking for Humanity. And we work with local charities to find their business challenges, and then we present those business challenges to the hackers to find digital solutions. And here we brought the Hackathon over this spring. And it was the first Hackathon for women in Ireland. And I did not know that when I started working on the Hackathon program like a year in advance to bring the program here. And I was like, oh my God, like there is no precedent. So how do we know this is going to work? And I was told by countless people, to how are you going to fill the room? Luckily we sold out.

Paul Smyth: You did fill it, yes.

Coral Movasseli: We did fill it. We sold out.

Laura Smyth: I attended.

Coral Movasseli: You attended, yes!

Laura Smyth: It was amazing. It was so, so enjoyable.

Laura Smyth: I was buzzed after, really was.

Coral Movasseli: But to be honest with you, we had a hard time with marketing that program. With our mentorship program, we did not have any trouble. Even the first time I launched Girls in Tech, I wasn't from Ireland, I only knew Owen, I launched Girls in Tech six months or a few months after landing in Ireland. We sold out. The room was packed. We had Silicon Republic cover. Like we had a reporter from Silicone Republic cover the whole launch. We were mentioned in The Independent, the Times.

Coral Movasseli: But the Hackathon was really hard. It was such a huge challenge. And I honestly thought every single day it was very stressful, I thought it was going to fail, because to be honest with you, it was a hard sell. Because we had to convince women that they could do it. We had to debunk all these myths that they had, all of the softer issues of why women are not getting into technical roles, and studying the hard sciences. We had to overcome those. We had to try to convince them. We had to try to overcome those barriers because we kept getting asked, well, I'm not a coder. Why should I go to a Hackathon?

Paul Smyth: So I was in the professional women's network in [State street 00:00:15:52] when I was there for a couple of years. And one of the things that always came up was around how job specs are written, on how job adverts are written. And I can't remember the percentage, but it's a fairly high percentage that women need to see that they tic a box on the spec before they'll actually apply. Whereas men just have a tendency to say, let's have all the applications.

Coral Movasseli: Yes, totally.

Paul Smyth: So it sounds like it was similar for the Hackathon.

Coral Movasseli: Similar. Yes. Similar. And we have to face all those challenges because we had to pave the way. And I'm glad we got it over. We went way above the line in the end in terms of the outcome and the impact we created. And I hope that sent a signal, and it has, because I'm seeing more women Hackathons popping up in Ireland that hey, this is possible. Hey, you can do this. You need to be exposed to it. Because afterwards people were crying. I don't know if you remember, I don't know if you watch some people's faces, but some people came up to me and they were in tears. They were like, this is the most amazing thing. I didn't know that I could do this. I had no idea. And I just thought, yes, that's what we want to do.

Coral and team

Laura Smyth: The energy was amazing. I'm still in touch with some of the girls that were there. It was a huge success. Hugely successful. So, well done.

Coral Movasseli: Thank you. But yes, it had a lot of challenges. You'd never tell.

Laura Smyth: I couldn't tell.

Paul Smyth: Being part of that kind of global Girls in Tech ecosystem or organization, where do you think Ireland is at the minute, in terms of women in tech in general. And how far of a journey do we have to go on?

Coral Movasseli: So there is how do we define women in tech. And the aspect of it is who is collecting this data and who is measuring this. So there are some academic studies that have been measuring the number of women in certain degrees, and in Ireland relative to other countries. Ireland doesn't trail ahead. It trails behind in certain subjects, in the technical aspects, in computer science it does. But that's not abnormal. That's a western problem.

Coral Movasseli: When we get into the anecdotal side, into the qualitative side that isn't in these studies, because these are international studies. When I go and speak to the head of engineering at this university and at that university, and they tell me, okay, we have less than 20% of our women in the engineering programs. We have less than 20% of women in our engineering program. That's fairly normal across the scales, across Ireland, and in other western countries.

Coral Movasseli: And then I go, okay, where are these women coming from? They're mostly foreign. So that's the qualitative side, right? So are Irish women studying computer science or are going to engineering? Not as much. And even with having that foreign representation of women in these programs, it's still below the line. And it's a western problem, because we need to look at the qualitative side, right? Because as societies become more egalitarian, there is actually a correlation ...

Paul Smyth: Correlation, I love it.

Coral Movasseli: No pun intended. Shameless promotion of my name.

Coral Movasseli: Yes, there is a correlation between an egalitarian society and the number of women studying STEM or in technical roles.

Coral Movasseli: If we look at the qualitative side, and again, background, social sciences, what helps me understand this is that, well you have more freedom, you have more choices. And if you can study anything you want, and women want to study things where they see that it has an impact in the world, it can do good, and they don't see how studying the technical, how studying engineering can help them benefit the world, how they can use that as a tool and how they can leverage up, they're not going to study that. It's not because they're not capable. Because the study shows that women in Ireland and in other western countries score just as high, if not higher on math scores when they're in school, relative to boys.

Coral Movasseli: So it's not that they're not good at math. They are. Actually women tend to be better in reading comprehension test. They surpass the boys, but they're still good at math. So it's not a capability thing, it's an interest thing. And it's an understanding thing. It's an exposure thing. again, it goes back to my story, right? I did not understand how, and I was not exposed to how this subject could help me impact the world. I did not understand it.

Laura Smyth: Yes. Very interesting.

Paul Smyth: I have two questions.

Laura Smyth: Yes, go for it.

How To Get More Women Into The Tech Sector

Paul Smyth: One is to get more women into technology, there's a lot of pieces to that puzzle. If you had to pick one as being critical and being kind of a game-changer, what would that be? And also, if we do get more women into technology, what's the value in that? Why are we trying to do this?

Coral Movasseli: Okay. So there's two parts of that question. Like what can we do to get more women?

Paul Smyth: What's the one big thing. And I know there's loads.

Coral Movasseli: If there was one big thing to get more women in technology, I think it's exposing them to it. Things like Hackathons, right? Things where it becomes tangible to them at a really young age. So that will then get more girls interested in technology and working with technology, and seeing what it can do.

Coral Movasseli: And that will then create a new culture of tech where it doesn't ostracize girls, because right now it's still very much heavily on people who are gamers. Oh, and girls who are gamers are more likely to study computer science or engineering. You know, gamers, comic book readers, boys, it's very much a boy culture. So you are ostracized from it. There's not girl elements in that. There's not feminine elements. So we need more girls to be interested in it, so then the culture expands, and there's now a new culture, a more cohesive and welcoming culture.

Coral Movasseli: So that I think, is exposure and working with girls. So like last year we collaborated with Sage Technologies from England and we ran a workshop where we helped girls and boys. So it was youth. And we had some people from disadvantaged areas to build an AI Chatbot. And many of them, most of them, 90% had never coded, didn't even know what a syntax was. And they built an AI Chatbot at the end of it. And they were super excited about it. And then the parents got excited, because then these kids are telling their parents. And we had them showcase what they created at the end. And then the parents are excited because they didn't know what that was. They just heard like, workshop on a weekend, okay great. I'm going to put my kids in this, get some time off.

Coral Movasseli: But then they were like, Oh that's what an AI Chatbot is. That's what that means. And their kids are explaining it to them, and they were excited.

Laura Smyth: Demystified it then.

Coral Movasseli: Demystified it, exactly. And then they understood what it meant on a tangible level. And I think it's exposure, but it's not just about talking about it, because when you talk to people under a certain age, they don't understand what all these things are. These are like jargon, adult jargon. You don't know what this means. It's get them to work on it, get them to have that level of exposure. So there needs to be more happening in the schools for that to happen, because it's not going to come from the parents. That's going to take a long, long, long time.

Coral Movasseli: But the research does show that if your parents come from STEM, you are more likely to go and study STEM. But we can't wait until that happens naturally. It's going to take a really, really long time. So I think that would be useful. And that's also I'm reflecting on when I was a kid, what would have made a difference from me? And what have I seen through my experience with running Girls in Tech in Ireland? What have I seen work? Right?

Coral Movasseli: And then your other question was ... there was a second part.

Paul Smyth: What's the value in getting more women into technology? We did diversity inclusion reports at the start of this year. We launched it through FuSIoN and with that, we had about, I know, a hundred people in State Street. It was great. But a lot of what we talk about when we talk about DNI or IND, is what's the business case? So if you're an employer, everyone talks about diversity inclusion and we're constantly asked for 50/50 candidate slates, male and female, very hard in technology. But if you're sitting there in a business, running a business in Ireland, a technology business, where a business would have tech, and you know that you need to do something, but why do you need to do it? What's the point of getting more women in technology?

Coral Movasseli: Yes. I actually really like that question because I hate most of the answers I hear. I'll tell you most of the answers I hear, which you know, you may have heard as well, which is it's good for your business. It's really good for your business to get more women into your workforce. You can then create innovative products because then you have different perspectives.

Coral Movasseli: And those are all tactical and superficial answers. I hate those answers because that's not why you should be doing it. That's ridiculous, because at some point you're going to be like, well, it's not economically beneficial for my company to have women, so I'm just going to get rid of it. I'm not going to care anymore. Whenever it becomes too hard for you.

Coral Movasseli: That's not why you should do it. Yes, those are outcomes that you will have, having different perspectives, a better cohesive culture. There is a difference between the feminine and the masculine. Right? Women tend to be more collaborative. We tend to bring people behind us. We're better at creating teams. Right?

Coral Movasseli: So there are a lot of benefits you get, but that's not why you should do it. You should do it because at a very high level, at a very aggregate level, it's about helping society. It's about creating cohesive societies. It's about communities. It's about building better communities where you're engaging 50% of the population into what you're doing. That's what it's about.

Coral Movasseli: And I have not heard a company give me that answer once. It's all been the bottom line. And I know that they're not really interested in diversity and inclusion because they don't really get it. It's a checkbox exercise. And I'm sorry but checkbox exercises? Well one day this is not going to be a sexy topic anymore.

Coral Movasseli: This is going to lapse. And when that does then that those efforts and that pool of money to try to get more women into their companies and to get interested in tech, that's going to stop. But we can't have that. We want to keep this going. This is to engage 50%. You cannot disengage half the population. This is what it's about, because the societies that we've created can not continue. We don't run an egalitarian society anymore, where women stay at home, have children, are in the kitchen. That doesn't exist anymore. We need to have two working people. So that's what it's about.

Advice For Women Starting Out In Tech

Paul Smyth: Great. Really, really interesting. Coral, I know you touched on it a good bit earlier. When you have a woman coming to you for advice on how to start a career in technology, you mentioned that you don't necessarily have to take that linear trajectory. What advice would you give to a woman starting out?

Coral Movasseli: When they're in high school?

Paul Smyth: When they've already ... So if they're younger, I know you mentioned, you talked about the exposure piece, but for somebody who's already gone through the, I suppose education, they've already started a career in something but want to take a career change into technology.

Coral Movasseli: I think the first step, the first immediate step, and this is for any sort of transitions in your life, is get to know as much as you can about what you think you might be interested in. Don't just go into tech because you think, oh, everyone's talking about tech now and I got to be in tech, and that's where the money is. It's like, no, no, no, no, no. Hold on a minute. Then maybe it's not the right path for you. Understand as much as you can about it.

Coral Movasseli: The good thing these days is that there's a lot more resources now than there was when I was younger. You have all these apps like Meetup. Yes, it's just everything has progressed. So the access to information and knowledge is more readily available. And what I would say is don't read about it as much. Go out there and meet people in tech. Go to tech conferences. There are so many tech conferences just in Dublin alone. There's Dublin Tech Summit. There was South Stock, which is really amazing. There's just so many. I was at Predict Conference. There's a Woman in Tech Conference. I don't know, there's just so many. There's Inspire Fires. There's so many places you can go to get acquainted with tech in different ways, right?

Coral Movasseli: I say get to know as much about it so that you understand what that means and then speak to people in the industry who are in different roles in tech. And understand what those roles look like, what they require. And then if you think you're interested in any of those things, then look at your own background and see what you can already leverage.

Coral Movasseli: So if you studied, for example, economics, maybe look at data science as a route. Maybe you're a very analytical person, and see how you can take a crash course. There's so many bootcamps in Europe especially, and in the US. Six months boot camps, and you can become a data scientist for example.

Coral Movasseli: Yes. There's so many of these transitional educational institutions that have popped up. So I would say then take that leap and make a plan. Make a longterm plan of what that's going to look like. But the first step is get to know people, actually understand what that means and where you fit in.

Paul Smyth: Yes, planning is ... If you listen to our podcast, it comes up every single episode. I don't think enough people take enough time, male or female, to think about what they actually want to do longer term and how what they're doing now fits into that. Yes, planning is good.

Coral Movasseli: Yes, and I think there's no, even if you're in your thirties or your forties or whatever, even if you're fifties, it's never too late. I remember when I was in my early twenties, I was thinking of things I wanted to do, but I'm like, oh, it's too late, now. And now I Look back, I'm like, oh my God, what was I thinking? There's this constant voice in our head that tells us is too late. This is ridiculous. It's never too late.

Paul Smyth: And it's okay to make a mistake.

Coral Movasseli: It's okay to make mistakes and to have this detour. You only learn more. You only become a more well rounded person. The one thing I have learned, 100%, is sometimes you need to go slower to go faster.

Laura Smyth: Yes. Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much. That was absolutely fantastic, Coral. If anyone wants to get in touch with you or the team, what should they do?

Coral Movasseli: Yes, they can go to our website, Dublin.GirlsInTech.org. They can find us on Twitter at @gitdublin. We're on Facebook, we're on Instagram. There are so many opportunities to get in touch with us. And you can come to the next mentorship program that we're running. It's an evening commitment and I commend everyone to come in and go because it's amazing.

Laura Smyth: Brilliant. Thank you so much.

Coral Movasseli: Yes, Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Paul Smyth: Thanks Coral.

Coral Movasseli: Thank you.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


New Report: Future Of The Funds Industry In Ireland [Free Download]

New Report: Future Of The Funds Industry In Ireland [Free Download]

December 03 2019

The funds industry in Ireland has been in a state of constant change so we've put together a report on the future of the industry.

The report covers FinTech, fund managers, fund services firms, advisory companies, ManCos and others who have a vested interest in the changing nature of the funds industry in Ireland.

We welcome you to download the free report from here.

We'd like to thanks all the people who shared their fascinating insights on the industry's future:

Ann Prendergast - State Street Global Advisors
Katie Thurston - IDA Ireland
John Bohan - Apex Group Ltd
Kevin O Neill - Fenergo
Vanora Madigan - DMS Governance
Karen Malone - Centaur
Sean Hawkshaw - KBI Global Investors
Ronan Kelly - Grant Thornton Ireland
Paul Daly - BNP Paribas
Pete Townsend - Norio Ventures
Eoin Motherway - The Asset Management Exchange
Colin McKeon - Bridge Consulting Limited
Andris Macs & Natasha Quinn - GECKO Governance

Feel free to share the report with your colleagues.

Funds Report

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


How To Be More Productive At Work - Moira Dunne from BeProductive-ie

How To Be More Productive At Work - Moira Dunne from BeProductive-ie

November 26 2019

Following her excellent article in our Employee Retention Guide, productivity expert Moira Dunne from BeProductive.ie joined Laura & Paul to share her ever-useful advice on how to be more productive at work.

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

About Moira

Moira Dunne: Delighted to join you. My business is BeProductive.ie. My focus is on helping individuals and organizations be productive with their time. It came about in recognition of the fast-paced world we all work in and how people are coming in, increasingly stressed with managing their time. So about three years ago I headed up the training consultancy to look at, I suppose, what were the factors contributing to that stress that you were feeling. And to come up with some solutions and practical tips to help people take more control of their time and boost their productivity.

Moira Dunne: So that's the business, and my background itself is that I've been training and consulting for about 20 years at this stage. Of my original career, I started out as a biochemistry graduate from Trinity and then worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 10 years in the UK and the US. And towards the end of that, when I was leaving, I'd been working on a large robotics project and I had to train a lots of people to learn how to use the technology. And I sort of had a light bulb moment where I realized I simply loved training and passing on skills and knowledge to others. At that point, I was relocating back to Ireland, so I decided to change career path, and moved into training and development and then ultimately consultancy down the line.

Paul: Okay. So the kind of training and then consultancy, was that a little bit accidental then?

Moira Dunne: Well, no, I suppose I experienced training and decided I loved it. So then I deliberately planned then to make a change in my career and got some training skills myself and certifications and then worked in technical training initially. And then one of the organizations I worked in Prince First, about 20 years ago, I was part of the HR department and got invited onto more self-skills training type programs. And I've just loved that whole area ever since.

Moira Dunne: So for the last 20 years I've been doing training and project management around business skills and just helping people be better in their role. And giving people the skills to fill any gaps that they might have as they go about off on their own. So people have their technical skills, but then the business skills sometimes aren't as obvious that that's what people need. So that's what I love teaching people.

Paul: Yes. And, I think one of the things that we see is those business skills are sometimes harder to identify. You know, you're technical, you're technical, and you can, if you're a Java developer, you can develop something. But it's that software that's a little bit more intangible. It's hard to identify?

Moira Dunne: [inaudible 00:03:07] there are, I suppose, the standard training courses are in teamwork and communications, various things. But the productivity came around and a lot of people say to me, actually, I never realized you could get training on how to be more productive. And I had worked, of course, a lot of projects around, you know, the examining roles and looking at priorities and capacity planning and analysis and efficiencies and process improvements. So that made me think, well yes, I'll put something new together that really focuses on having them be able to look at their role, what their responsibilities are, what the most important things are they should be doing; and then seeing how they can manage and organize their time. And protect it, so they can use it for the things that they feel most pressure to deliver.


Paul: Okay. In terms of productivity, I think everyone has a general idea of what it is, but what exactly is productivity and how can that be measured?

Moira Dunne: Yes, you can look at it lots of different ways. The word itself, I suppose originates from producing and from a manufacturing environment where you've got maybe all the components of a car. You've got a number of people who work on manufacturing that car and then the car is outsourced at the end of the day, so it's very much about producing products.

Moira Dunne: If we look at it, in any role within any organization, it's really about looking at the time that you have with your resources and what are the things they need to produce. So that could be reports, it could be a list of statistics, it could be a PowerPoint presentation, it could be making headway on a project. So it's for each person in their role to look at what are their key responsibilities and what are the things that they need to be producing on a weekly basis or maybe it's a monthly basis.

Paul: Sure.

Moira Dunne: So it's the impact, really, of your efforts. So I often, a lot of the courses that I run, I call them, How To Turned Busy Into Productive. So nearly everyone I know nowadays is busy and often have a day where you're you feel, I've been so busy, but I still feel like I got nothing done.

Moira Dunne: When you stop and think about that weapon behind that and that's what I really help people try and figure out. And often it's because people are busy maybe working on things that they're being pulled into or asked to do, but they weren't on their list of priorities. So you get to the end of the day and you think I had this great list, I had this great plan but I didn't get a minute to do anything off my plan. And that's where the frustration comes from.

Paul: Yes.

Moira Dunne: So, it's helping people be really careful about what they should prioritize so that when new things crop up, you're able to make the right decision and then use time for the right things.

Paul: Yes. I'm sure you mentioned it again, but you know things like email and being a slave to your inboxes is high up there.

Moira Dunne: I often say to people, "Your inbox is everybody else's priorities, not yours." 

Paul: Definitely. In terms of the article that you wrote for us, and thanks again for the employee retention guide, you spoke about the positive impact of productivity on overall corporate wellness. Can you talk us through this?

Moira Dunne: Yes. So there's a lot of research that shows that if people are happy in the workplace, they're productive. But I sort of flip that around and say,"As well as that, if people feel they can be productive. And if they have a productive day and if the organization enables them to be productive, then they're going to feel quite happy about their job and about our efforts and what they're achieving."


Moira Dunne: One of the exercises I often do at the start of a workshop is I split the group into two, and I get one group said to just talk about how it feels if they really don't feel productive. And then the other group do the opposite. And when you look at all the feelings behind it, you can see how, when you have a productive day, it pretty much runs into the office and you feel really satisfied.

Moira Dunne: And it's also really, A, it helps you switch off after work because you're not going away with that worry that you haven't done the important things, and therefore you come back in refreshed the next day and you're quite motivated to have another really productive day.

Paul: Yes.

Moira Dunne: It really does build, so to me, for organizations to look at, well, are we giving people the right environment to be productive? Are we supporting them? Are we managing them? Have we got good manager relationships that enables people to be productive. I mean some of the things that... An individual might have great skills, but if they have a manager who keeps changing their minds and keeps landing new priorities or leaves things to the last minute. Or sometimes you might have structures in an organization where I might do a piece of work, but then I have to wait for three people to sign it off before I can get the thing out the door. You know?

Moira Dunne: So sometimes the processes don't enable productivity either. So you can sort of look at it on a number of levels. It's the individual's skills and the individual's ability to work smartly. But then also the organization needs to look at how its enabling people to be productive. So I often would start with a session with the senior team and talk to them back their role in enabling productivity for their teams.

Paul: Yes. I really wonder how many times people actually take the time to think about, what are the outputs that we require, and what does productivity mean for us, almost?

Moira Dunne: Yes. But it's always a very interesting exercise and it really sets everybody thinking if you do that. And it's not about analyzing everything to the last degree and turning people into robots at all. It's very much helping people to prioritize themselves, so they'll really care about what they should be focusing on. Because often people aren't, they might have a job description that has certain roles in it, but then they get asked to do a completely different set of work.

Paul: I don't like to make assumptions ever really, but if you're clear in terms of priorities and it gives people flexibility almost to manage their day and their time as long as they know what's required.

Moira Dunne: Absolutely. Yes, yes. So as long as the right outcome is achieved, then you can give people that flexibility. And sort of empowering them really to make their own choices about how they use their time, as long as they're delivering what you need them to deliver.

Paul: In terms of the work that you do with companies and your research, and so forth, in this, what would you say are the key blocks that you would most commonly see in organizations to achieving productivity?

Moira Dunne: I suppose the two things that probably... I mean three things, actually. One is the impact of the open-plan offices. Most workspaces now are open plan and that's fantastic for communication and teamwork, and it means people can maybe resolve issues as they crop up rather than having to arrange meetings or whatever. So, that's all fantastic.

Moira Dunne: But, obviously, with that then it brings all the distractions, the noise, so that people sometimes feel they have no space or time to think. There's a lot of tasks that we can do where we don't need to get engrossed that much, but then there are a lot of pieces of work that require a level of focus and sometimes you need quiet for that. I mean a lot of organizations recognize that and they create pods or quiet areas for people to go to.

Moira Dunne: But I find that sometimes people are reluctant to go to those spaces. Even though they're there, they feel a bit weird doing that, so I often [inaudible 00:11:44] do. Just at certain times, and associated with receiving a certain piece of work and then work with your teammates and say, "On Thursday morning, I'm going to for an hour here. And then if you want to do it at a different time, I'll cover for you." So that people work together on this.

Moira Dunne: That's one of the key things is the distractions of the open-plan office. The next thing, as we've mentioned already, is email and the volume of email. And it's not so much the email, but it's the expectations that people feel to respond instantly. We have instant communication and the research shows that emails are opened to within six seconds of them arriving, in general, in the workplace, which is quite terrifying when you think about it.

Moira Dunne: It means that people that are just constantly on their email, and I think people are because well, A, it's addictive; but, B, they feel the pressure if they're not. Because there's an expectation that they will respond as soon as it arrives. But I often work with senior teams and say, "What response time do you want your people to have?" You know? And, usually this is when they're in a training session with me and I'm saying, "You've all been here for two hours and nobody's doing emails." So the organization didn't fall over.

Moira Dunne: It's about thinking about... It's almost giving people permission to, say, even switch out of the email for 25 minutes in every half an hour and check it every 5 minutes, every half an hour. You're still staying on top of things, but you're giving yourself 25 minutes of uninterrupted time.

Moira Dunne: So it's looking at that. And then I suppose the third thing, in some organizations, it's worse than others, is the meeting time. That can really eat into people's time there.

Paul: Yes. I think we've all sat through what people consider pointless meetings. And one of the things we try to do, and we're not perfect by any means, one of the things we always try to do is to have a clear outcome for a meeting. So that at least you're aiming towards something, rather than a chat about. It's let's get something done.

Moira Dunne: Oh, absolutely. Yes. There's a great tool on the Harvard business website, Harvard Business Review, a meeting cost calculator. You go in and you put in the number of people in the meeting, the length and the duration of the meeting, and the average salary of everybody there, and it gives you the cost of the meeting. So it's amazing. But it's really useful if you're trying to put something in monetary terms, you know?

Paul: Yes. I think it's up there with, I never realized that the average opening time for an email was six seconds. It makes sense when you think about it, but it's scary when you say it out loud.

Moira Dunne: It's crazy, isn't it? Because it's okay if it's your real high priority emails from your top client or something that's very urgent. But half of them could be somebody in reception saying choppers are outside the building, or I suppose that is a bit urgent, or it could be where to go for the Christmas party. So the amount of emails that come in that aren't high priority, and that's one of the things I do with people in relation to email management, is the mechanism for categorizing them. So you might have very instant response time to certain ones and the others you leave them until it suits you to do them, so it's in control again.

Paul: When I've gone down the rabbit hole that is email, I have to wonder how much CCing people, almost needlessly, sometimes clogs inboxes. And the other thing that's really jumping to mind is the experience of anyone coming back, even if it's after a couple of days off, to an inbox that's overloaded. But, anytime I've done it, I've always walked away thinking, God, half of that was totally unnecessary. I didn't even need to see it.

Moira Dunne: Yes. Yes, and the tip is to work backwards when you come back from being out of the office. Because if you start with the most recent emails, you'll find that some of the issues that may be cropped up a week or two ago have resolved themselves by the time you get to it, so work backwards.

Paul: Leading on from that, just regarding the changing nature of work and how that impacts productivity. I suppose one thing, kind of the next evolution, as I see it anyway, of email will be the likes of kind of Slack and other instant messaging tools. How would those tools and the other changing nature of work, how is all of that impacting our productivity?

Moira Dunne: In some, it's got benefits and downsides, as well, because particularly in something like instant messaging, for a lot of people in organizations that's actually doubled the impact of emails. Do you know what I mean? Because they now have this second messaging system and the expectation with something like instant messaging as it suggests is that you definitely do keep it on all the time and respond. It actually means people have to manage a couple of different programs.

Moira Dunne: And so I think with things like Slack and Messaging and maybe even in some organizations there are WhatsApp groups, et cetera, for business. And they've crept in without any rules or boundaries around them. So it's harder for people to manage it and to keep on top of it all, whereas something like Slack, if you sit down and say, "Okay, we're going to use this." a lot of organizations maybe would want to use it for their internal communication and then try and just keep email for external communication and clients.

Moira Dunne: So that's great if it's done in a planned way because then you give everybody the criteria around how to respond to one, how to respond to the other. And I think if it's well managed it can be fantastic. And then the idea of Slack, or Trello is another one that works really well for teams working on the same project. It means that only the people who need to be notified are notified and then you don't even need to be sending messages because it's very much a [inaudible 00:18:02] type board so you can see the status of things without having to ask somebody.

Moira Dunne: Today, the challenge is that's what organizations want to move towards because they streamline things and they reduce the amount of noise I think around people's day when it comes to messaging. So I think like with anything like that it's to implement it, but do it in a planned strategic way. So you, you maximize the benefits and you mitigate against any of the downsides.

Paul: Sure. You covered an awful lot there. What would your top productivity tips be for people who are interested in increasing productivity overall in the workplace?

Moira Dunne: To me it's around, for any of the tips, the first step is to actually make a bit of a mindset shift about how we view our time. So any of the tools or tips or the apps, they won't really help you make changes in a long-term way unless you sort of decide in your head yourself that you... it's insulting that we have a limited amount of time. Time is our most valuable asset because it's the one thing we can't get more of. We're all limited in the amount of time in the day, so it's really valuing and protecting your time. And making sure that you don't give it away to on activities that aren't important or high value. And that incudes allowing ourselves to be distracted by things that we often enjoy doing, you know?

Moira Dunne: So we have to sort of challenge ourselves, as well, and push ourselves to not spend too much time on things that aren't high value. And it's sort of getting the most out of our time in the day so we can get out the door on time and do all the other things that we want to do in our life. So it's sort of a holistic view, it's not just about getting loads of work done. It's about finding time for all the important things that we're all trying to juggle.

Paul: Sure.

Moira Dunne: So that you can get out of work, so you can go the gym, or go and do whatever hobby, or see your family. So the hours that you're in work, you're as efficient as you can be. You're getting the most out of your time. So I suppose it's that initial mindset, actually my time is really valuable so I'm going to be careful what I use it on.

Paul: Great advice. And if anyone wants to find out a little bit more about your business and what you do, what's the best way for them to contact you?

Moira Dunne: Yes, so lots of ways really. My website is beproductive.ie, so that's easy enough to find. And I do a lot of blogging on a lot of the topics that we've discussed here, smart email management, meetings control, how to stay focused from some distractions, working from home. A lot of the topics, so a lot of blogs there if people are interested in reading a little bit more and getting some of the background. And then the resource page, as well, there's a lot of productivity templates and tools that people could download. Then I'd be very active on Twitter and I'm on Instagram and Facebook, as well, and LinkedIn.

Moira Dunne: Basically the Be Productive.ie website. You'll also find me all over social media. Particularly Twitter, I suppose I use the most because I put a tip up most mornings. A little tip to give people a productivity boost on their way into work, keep them focused. If you're getting distracted by your phone, at least go and do something productive and look at my Twitter handle.

Paul: Yes, exactly. And I know you mentioned, of course, I did have a good look through the resources and the blogs and the websites, some really, really good stuff there.

Moira Dunne: Oh, thanks.

Paul: Yes. No, I'd really encourage everyone to have a look. We'll make sure we have a couple of links at the end of the interview. So thanks a million again for your time and for your contribution to the retention guides and hope people take loads away from this.

Moira Dunne: Yes, great. Thanks a million. I hope people find it useful and sure to get in touch any way if anybody has any particular questions, I'd be delighted to interact with people.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Top Tier Recruitment Launches Simon Community Partnership

Top Tier Recruitment Launches Simon Community Partnership

November 20 2019

Top Tier Recruitment is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Dublin Simon Community to help support their efforts to provide services at all stages of homelessness and enable people to move to a place they can call home.

The weather has turned cold in Dublin and the team got to talking about what we could do to help people less fortunate than ourselves this winter.

We made a decision: Instead of giving gifts this Christmas, we've decided that we will donate €100 to the Dublin Simon Community every time we're asked to fill a new vacancy (within Fintech & financial services) between now and Christmas Day.

We'd love it if people shared this within the FinTech & Financial Services industries.

Interview With Pat Greene From The Dublin Simon Community

Laura spoke with Pat Greene from the Dublin Simon Community about the amazing work done by the Simon Community over the last 50 years.

Thanks to Pat for sharing his time and to all the team at Dublin Simon Community for everything they do.

Dublin Simon Community - 50 Years



Employee Engagement and Peak Performance - With Abigail Ireland

Employee Engagement and Peak Performance - With Abigail Ireland

November 19 2019

Following her excellent article in our Employee Retention Guide, peak performance strategist Abigail Ireland joined Laura & Paul to talk about employee engagement and peak performance.

You can visit Abigail's website here.

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

About Abigail

Abigail Ireland: I started back in banking back in 2005, 2006, and I worked my way up from private equity, acquisition finance. I was in strategy for a while. And after a few years, I think it was 2015 when I decided I wanted to set up my own business, and so did something completely different. But over that time of going into the more entrepreneurial space, I got more and more involved in productivity and performance, and what makes peak performers operate at their best. And so I consolidated everything I knew, and now I do work in that space. So doing training and coaching, executive workshops on peak performance. Essentially looking at the mind, body, and productivity as the three aspects of business, mind, and body, and how they all integrate to make people work at their best.

Paul: In the article you wrote for us, for our retention guide, you talked about the changing nature of work. What are the main things that you think managers and leaders should be thinking about for the future?

Abigail Ireland: I think one of the biggest things that people do need to realize is that the generations coming in, things are changing in terms of how people like to work. And one thing that I've noticed myself when I've gone back into the corporate world, is the way that even young people are, in how they work, is very different to how people who are maybe in the older generations would work. So it's about understanding that and being flexible enough to deal with different types of people, not always implementing a certain approach, a one-size-fits-all. And I think that's something that companies are realizing more and more now. It's about tailoring things to the individual, rather than making everyone conform to a certain way of working.

Paul: In terms of work that you do, I know you said your background is financial services, but do you work across different industries?

Abigail Ireland: Yes. I do lots of leadership and management training and coaching across all sorts of industries. I do still do a lot in financial services as well, and I do still notice some trends that are still there in terms of how people work. There is more flexibility in some companies over others, but there's still that mentality, in certain teams, of having to work crazy hours, just do what it takes to get the job done. And it attracts a certain type of person as well, I'd say, at the same time.

Paul: Yes, that was exactly what I was going to ask, because we work within financial services and FinTech specifically. And on the FinTech side, there're tech companies I happen to work in, financial services products, on the FS side, it's an awful lot trickier to implement change or look at kind of slightly different ways of doing things. Just wondering if you see the same things.

Abigail Ireland: Yes, definitely. And I think it's the larger organizations that are having the biggest trouble, because it's not only changing systems and the way that people work, it's moving a whole giant beast to try and make it more agile. It's also the people side. So changing mindsets and mentalities. People have been used to working a certain for so many years, and then suddenly... and they're all so used to that constant change in financial services. So restructures constantly happening, change of leadership. But I think there's almost a fatigue that's set in over the years, and now there's this whole shift towards going more digital and changing the way people work as well. And I think it takes a lot to move people on that journey.

Paul: In terms of financial services, again, one of the main things that we've noticed kind of through the report and from doing the podcast and everything else, one thing that keeps coming up all the time is that leadership and managers need to be authentic. So there's kind of two things at play. One is that they want to change and move and shift, but beanbags and pool tables don't quite feel right sometimes. So it isn't a case of you change seats, take a beanbag in a corner and you're kind of Google now. There's that kind of mismatch I suppose.

Abigail Ireland: There's also a lot of lip service towards certain things. Like they think if you put a ping pong table somewhere or a beanbag, it's going to change the way people are. But that's not the case. And it is really more about having ongoing changes in the way people work, habits changing, not just these one-off things that happen. And we have, I guess you'd say, the older school generation as well would have a different mindset in terms of things like that, and thinking that they aren't necessary. Whereas the younger generation, like I said earlier, are much more open to wanting to try different things, do things differently, see what works, what doesn't work. It's kind of like a conflict between the two generations, I think. And also because people used to work in a certain way, I think it makes it harder to change that and to be open to allowing different ways, because they didn't have that approach when they were working their way up the career ladder.

Paul: I always remember, someone I used to work for, trained in one of the big four accountancy firms, and he trained people were still smoking in the office. And that's a fairly obvious and dramatic change, but still a lot has changed over the years.

Employee Retention Guide

Laura: And Abigail, talked to our retention guide, which you very kindly contributed to. You talked about the why, what makes people tick, and using skills. Why do you think these are the keys to performance?

Abigail Ireland: So I think everyone needs drivers and reasons to show up at work and to keep that going on a sustainable basis. I think it can be a lot easier to show up at work and get things done in the short term, but if you want people to stay, if you want to retain people, you need to give them something to stay for. And this is different for different people. So it's really about understanding the individuals in your team, what makes them tick, what's important to them, what's going to make them motivated to want to be there and go the extra mile. And in the past, I think that's something that we haven't always focused on as much. It was very much, "You need to conform to the way things are done." Whereas now a lot of leaders are thinking, "We need to conform and change the way we work, to make sure each individual in the team has got what they need to perform at their best at work, and to stay and be happy whilst they're working."

Paul: In terms of performance, how do you actually measure performance, or what advice do you have around that?

Abigail Ireland: Performance can be measured based on results, which is the most obvious way, in terms of the outputs, the productivity of the team. But it can also be measured looking at engagement levels. So things like the engagement surveys that companies run every six months or every year. You can look at the levels of absenteeism in a team. So how often people are taking sick days. Turnover, how often people leave a team, are there high turnover rates in an organization. And I think from a team level, as a leader, you can really see when there's real high-performance in a team, because everyone's just working together very well in a dynamic way.

Paul: And people talk about this term flow, a kind of intangible almost, everything just seems to click.

Abigail Ireland: Yes. And it's being able to be creative, come up with ideas, not being stagnant, doing things the same way. High performers are very open to change and trying to do things or experimenting with doing things differently, and they also won't dwell and have that toxic environment that we so often come across, when you're in an environment where people have fatigued, and are sick of change, and sick of doing things differently.

Laura: Where do you see flexibility in terms of work fitting into all of this?

Abigail Ireland: Flexibility is something that still has a long way to go, and it depends on what people term as flexibility. So it could be flexibility in terms of the type of work you do, but also the traditional sense we're talking about, being able to work when you want to, in the way that you want to. In terms of the work I do, I look a lot at the energy levels of people. So when are you at your most productive versus when are you maybe going through a slump period in the day, and everyone's got a different cycle. So if companies are more flexible, it means that they can get the most out of their people at the same time, whilst keeping people happy. So whether that means people start later, finish later, or work at different times of day, working from home, all of those things help people to become happier employees, at the same time.

Paul: If you were advising someone in financial services around implementing flexibility and all of that around remote work or flexible hours, what advice would you give to leaders thinking about implementing this, or managers managing people, who now have this flexibility option?

Abigail Ireland: There definitely has to be a high level of trust in an organization. And that's probably what's missing, because what I've noticed is that even when organizations do implement flexible working, sometimes there's the, "Oh we need to check that you're online the whole time that you're at home, or we're going to call in and have a meeting every single day, just to micromanage and make sure that you're actually working." The distrust that that causes means that it demotivates people and makes them feel more and more likely to almost not want to work. So with organizations, being able to encourage people to work in a way that works best for them, and trust in them to do a good job, is what will help them to get ahead.

Paul: So with that in mind, how do you encourage people to do that? 

Abigail Ireland: I always think that it's for an individual to speak to their boss and say, "Can we trial flexible working for a week or for two weeks? Is that possible?" Hopefully most managers, most bosses, would say yes to a trial, and if it doesn't work in the way that they want it work, then fine, they can go back to doing the more inflexible, come to the office every single day for example, or having set hours. But if it does work well, then why not extend that for a longer time. And most people, if they're asking for a trial, will go over and above to make sure it works, so that they're more likely to allow that to happen in the future as well.

Paul: Yes, because they appreciate the flexibility. I suppose on the manager side, it must be really important to make sure that objectives are clear and communication around expectations is really clear as well.

Abigail Ireland: Definitely. One of the biggest things I noticed when I was in banking, I used to work a lot on the balanced scorecards and creating these, and working with all of the executives to come up with what the objectives are going to be for their teams. And even at that top level, it is so difficult to get the objectives down. A lot of the time there's confusion or debate over what the objectives should be and how they link into the overarching company objectives, and people are sometimes confused as to how they can actually translate those objectives and goals into the way that they work every day. So the more time that can be spent with people at all levels of the organization, to understand how what they're doing is contributing to the company's overarching strategy or strategic goals, the more effective those people will be in their jobs. They will feel like they're doing something that's worthwhile, and because of that recognition and that empowerment and that feeling of having a meaning in what they do, they're more likely to stay somewhere.


Laura: Excellent. What advice would you have for companies looking to drive performance and productivity?

Abigail Ireland: For me it comes down to not looking first at the outside, so looking at how can we get better results, or how can we increase sales. It's first looking at the individuals in the team. So going back to that, looking at the whole human point that I made earlier, it's about understanding each individual, actually looking at them as a human being. Are they operating at their best on a mental level, a physical level? Are they productive or are they just busy? And looking at how we can shape those individuals before we then look at what the actual work is. So I think looking at that side of things first is going to help to, not only drive high-performing individuals, but then also drive high-performing, happier teams, that work well together and then get the results.

Paul: Sounds good. Abigail, thanks a million for your time. If people want to find out a little bit more about you and your business and what you do, what's the best way to get in touch?

Abigail Ireland: So you can contact me on LinkedIn. So it's Abigail Ireland on LinkedIn. But also my website is probably one of the easiest ways to get in touch and just learn more about what I do, which is www.abigailireland.com. So it's an easy one to remember.

Paul: Especially for those of us in Ireland!

Abigail Ireland: Yes, exactly! 

Paul: Abigail, thanks a million for your time, and thanks again for your contribution.

Laura: Thank you.

Abigail Ireland: Thank you so much guys.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


How To Handle 2nd and 3rd Round Interviews

How To Handle 2nd and 3rd Round Interviews

November 13 2019

Made it through the first interview? Well done!

Below, Laura and Paul explain how to handle the second and third-round job interviews . . .

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


How To Handle 2nd and 3rd Round Interviews

Laura: Today we're going to discuss what the differences are between the second and third round entries because it is something that comes up quite a bit for us, isn't it?

Paul: Yeah. Well, I suppose it's the difference between the first rounds and next rounds.

Laura: Absolutely. What's the difference between the different stages, Paul?

Paul: Yeah, so I suppose first round... I always recommend that people make sure they leave their first-round having sold themselves really well and gives you the... Or that employer wants to bring you back. It's a little bit more about what you can do. It's a little bit more around putting your best foot forward. It's maybe not asking tricky questions of the employer for the very first round. You want to make sure that you're kind of brought back. Then, any rounds after that, whether it's a second-round with HR or third round case study or whatever, that's when you can kind of start to dig a little bit more into the company, I suppose.

Paul: But yeah, there are kind of differences between first, second, third, fourth, fifth or if you're with Google, 20 rounds of interviews. I suppose, some of them can be fundamentally different. Some places will do case studies or technical tests on the tech side or... But some of them can be similar seeming where you're just meeting different people from different parts of the organization. But there are differences between them.

Laura: Yeah. And I suppose something that comes up quite a bit with some of my candidates is, how should they prepare their answers? Particularly when there's the same interviewer involved in a different stage.

Paul: Yeah, I think it's one of the things that does throw people, and I've seen this, over the years. People get nervous around repeating themselves if they're... Especially if there is someone who was there in a previous round who's asked the same questions. But I think the thing to remember is that very likely, whoever wasn't there for previous rounds hasn't heard your answer for the questions. It may have been discussed. It may have come up for whatever reason, answers to particular questions or the overall gist of it, but they definitely haven't heard the same answers.

Paul: I think if they're different people asking the same questions, just don't let it throw you. You obviously answered the questions well the first time around, so answer them in the same way. Or if there was anything that you felt you could have improved on, feel free to make kind of tweaks or things like that. But don't let it put you off that you're being asked the same question again. Particularly if the person who asks you the question before isn't in the room.

Paul: If the person is in the room. I think it's as simple as, "I know we covered this with you, John or Mary or whatever the person's name is." And then go into whatever answer you gave previously. And if it's the case that you're being asked because they didn't get enough information the first time, or you felt you could have answered it better, or want to dig around it, they'll ask follow up questions. The person that was in the room the last time, will ask follow up questions. But yeah, just please don't get concerned if you're asked the same questions again. Don't let it throw you. You would have answered it well the first time, or else you wouldn't have been brought back, basically.


Laura: Yes. Take it as a real positive. It is okay to reuse previous examples as you said. The initial interviewer is bringing you back because they liked what they saw in the previous round.

Paul: Yeah, exactly. One of the things I've started to see a little bit more for some reason is people asking, or they're bringing a lot of people back or... And I think the gist of it is, from the candidate side or from the job seeker side is, are they bringing me back to make up the numbers or anything like that. Certainly, clients that we work with aren't bringing you back just to make up the numbers.

Laura: No, definitely not.

Paul: Particularly for second or third rounds. You're being brought back on merit because you've answered questions well, so just remember that. Remember that the answers that you gave the first time around, are answers that you can give the second time around. I suppose, the one maybe piece of advice or the one thing that you could potentially do to improve on what you did last time is, very often when you leave an interview, you'll think about questions, you'll think about stuff, "Maybe I would have answered a little bit differently, or better," or it'll kind of trigger something. No harm in doing a little bit of a postmortem after interviews.

Paul: It doesn't need to be massively detailed. You don't need to go into every single answer and forensically examine it. But if there was something that you spoke about that you felt you could have improved on, or could do a little bit more research, do that in between rounds. Then it's simply, "Guys, you know I would have spoken about this in the first round, or in the last round. And I've had a good think about it since, and actually just to evolve the point or just to add to the point I made the last time. Maybe you could think about X, Y and Z, or maybe I do X, Y and Z." That'd be the kind of other advice. It's an opportunity to build on what you've done before.

Laura: Yeah, absolutely. Any other advice, Paul?

Paul: No. I think all the standard advice for interviews, bear that all in mind, we've podcasts on behavioral & competency-based interviews, how to do all your prep, make sure to look up the interviewer in advance. All of that kind of stuff applies and be confident going into second rounds and third rounds. Bear in mind, that it is a little bit more of an opportunity for you to maybe ask questions to get a little bit more comfortable with the company, with the role, with the people that you're going to be working with. And we did a podcast on what questions to ask in your job interview. I think that becomes a little bit more important as you go through. And certainly, if there were any concerns that were highlighted from a first or second or whatever round, it's a good opportunity to get those answers. But yeah, all that would be the main advice for any additional rounds past the first round.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Chief Happiness Officer: Evelien Veenman

Chief Happiness Officer: Evelien Veenman

November 06 2019

Laura & Paul had a fascinating discussion with Evelien Veenman about her unusual role as Chief Happiness Officer at the innovative Dutch company, Experius.

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

About Evelien

Evelien Veenman: I live in Utrecht and I also work in Utrecht in the Netherlands. I did study social work and I've always been interested in psychology. And the last years I've grown into the role of chief happiness officer at Experius, and for me, it's all about creating a great place to work. And I do my best every day to provide for the general wellbeing of the employees at Experius. And I do this through my own happiness at work model, and it has a few components. Safety and trust are two of them. They are the basic condition for happiness. If there's no safety within the organization or team or trust, then it's hard to be happy at your workplace.

Evelien Veenman: And also, connection, having a true connection with your own activities, with your colleagues. And also with the mission of the company that you work at. And progress is also an important element. And progress can mean something different to one person and to another. Some want to develop quicker than others, and some people just want to know what do I need to do to be good at my job.

Evelien Veenman: I've noticed a lot of people don't know this, and also appreciation is very important. To give and to receive positive reinforcement, I think we can do that a lot more as adults. And I think it's very important that a chief happiness officer has a lot of empathy, can listen well, and can make a connection between people.

Paul: Evelien, in terms of something you mentioned around connections, and we spoke about this before, why is making that connection and being part of something and creating value more important today than it was previously?

Evelien Veenman: Yeah, I'm not sure if it's more important today. I think you go way back in history, people always wanted to be a part of something. And I think maybe now more than ever, but yeah, I don't think it's a trend in recent years, but I do think the nature of our work has changed. Also, the clear separation between work-life balance is more off than ever. And this is due to the increased accessibility to be able to work everywhere. For example, wifi, mobile phones, you can read your email before going to sleep. So, due to these growing technological developments, we are increasingly interested in everything and everyone. And at the same time, we are more lonely than ever.

Evelien Veenman: Positive psychology has been around since I think 1998, so this is already 21 years ago. And the role of Chief Happiness Officer has started in the last four years, so that is more recent. What we see in our company is that Millennials realize more than their previous generations that work-life balance is becoming increasingly vague. And that it's important that your employer delivers a positive contribution in this regard.

Paul: Okay. And I suppose you talked a lot about technology and blurred lines between and outside of work. Do you think technology has had a massive impact in terms of how we work and how we operate and happiness I suppose overall?

Evelien Veenman: Yeah, because what I said is you can now work everywhere you want to, and it's really easy when you are at home with your family or alone to open your laptop or even on your phone, or now also on your watch to check incoming emails or that kind of stuff. And what neuropsychology also says, it's not good for your brains. So, our brains are on the whole time. Due to all this, yeah, the TV, the mobile phone, all these things. And I think that was a lot different when we didn't have that at home.

Evelien Veenman: So, our brains need different activities to be able to relax and at the end of the day that also helps in being happier.

Laura: Excellent. Evelien, just back to happiness, what is it and what is happiness at work?

What Is Happiness At Work?

Evelien Veenman: Yeah, good question. There is a difference between happiness and happiness at work. Of course, no one else can be accountable for your happiness but yourself. And in my role as the chief happiness officer, I can't make an unhappy person happy, but I can create an environment in which people can feel safe, have fun, and develop themselves. I think happiness is a state of mind, it's a combination of how satisfied you are with your life and how good you feel on a day to day basis. And happiness at work means experiencing fun, meaning and fulfillment, and also having a say.

Paul: In terms of your own then as chief happiness officer, and again we talked about this before, it's not the most common title in the world. Is there a risk that a chief happiness officer role can be potentially seen as smiling as a bit silly? Just curious, what's the real benefit of a role like that for a business?

Evelien Veenman: Yeah, well I do get a lot of laughs indeed when people hear chief happiness officer. So, the title is a bit laughable but the job is very serious and necessary. And the real benefit if someone on the sideline who has the time for your employees so they can share, feel appreciated, and make a true connection. Someone who listens and has attention for each person to create in a sport of positive workplace culture.

Chief Happiness Officer

Evelien Veenman: So, yeah, it's for a better environment for employees and also for the employer. And a happy employee often means a more productive employee, so also better functioning. And then at the end of the day a more happier and loyal customer. So, it's good all-around to have a Chief Happiness Officer.

Paul: So, you talked about productivity. I suppose just with my management hat on almost, are there tangible benefits in terms of reducing turnover, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity? Is there something you can measure.

Evelien Veenman: Yeah, you can measure that. We also measure ... we ask for people every week to give a grade on their happiness at work. And also, how much workload they experience. Yeah, but we also notice and I think you can recognize that also with yourself when you have a good day, you are way more productive, you think in more solutions. You are nicer to the people around you. So yeah, it makes sense that when you are happier, you're also better at your work. You're less likely to call in sick or that kind of stuff.

Paul: Yeah. I think when you're happy everything just seems a little bit easier.

Evelien Veenman: Yeah. And it's not ... happiness doesn't mean you have to be happy all the time. Happiness and sadness are not opposites. Happiness means that you can allow all emotions, so also fear, anger and grief. So happiness doesn't mean only smiling the whole time, but you are ... you think more in solutions and you have more, how do you say it? I'm looking for the right words. Resilience. Yes.

Paul: Resilience is becoming more and more important I think in today's work environment.

Evelien Veenman: Yes.

Laura: Evelien, just switching over to a question that might be of interest to our job seekers listening to this podcast, so company culture has become more and more important for people. So, if a job seeker is in an interview scenario, what clues into a new company's culture should they look out for?

Company Culture Clues

Evelien Veenman: Well, I think you can do different things. First of all check the company's website and also check their social posts. It can tell you a bit if a company is, for example, formal or informal, like us. And see if they have won any awards in being a good employer. For example, talent development or sustainable employability, that can give you some clues. And also, when you're at a company for your first job interview, check the office space. Can you feel a good vibe? Are the employees talking to each other? Do they say hi to you? How is the interview? Really try to feel the atmosphere. And if you're not convinced, ask if you can go operate for a day.

Evelien Veenman: And also I think important is check your own network carefully. Where do your friends and maybe old fellow students, do they have good recommendations for good employers?

Paul: And being really conscious that good can mean different things for different people, and some people prefer different cultures to others.

Company culture

Paul: How would you advise someone to know or understand what type of culture they'd like to work in?

Evelien Veenman: I think you would have to check your previous jobs or experience. And really think what appealed to me and what not? What gives you energy? I think in general good self-reflection about previous experience and strong self-knowledge. Do you need a lot of freedom and ownership, or do you like a manager who tells you what to do? One person thrives on a formal structure where this is more clarity and rules and procedures, and the other more on an informal structure with for example self-managed teams like us.

Evelien Veenman: So, in short, I think to gain some experience and learn from it.

Laura: Sure. Thank you so much for that, Evelien. 

Evelien Veenman: Maybe also listen to your intuition. It tells you a lot more than you sometimes think. Feel your gut. When you are somewhere for the first job interview and it doesn't feel good, then it's probably not your best environment.

Laura: Evelien, what quick tips and best practice advice would you have for companies looking to improve happiness overall?

How To Improve Happiness In Your Company

Evelien Veenman: Well, first of all, of course, hire a Chief Happiness Officer. But also what we do, what I said before is the happiness index. So we ask people for a grade for their happiness at work, and also their workload. And really intervene if someone has a low grade, so talk to someone, what can we do to make it better? And also some companies have for one year or two times in one year have a conversation with their people. We have biweekly dinners. So, talk to your people a lot so you know what's going on and so you can help them.

Evelien Veenman: Coaching also, we have a coach coming every Wednesday to talk to people. And very important, celebrate your successes and also fuck ups if I can say it like that. Really, there are a lot of successes in a company small and big, but because everything is going so quickly, you forget them. So, celebrate them with your team. And we have self managing teams, which means a lot of freedom for people so they can do their job how they think it fits them well. And also fun the work, no one said you can't have fun at work.

Evelien Veenman: I also do a lot of work outings, so people just get to know each other. And often when they get to know each other better, there's also more trust.

Paul: Great stuff there Evelien for companies who want to really look at happiness and how they can implement that. Well, thank you for your time, really appreciate it and it's been a really interesting conversation.

Evelien Veenman: Yeah, I also liked it. I maybe have one tip for individuals, because of course you can not always change the situation, but you can change how you look at the situation. You have a lot more influence perhaps than you think on your own happiness.

Paul: I agree. Certainly something I've discovered through coaching anyway. But thanks again for your time, Evelien, and let's try and make companies happy.

Evelien Veenman: Yes, that would be great!

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Increasing the level of positive leadership in Ireland - (with Joanne Hession of LIFT Ireland)

Increasing the level of positive leadership in Ireland - (with Joanne Hession of LIFT Ireland)

November 04 2019

Laura & Paul had a fascinating discussion with Joanne Hession of LIFT Ireland about LIFT's inspiring mission to increase the level of positive leadership in Ireland.

About Joanne Hession

Joanne Hession is passionate and effective in helping individuals and organisations to achieve their potential by leveraging expert leadership training and entrepreneurial attributes.

A company director by the age of 27 she went on to found two companies of her own and today is the Executive Director of The Entrepreneurs Academy and QED The Accreditation Experts as well as being an Executive Director of The John Maxwell Team (largest leadership training organisation in the world).

In 2018 Joanne stepped aside from her business to found and dedicate her time to a national leadership initiative, LIFT Ireland.

LIFT Ireland builds authentic leadership across the country, at the kitchen table, in the classroom, clubhouse and boardroom.

Joanne’s business, The Entrepreneurs Academy has trained over 30 thousand people towards success over 20+ years.

Currently an elected Council member of Dublin Chamber, Joanne is focused on equipping leaders to fulfil their potential. Joanne is a passionate advocate of servant and authentic leadership. 

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

Interview Notes

Joanne Hession: I was always big into business. I loved business, studied business and went into accountancy after, if I go back that far, went into accountancy and then worked for UCD. I thought I would always stay in business but something in my mid-twenties made me I suppose go searching for something else. I left in my mid-twenties and I headed off with Concern Worldwide to the Rwandan refugee camps. I was on the border and I worked there for a couple of years.

Joanne Hession: I think that probably was one of the things that led me to where I am now in that being catapulted from a very comfortable home with my mom and dad and siblings, all the way over to refugee camps where people have absolutely nothing but the clothes on their backs, so it certainly puts everything in perspective for you.

Joanne Hession: Anyway, I came back from there aged 27 and definitely with a renewed love for education and what education can do because when you've got nothing at all, if you've education, nobody can ever steal that off you. I had a new respect I think and love for education and came back and set up my own business then when I was 27. I think I was about 27, 28 and set up a business in education.

Joanne Hession: That business is that 21 years old now. We train people to set up their own business and it's called the Entrepreneurs Academy. It's a great business and I absolutely love it, but I think probably in my thirties I think, as I was running my business and I was busy at home, I had three kids under the age of five, so it was busy all the time. I'd sort of look at [inaudible 00:02:22] and my team and they were great people and we were doing well. But I'd kind of look and think, do you know what? If he could just do his job and I do mine then we'd be doing a lot better. Then I might look at another one and go, oh, you know, if you could just do your job, she could do her job and I'll do mine. It just felt like I was pushing the business like a rock up a hill.

Joanne Hession: When I really sat back and thought about it, I actually took holidays one year and took nine books away with me and said, I'm going to sort out what this is. I realized, I didn't think I would, but I realized when I was reading all these books that the problem wasn't the team at all. It was me. That I was managing well, but I just wasn't leading well. I wasn't leading myself well and I wasn't leading the business well. Once I really started to study leadership, then I realized that actually, do you know what? Everything really goes up or down based on how good a leader you are and I really wasn't performing as a good one.

Joanne Hession: So I started to study leadership. I started to do a lot of study both here and abroad. As a result I got invited into am a number of organizations to work with their top teams on leadership. It just kept on striking me all the time that it's great to be able to do this and I loved doing it, but so much pivots or depends on the character of the individual. That leadership, so much of it is about character rather than it being about IQ and that if we could help everyone in our nation to build their inner leader, that we would end up with a much better country and I suppose we'd have a much better impact on society.

Starting LIFT Ireland

Joanne Hession: It was on the back of my mind that I'd love to be able to offer something out to all the schools that are out there, not just young students and teenage students, but also teachers and principals and also all the nonprofits that we have, that just can't afford really great leadership training and yet all need excellent education in the whole area of personal development and personal leadership.

Joanne Hession: That is kind of, in a very roundabout way how LIFT started. I'd be talking to people in 2017 and 2016 and probably for many years before that and saying, "Do you know what? We really need to do something in this country because we have a great country, we've got amazing people here. We've got wonderful education, beautiful countryside, fabulous arts, media. We've won the birth lottery by being here and yet, if we look at it, we still have issues across every single sector of society." I mean across our institutions, across our sports institutions, our business institutions, our church. There isn't an area of society or charities where there haven't been issues that really fall down on leadership. If we look at it, even though we are from such a, privileged is an unusual word to use, but we're very lucky where we live and yet we're good with a small G rather than being good with a big G.

Joanne Hession: A number of us got together and said, okay, well let's do something about this, and we started LIFT Ireland, which is a nationwide initiative to raise the level of leadership in the country. Not positional leadership, it's not a criticism of anybody in any position, but it's me saying if I get a little bit better, personally how I lead myself and my family, my companies, my community, and if you also do the same and if the next person does the same, then together we'll have more positive influence. Just by the way that it all happens, we will influence and have a positive effect on society.

LIFT Ireland logo

Paul: Thanks, Joanne. There's loads I could ask you on that. One thing I just wanted to pick up on and get your thoughts on because our podcast is listened to by people who'd be moving into management positions for the first time or progressing through a management career. What's the difference between leadership and management?

Joanne Hession: Yeah, it's a great question, and do you know, the two words are used interchangeably and they really shouldn't be because they're very, very different things. In fact, when I studied business in the early nineties there might have been one leadership class in a whole business course, so they were intermingled and there wasn't a really good understanding of what leadership was. The books were on the same shelves and so on, but management is about doing things in the right way, at the right time by the right people. If you're a good manager, you're making sure that the right people are doing the right things in the right way, at the right time. Okay? So you can be a really excellent manager, but you might not be an excellent leader.

Joanne Hession: To be able to see if an excellent manager is also a great leader, ask them to create really substantial change because a leader is somebody that you want to follow. If you ask a manager to create great change, if people don't really want to follow them in that change, then they're not really leading. That's where the leadership skills really come into play because a leader is somebody that has positive influence, that you will follow. I mean think yourselves of people that you admire or that you would want to follow in your own workplaces or people that you know. There are people that have got strong character attributes, as well as other things. It doesn't mean that they're naturally great managers, but they are people you want to follow.

Paul: You kind of talked to us already about I suppose where LIFT came from, but it's a really big idea. I suppose when you're talking about leadership, it must take an awful lot of leadership to push LIFT, if you know what I mean.

Joanne Hession: Yeah. Look, it is. It's a huge initiative that we have. We're looking here to transform a country. That's what we're going to do. Over the next 10 years, by 2028 we are looking to get 10% of the population of the island living LIFT or being in touch with LIFT, so that they raise their personal leadership. That in turn, will create a tipping point. In fact, I think it would probably create it before then in Ireland because we're so well networked. But it will create a tipping point where we have an impact on society.

Joanne Hession: Because I mean if you look at any of the research, it shows that helping people to achieve their potential, if you help people to achieve, to raise their potential, to achieve their potential, this has an enormous impact on society. At a very practical level, it means that I may make a better decision on a day, or I may have more positive influence with somebody on my team, which means that they go home and in turn feel better about their jobs.

Joanne Hession: Whereas what we actually have at the moment is quite low engagement in our workforces and often we have high stress for people in their jobs and people not really being engaged. If we can all raise ourselves a little bit, that will in turn have an impact and a knock-on effect in society. But yes, it is huge, and in terms of leadership, don't get me wrong, I'm not doing this all on my own. I absolutely love it. I have stepped away from my own businesses to volunteer full time for LIFT and drive LIFT Ireland forward. But I have a superb advisory board made up of 12 really competent individuals that are fantastic. On top of that we also have eight different teams that are all working on different areas of LIFT. So some are volunteers and we've just got two people that are working full time for LIFT. But in this second year of LIFT Ireland we will increase those numbers because we just have to in order to achieve the goals we've set.

Paul: In terms of LIFT then, obviously it's broader than just the professional side, in terms of organizations, but what types of organizations are you targeting or looking to get on board with this?

Joanne Hession: Yeah, so every single organization and individual is invited to LIFT Ireland. Loads of people have asked me over the last year and a half or so are, "Is that group invited? Is that group invited?" Everybody is invited. It doesn't matter from where. It doesn't matter where you're from. It doesn't matter what you believe in or don't believe in. It doesn't matter what political party you're part of or known. It really doesn't matter. We don't care at all. Every single organization is invited.

Joanne Hession: Initially, when LIFT started, and I should have said this actually in the last question too, with regard to not starting this myself, 23 founding partners came in behind us. There were organizations like the ESB, like the CPL Group, AIB, WeddingDates. So we had small organizations and then we had huge large organizations like Dublin Airport Authority. They all came behind those. Digicom. Huge number of different organizations, Enterprise Ireland, RTÉ, Musgraves and so on. They said, yes, we will come on behind this and we will start to live LIFT within our organizations.

Joanne Hession: They would be the more commercial organizations that are behind it. But then there are lots of other organizations that are also involved, like the LauraLynn Foundation or Munster Rugby, or others that are involved. The way we work at is that we ask any organization that can afford to give a financial contribution to LIFT to give us one and then we give it for free to any other organization that would like to be involved.

Joanne Hession: We are inundated with schools that would like to. They get their 16 year old transition years to start to live LIFT and then the transition years are doing it with the 14 year olds in schools. At the same time the teachers are doing is in the staff rooms. So it's absolutely open to everybody, nobody is turned away. If you can afford to contribute to do and if you don't, you don't.

Living LIFT

Laura: Great. Thanks for that Joanne. What does living LIFT actually mean?

Joanne Hession: Yeah. A great question because this is a big initiative and it's hard to get your head around sometimes. What living LIFT means is that you go through the LIFT program, and LIFT is a series of eight round tables. They only take 30 minutes each to take part in. Laura and Paul, you two and myself, we could do LIFT round table here and now. It would take us probably about 15 or 20 minutes. We sit and over eight weeks, once a week we look at a different area of leadership.

Joanne Hession: When we look at that area of leadership, we self reflect on that area and we go, do you know what? How good was I at that in the last 24 hours and how could I get a tiny bit better? We have a LIFT process that we actually take you through. We teach people how to do it and then they can follow the process.

Joanne Hession: The eight areas that we go through are areas that Irish people voted on as the areas that are most important for us to build as leaders. The areas that they said we need to become better at, in terms of leadership in Ireland are we need to become better at listening. We need to become better at holding each other accountable, but also holding ourselves accountable. We need to become more competent, more drive and determination, more empathy, more integrity, more positive attitude and more respect.


Joanne Hession: Each time you sit at one of these LIFT round tables, you look at one of those eight areas of leadership and you go through a reflective process that we teach you how to do and learn how to build that muscle inside you. Because if three of us suddenly looked at listening now and started to think, how good was I at listening before this podcast and yesterday, and was I really listening to people? We will start to raise our self-awareness around listening. Then when you do it, once, that really starts to improve your behavior. But then after you do the eight round tables, you start them again and you do listening again. So in nine weeks' time you do it again. So it's about embedding this good behavior all the time and building your inner leader. Am I explaining that well enough for you?

Paul: Yeah, and it's really interesting actually because the eight areas you talk about, they're not the kind of traditional things that you'd see on a management transition course in a big company. They almost sound like values.

Joanne Hession: Yeah, they are. It's sort of like, we've got a lot of academic-led education, which is really important, but we're missing, we have a gap in fundamental values education. If you look at a lot of the leadership, for example, one of the things that really breaks down in teams when they're working together is when trust falls, and why does trust fall or break down?

Joanne Hession: If the three of us were in a meeting together and all of a sudden one of you starts to cut across me and sort of ignore me, then you're disrespecting me and suddenly I start to feel disrespected and trust starts to break down. It is actually these fundamental values or good attributes, character, good character attributes that really build your inner leader. That's what they do. It's the kind of thing that your granny would have told you to do years ago. But we've kind of lost sight of some of them. Not everybody has, but we can all definitely improve in them.

Laura: Definitely. I suppose while we're on the topic of values, what we're seeing more and more of is authenticity has become more important for people within a company. How important is authenticity in leadership within all of this?

Joanne Hession: Oh, for me it's everything. For me it's everything. In fact, LIFT is really all about being your authentic itself. It's about being able to bring yourself to work. So in a LIFT round table, one of the aspects of it is, is that there is no judgment and no commenting. No matter what I say, I can just be myself. If the two of you are in my round table with me, you can't comment and you can't judge me. They're the rules of the game. It allows people, the freedom to just be themselves, to be authentic.

Joanne Hession: Because if you look at the world now, the world is full of judgment. We are being judged all the time and we are judging all the time, both online and offline. It can be very difficult to be your authentic self. Whereas LIFT is all about allowing you to be yourself and me to be myself because it's only by doing that, that you look at me and say, "Do you know what? She's exactly the same as me. She's human," and I'm looking at you going, "Do you know, you guys are human too."

Joanne Hession: That's what's gorgeous about this. It can sound very soft and it can sound very fluffy, and I'm telling you there is nothing soft or fluffy about this. I think it was Renee Brown that said recently the soft stuff is the hard stuff and she's absolutely right. This stuff is what's hard and certainly from the work I've done with leadership teams and big corporates, it is this soft stuff that people find extremely hard because either you were taught it a lot of the time as you were growing up within your family or you've had very good mentoring or managers or leaders in work that have helped you with it. But more often than not, behavior is just keep going on and silence is approval and people are behaving in ways that they're actually just not aware that they shouldn't be.

Paul: Yeah, I agree 100% stuff that the soft stuff is sometimes the hard stuff and certainly something I see in the coaching side of what we do in this type of business, in terms of living LIFT, what have you seen that has been the impact of organizations that are living LIFT?

The Impact of LIFT Ireland

Joanne Hession: We've seen huge impact. I think the biggest thing for us has been that almost 90% of people that have gone through the eight weeks of the eight round tables, 89 point something percent of people are saying that they can cite behavior change as a result of it.

Joanne Hession: Now what we're looking for is small actions, small behavior change, because it's small actions that lead to great change. That's a huge percentage of people going through the LIFT process that are actually saying their behavior is changing. As some of this may be that in a work context, if somebody enters the room, they're moving from their laptop or from a computer or they're not looking at their mobile phone or whatever that might be, but that kind of change, that builds respect, that builds trust. People are listening more and that all builds positive influence, so that's really important.

Joanne Hession: We're looking for three types of change or three types of impact. At an individual level, at an organizational level and then at a society, the level of society. We're too young yet to see it at the level of society because we've only just started our second year, but certainly at an individual and at an organizational level, the organizations that are involved with us are seeing greater engagement. They're citing examples where real problems are being solved because people are in the same LIFT round tables and have a common language that they can use to explore things and talk about things.

Joanne Hession: We've done a lot of work with RSA and fantastic people in there. Noelle Burke is the HR director and Amanda Johnson, and Ken Norgrove is the CEO. Ken himself said that when they did it at their executive level that it just gave them a really greater understanding of each other as individuals. But also he said his respect and his admiration for his colleagues just absolutely heightened by things he was learning. Just by hearing about them talk about these different character attributes. We've seen a lot of change, but we have a long way to go yet. But certainly after year one we've seen a lot of positive impact, it's definitely the concept has been proven.

Laura: Thank you very much for that, Joanne. If people want to get in touch or find out more about LIFT, what should they do next?

Joanne Hession: Yes, just go to LIFT Ireland.ie. There's an events page there. If anybody would like to learn how to live LIFT, you become a facilitator so you learn how to facilitate one of the round tables and you can bring it into your organization then, or you could do it with a group of friends or your family, whatever you'd like to do, or in a club. We've got it running in GAA clubs and other organizations around the country. Just go to liftireland.ie Go to the events if you'd like to see the events and on the website there's a lot of detail about our partner organizations and those who are involved in it. If anybody would like to get involved, I'd just urge them to jump in.

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The Power Of Your Employer Brand [Discussion With Niamh O’Connor]

The Power Of Your Employer Brand [Discussion With Niamh O’Connor]

October 29 2019

Laura & Paul had a fascinating discussion about employer branding with Niamh O'Connor, Brand Strategist at The Pudding.

The Pudding is a commercial and creative brand agency in Dublin. They work with companies to build, re-position and grow game-changing corporate and employer brands.

Read on or listen in to understand the power of employer branding and how to make it work in your business to attract (and retain) talent in the financial services and Fintech industries.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

About Niamh

Niamh O'Connor: Unusually, I started out life as an accountant. I trained with PWC, which is a little unusual perhaps for working in this sector. After qualifying, I moved into their sales and marketing teams. I got a fantastic grounding in business and then I moved to the marketing side. I was never super passionate about accounting so it was lovely to be able to actually transition into a different role within PWC, which was great. I moved I after 10 years then to CPL which introduced me to the world of recruiting and employer brands. It was a totally different side of business for me to see so it was really good.

Then, two years ago, I joined The Pudding then which was fantastic in terms of enabling me to bring it all together, if you'd like.

I head up the brand strategy side of the business. We are delivering brand strategy to a really exciting portfolio of clients that we're fortunate to have. The Pudding then is like a branding company, we call it, which is a mix between a design studio as you probably know it and then also more the advisory side. The management consulting site and we work with brands in two areas really. To simplify, we work with them on the corporate brand site. That's where for example, they might be expanding internationally. They want to reposition their brand to a different segment of customers.

Niamh O'Connor: And we would work with them across all elements of that from the look and feel of it, to their messaging. And then how did they actually bring it to life, which is great. The other side of the business then is obviously the employer brand site. And that's where we effectively get to work on the people side with brands as they look to attract and retain them effectively. So yes, that's what we do.

What Is An Employer Brand? 

Paul: In terms of employer branding, you very kindly did an article for us on our recent retention guides. 

Niamh O'Connor employer branding quote

Paul: What exactly is an employer brand? And why should companies care about?

Niamh O'Connor: Yes, I want to start at the context first because I think the context makes things even more relevant and applicable. As you guys well know we're as close to full employment as we could get, from an economic perspective. And really interesting in that I suppose the number one challenge facing CEOs in Ireland is actually talent and over 80% of them see it as actually inhibiting their growth. Which is really worrying. And just over a part of them effectively then see it as actually missing targets when it comes to business. I suppose that for me is that the business side of it coming to bear, in terms of if you can get people you can't actually in a win inhibitor growth and it will prevent you from successfully growing your business, certainly as fast as you want to. I think that's really interesting.

Niamh O'Connor: I was just a few days ago as well was, I don't know possibly you guys saw it. The Adair HR report. We're looking at 14,000 euros in terms of they're qualifying the cost of and the impact of you losing somebody from your business. So again, I suppose for me the financial side and the impact of it is really key. If you come to what exactly is it? I think there's a lot of misconceptions, it's not bean bags, it's not fluffy, it's not your careers website other than it's part of it. So I suppose how we... the easiest way to explain it is that it's your identity effectively as an employer. Okay? And a nice way to think about it, is really it's the deal or maybe deals is two sales a year, but it's their relationship and the experience that you have as an employee with your employer. That has some functional parts to it. It has some economic, you get paid for example, and it has a huge psychological part to it. So it's how you identify and how you engaged and how you are engaged effectively with your employer. What's interesting as well, as I suppose from an employee perspective, you get developed and you get career opportunities from your employer and on the other side of it, if you think about that deal again, the employer effectively gets your performance, it gets engagement from you. And then I suppose building on that a little bit deeper is it gets commitment from you and loyalty, effectively. And I suppose that's really the magic part because the main objective for any employer brand is you want to be the employer of choice.

Employee Retention Guide

Niamh O'Connor: You want it to be super clear how you are exclusive and you're really different from the competitors and that obviously allows you then to attract talent. Loads of financial benefits to it. I could be here for the day in terms of allowing you to hire faster, get better quality candidates. And I state... again, I suppose that the more traumatic stats always make people sit up I think. But like over 50% just won't consider your brand if you have a bad or poor or not an attractive employer brand irrespective of salary. I think that's so relevant in terms of the context we're actually looking at.

Laura: Yes. We see it all the time and on the salary side we can just to keep, there's not a huge amount of differentiation between different places. People generally can expect to earn their worth in a market like this in particular. It is things like brand and how that's communicated and everything else. And it's like a bad review for restaurants on TripAdvisor. A bad experience can really damage. And so yes, really interesting.

Can Brand Strategy Help Retain Good Employees?

Laura: Retention is key, particularly in today's economy. I can see how the brand strategy will help attract but how would it help retain those good employees?

Niamh O'Connor: Great question. I think it's actually quite clear everyone knows the external side of it because you need to communicate as to why you're different. You need to build up those core assets, whether it's online or wherever it is. And then you need to... often we would see as well, different organizations running specific campaigns to attract specific skillsets. I want to hire 50 developers and I will run something specific to that in terms of content. If I flip then, internal to the organization, and it really is back to that concept of the relationship with the organization. Okay? And if you think about it as a relationship in your own life, there are two sides to it and it needs to be fair.

Niamh O'Connor: And I'm in front of you two guys, you're always evaluated and you're always developing it and it's always evolving. Which is really interesting I think. And that's the case for everyone that you have working in your organization. And you see just under 30% of people, CEOs will try to hire from competitors this year. At any point in time, your existing workflows will be, whether you like it or not, receiving offers from competitor brands. So in terms of thinking about how the brand actually I suppose impacts retention, it's actually around satisfaction with the role and also their commitment. When the values of the organization and the attitudes and the work environment are aligned with what the actual employee wants and values, that's when you have the magic, if you like, of moving towards a place where you're looking at and you're able to actually leverage brand advocates.

Niamh O'Connor: Getting your employees to actually proactively recommend and go out there, they may be out with their friends and a conversation comes up around employers and you want them to be able to say, "Gosh, you have to work at, whatever the brand is." And that's when you know that that experience and that deal is working really well. The more of those you obviously have. There's fantastic report from Deloitte actually about what makes an irresistible employee experience. And I think so many of those elements are wrapped up with, if you like, the employer brand. Employees want to hear about what the brand is. What do we stand for? Loads and loads of research around purpose and alignment of values. Values, not the fluffy ones. So as we know, more and more brands are looking into performance. They want them to be really tangible, otherwise they may just be on the ward because they're not actually real values in terms of how people actually behave. And what gets rewarded in organization as well.

Niamh O'Connor: I think working across, if you like, with that experience and working on it and continuing to develop it effectively will impact the satisfaction of the employee and drive their commitment and loyalty. And that's where you see it kicking in then to retention. Does that make sense?

Paul: Keywords and phrases on a wall don't cut it?

Niamh O'Connor: No. Definitely not. A really nice example of this is probably Netflix. There's a culture book, which is well worth looking at. It's called your deck actually, and you'll find it on SlideShare. But they talk a lot about stars and having stars. What's really interesting about them from a boiler brand perspective is they tell you what they don't want. Okay? They only want high performance and they proactively say that's not for everyone. So you're automatically getting candidates to self select, "That is for me, I do want to work in an environment like this." And they talk about their values in a really interesting way around there, the expected behaviors that people get rewarded on and that they want to see from their colleagues every day.

Paul: Openness and transparency and authenticity.

Niamh O'Connor: Exactly.

Paul: The authenticity side is really interesting for me and you hear a lot about being an authentic leader on the culturing side that we talked about earlier are coming up and authenticity is really, really important. I know for me as a coach in the inner business that I'm authentic and showing up authentically is really important. How important is authenticity in a brand?

Niamh O'Connor: Yes. It's absolutely key is what I would say to you, if you're, I suppose it's like bad marketing is how I would describe it. If you are trying to portray an employer brand, that isn't authentic. Somebody may join, but they won't stay and that's really it. Very simply.

Paul: You get found out.

Niamh O'Connor: You get found out pretty quickly because they're like, "You said it would be like this and nobody talks to each other here." So I think the more authentic it is, that the better it is. And the more authentic and rounded actually how you communicate about the brand to people before they join. I think looking at the different industry sectors, if I think even financial services, it does... I think there's a big opportunity there. It is seen as more tradition, more conservative, if you look at, some of the big brands you don't see a huge level of openness.

Niamh O'Connor: And what I mean by that, is that giving over for BOSH Racine probably more generally and other sectors is taking down the veil a little bit and allowing not perfect content to actually represent it. A lovely example is, booking.com, actually they gave their, now obviously they have a lovely industry and they're all about empowering people to travel effectively and they're including their employees. So they gave all their staff GoPro's and they allowed them to actually, go around with the GoPro on and they caught that content. Then used it to promote I suppose, what it's really like every day working for them.

Niamh O'Connor: If you just think about that from a practical perspective, giving all your employees, effective your people, that level of, I suppose, transparency with the brand, it is an extreme version. But you would love... and I think the big opportunity is to actually make things more real and create content that's actually not just the lovely staff photography and the insides of the buildings. That it's actually more authentic to the role. Because at the end of the day here, we are trying to advertise and promote roles and jobs. So the closer you can get to giving people and candidates a proper sentence of actually what the day to day job is going to be like, the more effective it's likely to be. So I think there's a really exciting opportunity for more financial service brands to do that.

Paul: I think that's a really interesting one. So I met a client yesterday and we were talking about something similar and she was saying, perhaps we're seen as this very traditional and stuffy want to change us. But I think a lot of financial services around this kind of feel we need to stick a bean bag in the corner and pool tables and blah, blah blah. But at the same time, like Netflix, is authentic about looking for high performers. If you are suited and booted and that's what you want to be and that's what you should be because there's people looking for that.

Niamh O'Connor: And it's okay to say that. We did some-

Paul: Ownership.

Niamh O'Connor: Yes. Like Onus. I didn't pay for that fall in advance. We did an interesting piece of work with Smyth's Toys recently and it was all about ownership and responsibilities or they ran a campaign around 'You Own It' and it was interesting in terms of working with the guys because it's like there's almost a "Can we say that?" And absolutely you can say that. That you want people who are, who really take ownership, they're really into accountability. There is a certain type of person that wants that, but equally there's certain type of person that doesn't want it.

Niamh O'Connor: I think it's so interesting that Amazon just over talk in March of this year, Google as the number one employer in the US. And if you think about, I suppose what we traditionally associate with the beanbags and the rock climbing walls in the interiors. And if you think about Amazon has come and said, "We just believe in basic desks and we're hugely customer centric." And they have different values, they have a different focus in terms of that aesthetic. So I think it's really interesting that you're seeing that change and you're seeing people effectively seeing through it, to get to cut to the chase, in terms of what the rules and the atmosphere and the culture is actually like.

Paul: Yes, and you talked about self selection and if you can get as much of your brand out there or what it's like to work somewhere and people do self select. I think the importance of that has increased over time. So when I started in recruitment it was we'd have an eighth page out in the Irish Times on a Thursday or a quarter page if it was an exclusive. But the value in a recruiter was, I have contacts that you don't. For both sides, for candidates, I could introduce you to companies and for a client I've a pool of candidates like something did. It's just changed all of that, so now everyone is a lot busier in response to applications, et cetera, et cetera. Whereas if you have more content out there that shows what it's really like to work somewhere, chances are you increase your number of people who are actually engaged in your brand they're very, very engaged at the very start you can then follow that through.

Niamh O'Connor: Yes. And that's where the savings come from. You're not interviewing people who are not fit for the role. You're more likely you're increasing effectively as you're increasing around the recruitment process. So it's better for everyone. You're saving time, cost. It's better from a recruiter perspective as well because the candidates are hopefully more engaged and further down the line in terms of committing to it. That's great. Yes.

Other Examples Of Successful Employer Branding

Laura: I think you've covered it a little bit, but any other examples of where branding worked really well? And actually some that didn't?

Niamh O'Connor: Okay. Always there's the interesting side of it. I think, I suppose for me, it's back to what we talked about with authenticity. Every organization that we walk into is different. They may not think they're different, but they are different. The culture and the environment is different. It's actually, I suppose, brands that are doing probably from an Ireland perspective, Or if someone else here is Irish, Irish brand.

Niamh O'Connor: So I think Boojum do a good job. They know who they are and they know who they aren't. They're very... how they are online is how they are when you interact with them. I think Voxpro did a good job for example, they're likewise, "This is who we are and this is how we work." So I think staying true to what's truly different is really the key of it. And brands who do that, do for success as you talked about Netflix. So knowing and taking the time to actually properly evaluate, get your brand. Okay? Look at it via competitor brand and really stand back to say like why are we different? This is how we are aligned where really if we look at the entirety for operations, why are we different? The entirety of our culture.

Niamh O'Connor: And brands who don't do well, I would say just brands who don't do probably, who just don't have... you already have a brand out there. And I think that's the misconception here is that this is something new or I have to spend money on it. I think you already have a brand, you have it by not having a career site, you have it by your last store rating. So I think it's probably, that's where I would see that the probably missed opportunity for a brand is about and then I think, getting the balance right between creative and business. Okay? Because I do think then you have the other extreme where it's a really creative campaign and after watching it, it's really engaging, but I still don't know what the organization does. So I think you're looking at content and I suppose creating those core assets first and then actually bringing in, I suppose the exciting or the more creative side of it.

Where To Start With Your Employer Brand?

Paul: And I think in terms of employer branding running against something, I would have seen a big rise in interest in pre-recession. And it feels like it's starting to come back at last or the pace of it as they starting to come back at a last. So if you're an employer listening to this and you're starting to think about employer branding aside from getting in touch with your good selves, what should you be doing or thinking about or what practical practical place to start?

Niamh O'Connor: Yes, I think you all, if you have an HR budget, it's just about thinking about it differently. So I think you can always do something. Okay. Even if you don't have a massive budget, there's still steps that you can take on the journey. Okay? There's still collateral improvement, communication, just for your core collateral. People are going out there recruiting experienced hires and graduate hires. What exactly are the communication? And you can look at those basic or core assets and start to improve them. I think if you're serious about it, I would say the first thing is engaging, it needs to be bottom up and top down. So you have to start with those conversations. I see a lot of brands go, "Oh we're a global and that's a reason." That's not a reason. How many brands can say that?

Niamh O'Connor: We are in 50 locations. Again, how many brands can say that? So we've had some really interesting conversations and challenging conversations. I had executive team was around, you come on you pull up competitor sites and they're safe. So I think it's actually at the discussion around why you're different. Is there really is there is a super place to start with this after that then it's really about, I suppose looking at and bringing it to life is probably how I'd describe it. Because from that then comes, I suppose, what value and what's the deal if I go back to that? And how can we really see that and how can we show people that? And then it's, if you'd like, bringing it to life and being as open as possible, like we talked about before in terms of it. It needs to be absolutely aligned to your overall age or it's about in plan.

Niamh O'Connor: You're probably already doing stuff in the organization that actually it would be fantastic for your employer brand if you communicated it. I think that's the best, when you walk into organizations they already have fantastic, maybe awards, recognition awards, that are linked to their values. So I think sometimes it seems the perception marketing sometimes as something separate. You're already doing a lot of things potentially initiatives, your wellness. It's about stepping back from it and making sure that the message is getting out and it's also actually that you're engaging properly with your team and turning.

Paul: Yes. It can be tough when you're stuck in this, you don't see it sometimes.

Niamh O'Connor: Yes. You don't see the super work that happens and you certainly it might not get internally. It certainly doesn't get externally a lot of the time. And unfortunately, then I come to a career as websites that has the stock photography while all of this really exciting stuff happening internally. So-

Paul: We were only talking about this the other day, the careers website or their landing page where you can't find where to apply for jobs. It just baffles me how this works.

Niamh O'Connor: "Please I want to work with you." Yes, absolutely. No, I think it's a huge opportunity. It's really, really, practical. I think it's not about we're fishing around here, there's lots of practical steps I think that organizations can take that actually help them to get... I think it's about communicating it in a way that it makes sense. Does that make sense? So often we would see organizations and they're talking about, "We need to do something on our employer brand." We need to do something that helps us to get great people on your team if you're working in the organization. So it's actually about, I think, how you engage people internally to get involved and to actually authenticate, be a part of representing the organization.

Paul: So I think internal referrals are probably one of the best sources.

Niamh O'Connor: Such a good example, such a good example.

Paul: But if people aren't engaged, some people don't want to refer people, because people take it really personally.

Niamh O'Connor: Yes. Or if they're asked... if they're out at lunch and they're asked and they're like, "No actually, just, I wouldn't really recommend it." You just don't want to be in that space. So, no really big opportunity I think for everyone.

How To Contact Niamh O'Connor and The Pudding

Laura: Thanks, Niamh, for a really interesting conversation today. How can people get in touch with you or the full thing if they're interested in discussing it further?

Niamh O'Connor: Well, the first thing to say is thanks a million for having me on today guys. I really enjoyed and love what you guys are doing in this space. I think it's so refreshing, to be talking about retention with recruiters. So it was really exciting from that perspective. For me, I'd love to have a chat, you know me, with anyone. So you can contact me at niamh@thepuddinbrand.com or through our website (The Pudding) as well, or obviously through you guys, if you wanted to pick up on any aspects of today.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Andrew Keating on Diversity & Inclusion

Andrew Keating on Diversity & Inclusion

October 23 2019

Building an inclusive business, an inclusive culture, is a challenge.

Our clients are still looking for answers; wanting to know what others are doing; still feeling like whatever has been done, is not enough.

We wanted to do something practical to help our clients do more in this space so we simply posed the question ‘How do we make the Irish financial services and Fintech industries more inclusive and more diverse?”.

Respondents included growing Irish FinTechs, long-established financial services companies, and D&I experts from Ireland and the UK.

In this extract from our Diversity & Inclusion Report, Andrew Keating (former Group Chief Financial Officer and Executive Sponsor of Inclusion & Diversity at Bank of Ireland) shares his insights on this key issue.

Before we begin, here is Paul Smyth's (Top Tier Recruitment) speech launching the Report at a FuSIoN (Financial Services Inclusion Network) event in Dublin.

Paul Smyth Launching The Diversity & Inclusion Report


Andrew Keating (Bank of Ireland) on Diversity & Inclusion

It is a well-known fact that sharing an authentic commitment to inclusion and diversity is imperative for organisations looking to attract, develop and retain the diverse range of talents needed to survive and thrive. It is also a clear differentiator for strengthened decision making and innovation.

As an employer and as a provider of services to our customers and communities, operating in what can at times be seen as a somewhat traditional and conservative financial services industry, it is important that actions start to take place on a more global scale for Financial Service providers including;

1. Seeing is believing

Financial Services as an industry needs to instil trust through transparency. Most organisations still have a way to travel to reach their Inclusion & Diversity ambitions – but rather than hearing nothing, the market should be brought through the journey in reaching these ambitions.

As an industry, we need to strengthen the approach in sharing progress in building a greater diversity of participation at all levels, and particularly at senior management.

At Bank of Ireland, we are working towards a goal for gender parity in senior appointments by the end of 2021 – a goal which we have communicated widely.

We also have a vibrant colleague-led Inclusion & Diversity community, which is the very definition of inclusion in that everybody has an equal voice at the table.

Andrew Keating Quote

2. The future of working flexibly

Appeal to today’s and tomorrow’s talent pool by showcasing Financial Services roles and working environments which are designed with inclusion in mind.

At Bank of Ireland we are focused on transformation as one of our top strategic priorities – which includes modernising our ways of working.

Financial Services organisations need to increase the opportunity of making modern ways of working the norm, to attract and retain the diverse talent that is needed.

3. Expect suppliers to meet your I&D standards 

If the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, then this absolutely applies to the ecosystem of Financial Services.

If all of the interconnected players within our industry understand and drive towards a similar inclusion and diversity philosophy we will reach our shared destination earlier.

At Bank of Ireland, we are focussing on developing supplier diversity standards, to clarify expectations of all of our partners and suppliers in terms of Inclusion and Diversity, as they too have a direct impact on supporting positive change on our Inclusion and Diversity goals.

Diversity and Inclusion Report

Read The Full Diversity & Inclusion Report

Thanks to Andrew for sharing his excellent insights in our Diversity & Inclusion Report.

To download the full document, visit the Diversity & Inclusion Report page.

Need Help?

If you want any help or you are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


How To Hand In Your Resignation

How To Hand In Your Resignation

October 14 2019

Congratulations! You got the job! 

Now, let's look at how to hand in your resignation in the right way.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


How To Hand In Your Resignation Properly

Laura: Today we're going to talk about handing in your notice. You've gone through the full interview process. You've been given the offer, you've accepted it, congratulations on your new job. Paul, what principles or what guide would you give somebody for leaving their current employer?

Paul: Yes, I think there are a few things to keep in mind. You don't want to burn your bridges. I think you want to handle this as diplomatically as you can. And I think really important that it's not, that you're leaving for a negative reason, but that you're moving to something that's positive. And so yes, it's not about leaving somewhere. It's that I really want this role. It's the right role for me. So, just keep those things in mind when you're thinking about handing in your notice.

Laura: Great. And just on the practical advice side, how should somebody go about it? What should they say? How should they do it? Should they email? Should they confront their hiring manager face-to-face? How exactly should they do it?

Paul: Confront is probably a bit of a harsh word.

Laura: Yes, probably a little bit harsh.

Paul: Certainly shouldn't be a confrontation. No. So, my advice to people would always be to do it face-to-face where possible. I think it can be a tricky conversation and one that most people don't enjoy. But, it's one that has to be done. And I think doing things the right way will leave you in a better place, leave your reputation as well in a better place once you do leave. So, certainly face-to-face would be the best way to do it.

Paul: And I would caveat that with if you've made the decision to leave and you're happy with your offer and your new role. While obviously you want to respect your current employer, the employer you're potentially leaving, you do need to bear in mind that you are leaving for a new employer. So, if it's the case, particularly over summer or Christmas or holiday grades, where your direct manager is away for a week or two weeks, extending notice periods by an extra few weeks can sometimes be seen pretty badly by your new employer.

Paul: And so, if your hiring manager isn't there, I think it is best to try to find another way to do it. Either call them if they're available to speak. Or if they're not available to speak, maybe it's a case of speaking with their manager or someone else in the business or someone in HR. Because, getting your notice handed in once everything else is done, the contracts are signed, et cetera, and in a timely manner is really, really important. I think if it does need to be emailed for whatever reason, just bear, try to set your mind around, don't burn your bridges. And make sure it's not felt that it's personal or anything else. And that it's a positive step for you and your career as opposed to leaving for a negative reason.

Laura: Yes, absolutely. In terms of burning your bridges, particularly in Ireland, Dublin is really small. It's a village, isn't it?

Paul: Yes. And I think the other thing is, we did an episode on counter offers. This is obviously where counter offers come up. So I refer you to that episode for sure. But in all of my years in recruitment, I've never really seen a counter offer work out longterm. And so I'm not going to dwell on that at all. But, I think if you're going to have that chat with your manager and go into it with the mindset of "I am accepting this offer and I'm going somewhere else." And your mind is made up. Very often the first thing back is going to be, "Oh, can you leave with me for an hour or two or until tomorrow. Really want you to say et cetera." But, I do think you need to be firm. And once that decision is made, do your very best to stick to it will definitely be my strong advice.

Laura: Yes, exactly. Most of it, nine times out of 10 you'd be just offered a monetary increase in your salary. And if you want to leave somewhere, it's most frequently not just down to salary.

Paul: No, definitely not. And, we've talked about this in earlier episodes, and it comes back to prep and why are you leaving and what are you looking for your next role. If all that stuff is aligning then counter offers should never really be an issue at all. So yes, just be careful with that one.


Laura: Excellent. So, apart from buying yourself a whole new wardrobe for your new role or your new company, what should you do during your notice period?

Paul: I think notice period is really important. Can't remember, I remember one manager I worked for remarked before I left. Not beating myself, well I kind of am beating myself up here. But, she said to me, "Thanks a million for all your hard work during your notice period." And it just made no sense to me at all. It's just, this is what you should do. But, it opened my eyes to a lot of people when they do hand in a notice period can't take the foot off the gas, and it's really tempting because you're kind of one foot out the door or whatever. But remember as you said, Ireland's a small place. It's your reputation at the end of the day.

Paul: So, make sure everything is really well organized. Do you need to create a handover document so everything is seamless? Do you offer to and answer any questions after you've left if there is anything that comes up? I think those things are really, really important. But yes, the main thing is do your role to the best of your ability. It can be harder when you have that kind of one foot out the door. But, it is your reputation longer term at the end of the day. So, just be really careful around that.

Laura: Sure. And when you're leaving, would you advise people to send a farewell email or going for a few pints with their current colleagues?

Paul: Yes, absolutely. Why not? Go for pints. Any excuse. No. But, yes absolutely. You never know where people are going to end up, and you're probably going to be a gap in the team that needs to be filled. And it may not be filled by the time you've left and everything else. So, I think leaving with your reputation intact and all of that stuff is really important. But, there is a social aspect to it. Clearly, if you've done a reasonably long stint in the company, I'm sure you're going to absolutely have a relationship and such built over time. So, 100%.

Laura: Great. Just your key takeaways, Paul.

Paul: Yes, I think just kind of recapping everything we said, don't burn your bridges. Ireland is a small place in particular. Make sure your manager and the company don't think it's about them. It's more about you.

Laura: It's not you, it's me.

Paul: Yes, exactly. But, that it's about your kind of positive progression in terms of your career, et cetera. I would absolutely if you listen to this episode and you're thinking about it starting the job search, have a listen to the rest of the stuff that we've done around starting your job search and how to know when to leave and start looking and all of that. And just make sure everything is aligned and that the role you're accepting is the right role, and you're leaving for the right reasons, et cetera. Do things the right way in terms of face-to-face if you can, but remember that your new employer is going to be depending on you to get in as quick as possible I think.

Paul: What else did we talk about? Yes, during your notice period, get organized. Do that hand over a document, offer support if you think it's needed if it's something that you're going to be able to, if something that you're going to be able to commit to. And then do your best to relax into it and look forward to your new role at the same time. Because it's, we've talked about this all the way through. Interviews are competitive. Job applications are competitive. If you've done all the hard work, you've negotiated your salary, it is something to be really happy about it. So, well done.

Laura: Absolutely. Well done on your new job.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Understanding High Performance - Enda Lynch Of The Munster Rugby High Performance Leadership Programme

Understanding High Performance - Enda Lynch Of The Munster Rugby High Performance Leadership Programme

October 08 2019

Paul recently had a fascinating talk with Enda Lynch, Head of Enterprise at Munster Rugby. 

Enda runs the Munster Rugby, High Performance Leadership Programme business in partnership with the University of Limerick. 

Read on or listen in to learn how to achieve high performance in your career and in your business.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

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The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

About The Munster Rugby High Performance Leadership Programme

Enda Lynch: A number of years ago Munster Rugby realized that we wanted to look at ways in which we weren't reliant on everything that happens on the pitch day to day. We have a phenomenal team and a great brand, but there are times when you need to begin to take a great brand and stretch it in new directions. At the same time, we were moving onto new premises. Our teams had been training in Cork and in Limerick simultaneously and we were moving to a High Performance Center, Munster Rugby's High Performance Center on campus in the University of Limerick and it was the first time our team were going to be in the one place at the one time, all the time.

Enda Lynch: And we realized that by being on campus in the University of Limerick with our own center that we had an opportunity to begin to bring people into our facility and into our environment and allow them to learn a little bit more about how we go about things. And following as anybody does when they're starting a new product, a huge amount of research in the market, we realize that there was a gap for senior leaders who when they started out working, as technology began to develop, you had a fairly good idea of what the end of the month look like at the start of the month.

Enda Lynch: And now because of the pace of which we all work at, if you know what the end of the week or even the end of the day looks like at the start of the day or at the end of the... start of the week, your close on a savant and we are not inherently trained through our youth and through our early teens and into our twenties in how to be resilient to deal with that stress, to deal with that pace.

Enda Lynch: It happens. It is there, but nobody's ever given you former training on it and as a result we have people coming into senior leadership roles and in senior leadership roles and I know of myself, my own experience where at some point you're worried about your leadership style, you're worried about the work output and the load, but you're not thinking about the holistic picture. What is my style of leadership and how is that driving how I manage this? What am I doing to manage myself physically, emotionally, mentally?

Enda Lynch: We're doing it with our players because we have 12 pairs going on the world cup plane to Japan. They are all incredibly resilient, high performing leaders who have to react moment by moment to whatever's happening on the pitch and they have to be resilient enough that when it's a tackle, three seconds later they have to get up and at it again.

Enda Lynch: They score a try, they have to focus and get back at it seconds later. Something may happen off the pitch to them, but they have to be able to switch and focus on what's going on at that moment on the pitch during a major match, a world cup quarterfinal or a semifinal we hope or whatever that is. So we realized that we had the skills and we had been working on this for a number of years and we were able to work with the University of Limerick on creating an opportunity for senior leaders to learn how we do it and what's best in thinking and in theory, bring the two together into a real-life program and that's how the high performance leadership program came about.

Paul Smyth: Great. I mean, you sent me on a deck actually and it talks about the people in UL. Can you give me just a bit of insight into what their involvement is and the different backgrounds briefly that you have?

Munster Rugby High Performance Leadership

Enda Lynch: There's quite a number of people and the program is unique in that regard in that we have most probably one or two individuals leading each. We have eight individuals upfront and then two in the background who support the program. I'll give you an example, Dr. Patrick Ryan who is the head of the psychology department at the University of Limerick and a leading clinical psychologist. You have Dr. Katherine Norton who is a lead nutritionist in the sports science department at the University of Limerick. And Dr. Catherine previously was Munster Rugby's nutritionist, performance nutritionist before she went to the University of Limerick.

Enda Lynch: You have Dr. Brian Carson and Dr. Mark Lyons who run a number of degrees and postgraduate programs on human performance in sport and human performance in general through the sports science department. You have professor John Fahy, John is a lecturer in management to marketing in the University of Limerick in the Irish Management Institute and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Adelaide.

Enda Lynch: The thing about all these great individuals is they are highly qualified, but they are also working a huge amount in the business, and sorry in the workplace and across businesses. So they know the theory, but they're also able to relate that back to experiences with senior leaders very, very quickly.

Enda Lynch: And that's why we selected and worked with them. And that's why the university selected these individuals because they can relate to industry and yet they can bring the theory and the knowledge and deliver it in such a way that you are empowered to know 6, 12, 18 months down the road, why is it that these changes were recommended in my life and why were these things look that, rather than three months, "Hang on, why didn't they tell me that? I can't remember". And that's the skill that they have and that's why we work with them. 

Paul Smyth: I think I mentioned I was in school with Brian. And the thing that's really interesting for me on something that I've only started to pick up on myself and through a coaching qualification that I did recently is that holistic aspect to management and on leadership. And I think the one thing I've noticed that people seem to forget about particularly these days is you're so focused on running your own business or leading a team or whatever it is that you don't focus on yourself and, but by focusing on yourself it actually gives you more opportunity to be that effective leader, to grow that business or to push your Irish operation forward.

Enda Lynch: Yeah. And I think that we do a little bit on the program and I've done in my own life to be honest with you, the wheel of life. There are 168 hours in a week and if you divide up that [inaudible 00:06:52], how many of our quadrants of the types of activity that you do in your life, working, sleeping, family, travel, commute, all those things and then you put in how much time do you spend on yourself. Usually, it's the least. It might get an hour or two a week. Most of the time, even supporting your... if you have kids or you're involved with a community project or anything like that. If life stretches that way for you, you're putting more time into those things than for yourself. And what we ask people to look at is, it's not that you don't have time, you have time. It's what are you doing with that time.

Enda Lynch: So you can exercise. You don't need to go for a three-hour cycle on a Saturday if that's your thing, fantastic. But if all you want to get out is, I want to be healthier. I want to be fitter. I don't want to be sick as often as I was. I want to shed a couple of pounds because I know it's impacting on my ability to have energy going forward through the day. All those types of things. 20, 25 minutes of a workout, three times, four times a week, five if you're lucky, maybe it means you go to bed 20 minutes earlier at night and you get up 20 minutes earlier in the morning. There are small steps you can make, but most people don't view it because they don't ask themselves, what time do I need for myself? Because if the engine isn't running then sure as hell, the work that's coming out at the far side isn't going to be optimal.

Enda Lynch: And you could push 80 hours in a week, but are all 80 really optimizing your time? Are you really getting the best results out of those 80 hours or if you did 55 to 60 hours and put even three or four hours into yourself? All the evidence is there. You will produce the same output, the same work, have better conversations, your mind will be clearer. You'll look after, all of the things we look after, like fueling yourself before you have a major pitch or a meeting or you're going to your investors or you're going for another investment round meeting, or you're meeting Enterprise Ireland. Did you ever stop and went, "Am I ready to go into this? Have I had enough food? Have I fueled myself?", because fuel in, energy out.

Enda Lynch: So if you turn up, I had a coffee at seven o'clock this morning, it's three o'clock in the afternoon and you're in East Point Business Park with Enterprise Ireland. I don't think that meeting's going to go as well as you want it to. But most people don't think that because I'm in charge, I'm running. This is life, this is hectic, but it's okay. I'm going to get there and I collapse at the end of the day.

Enda Lynch: But you're not going to get the results. Like you've said, most people are focused on the results. But the results come from a holistic view of how you are performing.


Paul Smyth: And that's really the thing for me that if your ultimate goal is to build and sell a business or grow as an employee in Ireland, that's fine for that to be your goal. But you do need to look at the other aspects that you don't necessarily prioritize at the minute.

Enda Lynch: Correct. And somebody constantly reminds me, Ireland is a small rock next to another rock on the edge of a massive continent. And when you're setting up, if your ambition is Ireland, you still have to be looking outside of Ireland and think, how am I going to grow? Where am I learning from? And that takes a huge amount of energy as much as time. But if you are not prepared then even your focus on, "I'm focused on Ireland", that's okay. But if you are not focused on yourself, then you're not going to be able to focus on a country.

Enda Lynch: And an entire market because somewhere along the line you're not putting the right time into the right areas that will get you that result.

Paul Smyth: So in terms of the high performance leadership program, who's your target audience or what's your typical students for want of a better term?

Enda Lynch: Very good question. And I'll answer in two parts. Being a typical carrier man, we never answer in one part. The typical audience is anybody at a senior level. Now we'll define that in two ways. One, anybody who, you don't even have to have an interest in rugby. We've had people who've run plants in Poland and the UK and further afield who have no interest in rugby and they've got as much out of it as anyone else. So that's one thing.

Enda Lynch: The second thing is, and by the way, Jerry Flannery does a phenomenal session with us, even though Jerry's no longer a part of the Munster coaching team. Jerry has a number of other businesses and is a very strong leader in his own right and has learned pretty much how we set things out, Jerry is living the values that we talk about and he does an incredibly powerful session on learning to be a leader as you grow businesses and taking from sport into the workplace and the values that he takes from one to the other.

Enda Lynch: You don't need to have any rugby knowledge at all. After that it's... the program is designed for somebody who is in C-suite, so CEO or somebody reporting to CEO or you've identified through your succession planning that somebody is about to make that jump over the next 12 months. And it's about to go from a couple of late nights a year into, life is very different now. Life is going to put an awful lot more pressure on you and you're going to have to respond in different ways and you're going to be traveling and all that. That's that level.

Enda Lynch: Or to an awful lot of your listeners on the podcast, somebody who's building and growing a business who has never actually stood back for five minutes and went, what have I achieved and am I fit for the next stage. And I don't just mean fit, I can run a lap of the pitch.

Enda Lynch: It's am I physically, emotionally, mentally, and as a leader to take the neck, take the business into the next stage. I'm 10 years on the goal, the business has grown, I've come to my investment rounds, but if I want to go again, or even if I'm ready to sell it, am I actually ready to go through the stress of that. And the answer generally is no, you've got to put everything into growing the business. So they're the types of individuals generally that will come on the program.

Paul Smyth: Yeah, and I suppose a lot of the episodes we've had on the podcast so far, have probably been aimed at that kind of junior or mid-tier level, but I suppose I specialize a little bit more in the senior leadership on the executive side of things. And so, a lot of what I see is how do you demonstrate that extra X-factor almost if you're looking at taking on a country manager role for a new Brexit firm that's starting up in Ireland or you're moving into a global head of fund management role or something along those lines. It's that extra one or two percent that you're always looking for.

Enda Lynch: Absolutely. And if you're taking on a global role or you're taking on a more senior role, you might have had five reported to you, suddenly you'll move onto 20. And you'll have PNL of 35 million underneath you. There's a big jump in the time you're going to put in, in the stress. And for most people in Ireland who make those jumps in the travel because it's a go back Ireland, it's a little rock next to another little rock.

Enda Lynch: And the further on you go and earn today and in any, in most businesses you are bound to at some point be traveling and are you looking after yourself when you're... you might be going to a funding round in Chicago and New York, San Francisco. You might be going to the parent company in Berlin or in Munich or whatever. How do you apply the same principles so that when you arrive over there, you're fit for purpose, "Oh well, you know I had a lovely ham sandwich at six o'clock with a little toast on the earliest flight across Europe".

Enda Lynch: Okay, but is that exactly the fuel you need for your funding round pitch at 10 o'clock that morning, or how are you looking after yourself close, and it's not just the physical. It's as a leader, most people who grow into senior roles, have never... there's a thing we talk about quite a lot in the program. We actually bring a guest CEO in for every program and we've had the likes of Anne O'Leary, CEO of Vodafone, that type, Margot Slattery, president of Sodexo who's just become their chief diversity officer globally. That type of individual, every single one of them spoke about becoming very self-aware.

Enda Lynch: And the best leaders are self-aware, but how many people who are growing into leadership are self-aware of their limits, of their style of leadership, what impact that has on their family, on their community, on their workplace, and we actually do a lot of testing before you come on our program to ask you these questions and to ask your family, your community, and your workplace, what sort of leadership does Joe or Mary or anybody have? How does that impact you?

Enda Lynch: And you have to be very self-aware to go, this is feedback that I'm getting that will help me realize that my style of leadership is X. I might be a follower, I might be the Sergeant Major who barks out orders, whatever it is, but once you realize that it begins to open up the challenges that that brings and how you better communicate, how you better manage your people, your time, your life, your style to get better results. And most people don't actually do that and we're going, "You have". The further up you go, you have to be self-aware and ask. "How am I developing and how do I develop myself a leadership?"


Paul Smyth: Yeah. And actually, I think your self-awareness for sure, but it's also how does that style of leadership, how does that impact people? How does that land with people, how is my communication style? Is that working? And being aware of what's around you as well is equally as important I think.

Enda Lynch: Yeah, but we're all, most of us who've been in organizations, or if you're in a start-up, you have to do this yourself, but if you're in a multinational or large organization, at some point most of us have been fortunate to do a 360, but 360s are generally based around peer-to-peer and super easier to reporting and that's fine, but that's only one pillar of your life. And the problem we go on, as I said, your family, kids from the age of 10, your brother, your sister, your partner, your mom, your dad, whoever could go online and do the survey with you are for... to respond back.

Enda Lynch: Generally it's the impact that your style of leadership has on other parts of your life is very much hidden and you don't realize it. "No, no. My partner at home looks after the budget looks after the kids and the whole lot". Then when you up and go, "What do you think of this? What do you think of that?", and if you're not thinking about how am I responding to them as a leader, then you're not seeing how that influences the dynamics of all parts of your life. So you've got to look at it again, you and I've said this word a few times now, holistically. It's not just in work. This is about holistic life performance that ultimately does impact on the bottom line in your office.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. It's funny, it just resonates with me. I think I mentioned we launched a coaching business possible [inaudible 00:18:02] there recently. And a lot of the work I've done through that and even during my own training as a coach, it ends up quite fundamental. And these are kind of base levels that you're working with and all of a sudden you start to knit it all together and choose to do that and work and actually you'll do that at home as well. Just maybe a slightly different lens and I didn't see it before. So, yeah. Really interesting.

Paul Smyth: In terms of people coming on the course, what can they expect or what should they be prepared for?

Enda Lynch: That's a good question. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty for a second. A couple of things there. They have to come with an open mind because within the... in the lead up to the program we do, as I mentioned, the Life360 on that style of leadership. We do a psychological review that they undertake just themselves that then Dr. Patrick assesses with them. When you come on the program, you have one to one time with Dr. Patrick. Your 360 is assessed with you in a one to one with Dr. Nuala Ryan or the support to Cooke is our HR director.

Enda Lynch: They're both practicing specialist in organizational behavior. And they'll take you through a one to one what your 360 is actually saying about you. So physically, or sorry, emotionally and mentally and as a leader we've begun to break down the base scores around the particular life.

Enda Lynch: And then when you come to the program, we do about two hours of the physical test programs. So your bloods are taken, your body scan. We do a very simple fitness test called the Cooper test, which is a 12 minute run around an indoor track in UL. How far can you go in five minutes if you've never run, that's no problem, you can walk. If you have problems with your knees, okay we'll get a bike.

Enda Lynch: There are ways in which we check it, but eventually within two hours of arriving in the program, physically, emotionally, mentally, and as a leader, we've presented you with what everyone and your own body's telling you about your performance. And then we spend the next few days, 25% looking at energy, which is a lot of it is around your nutrition and your mental energy, emotionally through Patrick Ryan and understanding stress in the workplace and how you manage your psychological performance in the workplace and the weaknesses that are inherent in all of us and how we recognize those.

Enda Lynch: We spend 25% of the time on understanding that exercise is medicine. Exercise is fundamental to a strong person and a strong performance and this can be very simple. I myself, I used to run, I did up to a marathon, but I was always overweight, it was never working for me. Then I've through this program learned, 20 minutes with my own body weight, three times a week and suddenly everything began to happen for me and I began to feel a lot fresher and fit and all that stuff.

Enda Lynch: Very simple things around the physical side and then the last 25% is on Authentic Leadership. What is your style? How do you recognize it? How do you recognize the challenges that brings? What does that sound like coming from the CEO, from the charity, and from others? We divide up the next two and a quarter days looking at each of those four pillars, fitness to perform, personal balance and alignment, energy management and authentic leadership. Knowing the scores that you have from all those areas we've tested to give back to you to go, this is where you are. How can we help? So that's what the two and a half days are about.

Paul Smyth: Great. And in terms to go out south, it's run in Cork, isn't it?

Enda Lynch: Limerick in our High Performance Center in Limerick.

Paul Smyth: Oh, Limerick. Sorry. I thought it was Cork.

Enda Lynch: No. At the University of Limerick's campus, we have our high-performance centers as I mentioned earlier. And your a resident and you're by the Castletroy Hotel and you're with us for two and a half days. And we always run Wednesday to Friday. And we will always get you home to those or most important who are the people who gave you feedback that you weren't expecting, which is your family and friends. So we get you home on Friday night in time to settle in with them before you go back to work on Monday.

Paul Smyth: Before I let you go, what are your thoughts on the Rugby World Cup?

Enda Lynch: I'm really looking forward to it. I think Joel Schmidt has created an environment in Irish Rugby where we have accelerated our ability to perform far beyond where we ever were and we're thrilled here at Munster that we have 12 of our colleagues heading across the most we've ever had. The last time it was 20 or seven, when we also had 12 and you've got to remember then we were winning European cups and all that.

Enda Lynch: So it's testament to the squad that we have 12 going. So we're excited, it is cool. One way or the other, if we get out of our group, there is a very strong chance it's New Zealand or South Africa and that in itself is a World Cup Final. Both Joel, we'll have them ready and I think the camp in Portugal and the warm weather training, people don't seem to remember that Japan would be somewhere in the region of about 27 degrees and 90% humidity in most of the time of playing a game.

Enda Lynch: The ability for guys to play in that heat and the weather will be of vital importance. And I think he has them in the best shape, he's made some horrifically hard calls without naming one player over another. There are some really hard calls, but a guy who can make those calls shows somebody who's just prepared to make decisions that need to be made to get the best performance when we get there and he's proven it time and again that he knows the answers better than anyone here.

Paul Smyth: Great. And I really think it's a really interesting program that you run genuinely.

Enda Lynch: Thank you.

How To Contact Enda Lynch & The Munster Rugby High Performance Leadership Programme

You can email Enda at endalynch@munsterrugby.ie or go onto the Munster Rugby, High Performance Leadership Programme website.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


How To Handle An Unsuccessful Job Application

How To Handle An Unsuccessful Job Application

October 02 2019

It can be really disheartening when you're unsuccessful in your job application.

What should you do?

Read on (or listen in) as Laura and Paul help you through this difficult time . . .

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


How To Handle An Unsuccessful Job Application

Imagine this situation, somebody has done their shortlist of companies that they'd like to work for. They've done up their CV, they've made an application and they don't get called for an interview - what should they do?

Paul: The reality of it is that most people who apply, assuming it's a standard enough role, won't get called for interview. I think a lot of people, particularly in today's market think that because we're at relatively low unemployment, or effectively none, no unemployment in financial services and FinTech that if they answer an application they're going to get called, but you can't be complacent about it. Good roles that you're interested in are going to interest other people as well.

Paul: So ultimately, it doesn't just come down to your perspective of your fit against the role, it's also down to your competition. It could be people internally, it could be people externally. And so I think the advice would be one, don't take it personally, it's not personal, obviously. And secondly, have a look cast the spec or the job [inaudible 00:01:26]. Critically look at your CV, see if you feel there are any gaps. And be, I suppose, honest with yourself around it, you need to recognize where there are gaps, and maybe there's an opportunity for development there or improvement there.

Paul: If you really feel that you have all the skills on paper and you should have been called for an interview, absolutely follow up. If you can identify who the hiring manager is or who the HR person is within an organization, if you're applying directly, it is no harm to follow up. And I think one of the biggest things that I see in terms of frustrations for candidates is people who sometimes feel that they should get an interview or have transferable skills. I think it's really, really important. And I'm sure we talked about this when we talked about how to prepare your CV in your LinkedIn profile, that you really highlight those transferable skills, make them really obvious as less work as possible for the person reviewing your CV is really, really important. So yeah, don't take it personally and look critically at your CV.

Laura: Absolutely. And yes, there is an abundance of jobs out there, but for the really interesting ones, it is competitive.

Paul: Yeah, always.

Laura: So suppose then somebody gets called to interview and they were unsuccessful, how do you think they should respond?

Paul: It's probably a little bit tougher after the interview because you've invested a bit of time into it and you're a little bit more probably engaged in the process. You would have done your research that again, we talked about in the episode. So it can be a little bit harder. But I think it's similar to the job application though. So it's not just about how you perform, it's how you perform in comparison to others. Sometimes it can be very, very, very fine margins that it comes down to. We'd see it across the board at junior to senior levels. It can literally be a case of an employer worked with someone who worked with someone in the past, it could be a particularly closely related company. It could be anything along those lines. It could even come down to just a system that you've used in the past that is particularly relevant.

Paul: So yeah, again, don't take personally, it can be really fine margins. It is a case of comparison against other people. It may be something completely outside of your control.

Paul: I think, look for as much feedback as you can get. I think clients that we work with, in the main, are good at giving some feedback anyway, we normally get something. It's never going to be massively detailed, but do look for feedback and again, like the CV, look at it critically, where did you fall down, what could you do next time? What the learning that you can take from not getting that particular role?

Laura: Going through a whole interview process, it's hard. It is hard. If you go through the full process and you're not successful how do people keep their morale or their motivation?

Paul: I think it comes back to when we talked about preparing for the job search and understanding what you want and having that clear goal and expectation. I think if you have that it can be tougher when you are rejected from that role that you really wanted or that company that you really wanted. But I think it's try to look at the positives, try to take the learning from being rejected after an interview or coming a close second. I think, obviously try to improve for your next interview or to plug any gaps, but be realistic again that it can come down as I said, to very, very fine margins. So don't, don't take it too critically.

Paul: The other one is if you have come close and the feedback is that it was a particular skill or a particular technology I suppose that swung it for someone else, then you've made a really good connection there. So make sure that you keep up those connections that you have, it's a chance to build your network. It's a chance to stay in touch with someone in the company that you want to work with. It's all of those things.

Paul: So just try to take the positives out of it I suppose. There is always going to be another opportunity. It may seem like the worst thing in the world, but if you do keep up all your steps that we've talked about previously in terms of building your network and having all the alerts set up in terms of jobs and all of that side, then you definitely will find another role and then it's as I said, how to take those opportunities and how do you learn from them?

Key Takeaways

Paul: There are a few different things that we've talked about already. There is the learning that you will have had from when you've been rejected or had knocks. You were talking about our industry, we learn more from when a CV is rejected than we do from when it is accepted. So there's definitely learning there. You've started to build your network and that's certainly a positive. It's a good opportunity if you do get good feedback to focus on a particular aspect of learning.

Is there a course that you could do? Is there anything online that you could look at?

Sometimes it can be a case of profile depending on the particular type of role. Is there an opportunity to maybe start a blog from it? I think practice interviews really, really important as well, we talked about that again in a previous podcast.

Paul: There are other opportunities out there for things like coaching, career coaching, interview coaching. Loads of different things that you can take away from it. It doesn't have to be the end of the world!

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Employee Retention - Pedro Angulo On How To Retain Key Talent

Employee Retention - Pedro Angulo On How To Retain Key Talent

September 29 2019

We've kindly been joined by industry expert Pedro Angulo to share his advice and insights with you on how to retain staff in the Irish financial services & Fintech industries.

About Pedro Angulo

Pedro is the Head of Leadership Development at AIB which is one of Ireland’s major retail banks serving over 1.8m million personal, business and corporate customers. AIB offer a range of banking products and services such as mortgages, savings and business banking.

Pedro is also the Programme Director at the Irish Management Institute. Founded by business leaders for business leaders, the Irish Management Institute has been empowering world-class executives for over sixty years.

We're delighted that Pedro could contribute his thoughts and expertise to our recently published Employee Retention Guide.

Employee Retention Guide

Over to Pedro . . .

Pedro Angulo On How To Retain Key Talent

There’s a recurring theme I notice when working with different leadership teams that seek to retain and develop great talent – they’re all so short on time.

Every day, every hour, whether we’re in the office or at home, we are bombarded with email, Facebook messages, Instagram updates, Tweets, WhatsApps, LinkedIn messages, and more. 

We are always busy but to what end?

In many ways, we’ve become a busy society, not a purposeful society. 

This is a problem.

People are so time-poor that there is little space for reflection. 

Reflection is crucial for people who want to develop themselves and their organisations. Jeff Weiner, CEO at LinkedIn, supposedly blocks between 90 minutes and two hours every day for reflection and describes reflection as “the single most important productivity tool” he uses.

Reflection, however, requires time and space to think (slowly and deliberately) but in today’s fast-moving society, there tends to be very little patience for this approach.

We want to get things done faster and quicker all the time. Fast action gives us the feeling that good progress is being made. The challenge is that this “short-term” approach doesn’t always deliver the required results or the required results the right way. 

As leader, you have so many stakeholders to manage and you’re supposed to get them all on board quickly as you enact rapid change. You are likely expected to be successful in your change efforts straight away.

Short-termism, the shortage of time, and the expectations of rapid change all combine to produce high levels of stress which can work against proper organisational change and resilience. 

It can also cultivate bad leaders and leadership practices. 

Bad leaders can potentially be worse than tobacco. They nit-pick and micromanage, destroy team trust, create stress in teams, and they don’t provide proper guidance or support to team members – this can destroy any company’s well-intentioned employee retention efforts. After all, what kind of talented high-performing employee wants to stick around in that kind of negative environment?

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom!

It can be helpful to start with the end in mind. Let’s begin by envisaging what good leaders look like and how they can encourage good people to stay.

When you work for an excellent leader, you feel valued and energised - it's a magical thing.

Good leaders make you feel safe. They make you believe that your contributions matter. Good leaders enthuse you to put in that extra effort, not because you have to, but because you want to.

Much of this safety and confidence comes from leaders providing space, time, support for self-reflection, development, and change.

Good leaders know when to take a high-level view and when to dive into the detail. They understand that the more frequent your deep dives, the less of the big picture you can see. They have the right people in the levels below so that the team and the wider organisation is able to resolve challenges in an effective way without the leader as a bottleneck. 

Good leaders naturally work to remove bottlenecks. Many of our workplace structures, norms and practices were created in the 1970s but times have changed. We are now hearing a lot more about ‘agile work’ which is crucial for leaders guiding tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people – leaders need to understand business activities but they don’t have time to get stuck on the minutiae. 

Employee retention

Avoiding the minutiae is all about making a successful transition from the technical ‘doing’ work to the ‘leading’ work; from short-term to long-term thinking; from transactional to transformational leadership.

‘Doing’ is doing the technical work - selling something, checking proposals, going to conferences, and other such activities. In contrast, ‘leadership’ features listening to people, understanding people, walking the floor, and other actions that facilitate learning and culture. Also, the more senior the role, the more ‘enterprise thinking’ is required. Enterprise thinking is more strategic, more enterprise-focused than team leadership.

Good leaders add some other elements to the mix. They lead with more than tasks and jobs – they lead with purpose, clarity, and conviction. They also understand that this purpose, clarity, and conviction are better communicated in a humble and authentic way which includes being open to admitting mistakes. A humble, self-confident approach builds trust and belief which bring people along through personal power, not by relying on the power of the position which only brings compliance. Personal power brings empowerment and commitment. 

A good way to embed this leadership style is to include employees in decision-making and empower them to take action. Experiment all the time in an agile fashion with lots of small tests, experiments, pilots, and proofs of concept, followed by rapid scale-up into national or global products and markets.

Microsoft is a great example of a company that has purposefully and successfully transitioned to a mindful, more humanistic leadership style and culture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took the reins about five years ago, and in that time he's credited with making the company cool again. Since his watch began in February 2014, Microsoft Corp’s market value has gone up by more than 203% vaulting on April 25 above the $1 trillion mark pulling ahead of Apple Inc and making it the most valuable U.S. publicly traded company. According to Nadella a large part of the organisation’s success is based on encouraging a growth mindset. Leaders with growth mindsets embraces feedback and challenges as opportunities to grow, find lessons and inspiration in the success of others, look at the bigger picture, challenge the status quo, see effort as the path to mastery, and are continuously curious and learning.

Employee retention begins with leadership.

If you are a leader, ask yourself how much time do you spend doing, not leading? Do you have the right balance?

How well are you modelling the behaviours that set the tone for your organisation? 

Much more than any Mission Statement, employees observe leaders’ behaviours to evaluate what is important and what is just faceless ‘corporate policy’. Remember though, people can smell the ‘fragrance’ of corporate slogans from a mile away. Authenticity is everything. It is very demotivating to employees (and harmful to employee retention efforts) when leaders say one thing but do another. In contrast, as we noted earlier, when you work for an excellent leader, you feel valued and energised - it's a magical thing.

Leaders’ behaviour creates and changes workplace culture . . . for better or worse.

Pedro quote


Read The Employee Retention Guide

Thanks to Pedro for sharing his excellent insights in our Employee Retention Guide.

To download the full document, visit the Employee Retention Guide page.

Need Help?

If you want any help or you are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


How To Create A Great Place To Work [Interview With Fania Stoney]

How To Create A Great Place To Work [Interview With Fania Stoney]

September 25 2019

We had a fascinating conversation about employee engagement (and a lot more) with Fania Stoney of Great Place To Work on a recent episode of the Your Pursuit of Happiness podcast.

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

Fania's Background

Fania Stoney: I'm a consultant with Great Place to Work, going into my fourth year with them at this stage. So actually, I suppose my own trajectory with the business gives you a sense of what it is that we do. So when an organization gets involved with a Great Place to Work, there are two elements to what we do. The first is we survey all employees and we get kind of a range of data from that. Then the second piece of what we do is an organization puts in what's called a culture audit. So it's based around nine practice areas, how you hire, how you communicate, how you recognize, there's a whole range of things in there. When I started with a Great Place to Work, I was part of the culture team that assessed those documents. So I was getting culture audits in from a range of industry, range of size, that whole piece, and going through those and assessing them as part of their submission.

Fania Stoney: Then the role itself has kind of expanded out now, that it's a full consultancy led piece. So I'll be going back in, delivering an overall results session to an organization, giving them a sense of their data, and what their practices are. Benchmark them against other industry, an example of best practice, that kind of piece. Then spring boarding that into action planning and driving change within the organization.

Paul Smyth: Okay, so you did well here, not so well here. This is what you could do, that type of thing.

Fania Stoney: Yes, exactly. So here's an idea of your relative strengths. This is where you're ahead of your own industry or organizations of your size, and here are some relative opportunities for you too. So it might be worth investing in your career path mapping, or there's a bit of a sense of where people not kicking in with a strategy, how can we help you make that more explicit?

Fania Stoney: Actually, depending on how much slicing and dicing that organization has done with the data, we can say things like, actually it's the managers of your marketing department who are really feeling the pinch. How can we help you help them?

Paul Smyth: So you get really specific?

Fania Stoney: Yes, and it depends on what's going to be useful for the organization. You know, if you've got 20 people, there's only so much of that you can do and we have to protect people's confidentiality in it too. But if you're in a bigger setting, if you take big retail where there are thousands of people, we can get a sense of, okay, well here's a couple of high performing stores, what can we learn from them? What learnings can we translate across the kind of employee experience?

Paul Smyth: Do Great Place to Work, do you guys work on improving the scores, for example? Do you work with partners? How does that all work?

Fania Stoney: So there's kind of, it's very ... So an organization often asks us that at the start. So, you know, when we get our results back, what do we do at that point? It's almost impossible for us to tell them that until we've actually seen their data, right? For some it's, you're there, you're going to be recognized, congratulations, you've got a great trajectory going, continue on that path. For some it's, you're almost there. You could do with a bit of specific workaround X, Y, and Z, but also, how can we help you learn from our wider network? So actually we know guys who are doing performance management really well, performance management has turned up to be a bit of a pain area for you guys, let's put you in touch, have a chat, and kind of figure that out from thereon. So there's kind of that dual access I suppose.

Paul Smyth: Very good. Obviously, we connected with the employee engagement guides that we're releasing today. Or has been released, depending on when you hear the podcast.

Fania Stoney: Depends when it goes, yes.

Great Place To Work Quote

Paul Smyth: So within that you kind of shared three specific things, or three findings. I wonder, could you talk us through those, please?

Fania Stoney: Yes, absolutely. So one of the big areas for us, and we're seeing it as a growing area in both the culture audit and the data, is around career and development. So people really wanting to understand what that means. The slight terror around the future of work and what's that going to mean. My role won't exist in five years, and how can we kind of co-create that together.

Paul Smyth: The robots are coming.

Fania Stoney: Yes, literally, you know? So there's kind of three things that we're seeing that some organizations are doing really well in this space. So the first is those who are finding that sweet spot between I have enough work that I'm sufficiently challenged and up for it, but not so much work I'm overwhelmed. They've really managed to bridge that experience for employees. I suppose having a bit of accountability and co-ownership in there too. So people being able to say, it's too much, or bring it on, I really enjoy that how can I keep doing or going in this trajectory?

Fania Stoney: The second is generally people join organizations, but they leave managers. So managers are critical to the employee experience of an organization. We've all had experience of it. You know, we've had that experience of a great manager who knows how to recognize me, gets how I work, knows how to challenge me, knows how to stretch me, that kind of piece. Or I could also turn and say, okay enough, or do you know what, I actually need to go pick up the kids today. Is that all right? And he, you know, he'll allow that to happen, or he or she would allow that to happen. And we've had the flip. So when you don't have a great relationship with your manager when it's not clear for that manager how that consistent behavior can be applied, it generally turns into a pretty low trust, first of all for us, but then also non-enjoyable employee experience.

Fania Stoney: So while somebody may be really committed to their work and really committed to the organization, their experience of their manager isn't great, and that's why they leave. So it's kind of a specific piece. And the managers who are doing stuff really well, again, going back to that career and development piece are co-creating the career trajectory of their employees. So having that chat, keeping it regular, it's not a one-year performance development review process where we have to tick nine boxes and put you in a matrix, and that kind of piece. It's 20 minutes, every month. What's going well? What's not working well? How can I help you and what does support look like? How are we going to keep you moving on in this place?

Fania Stoney: The final one is around, in the literature it's called the EVP. So the Employee Value Proposition. This is the communication to everybody what it means to be working here, what our culture means, but also what are all the practices? What's our promise to you as any given employee? Organizations who are doing this really well, communicating that really well, are getting really good buy in from employees. They're unlocking that level of discretionary effort that people know, okay, if I give myself over, this is the benefit for me within this. I can see where the organization is going, I can see what's an offer to me, and I can see where I fit into that. So, I suppose, they were the three main pieces that we're kind of seeing in that career and development space.

Paul Smyth: The EVP one, actually I think Niamh from The Pudding talks about that in the guide as well. Some of them are very strong and that needs to be very authentic.

Fania Stoney: Absolutely.

Paul Smyth: And real, and not just words on the wall.


Fania Stoney: And you know, people often come to us and go, what's the copy and paste here guys? What's the secret sauce? And it doesn't work that way. People don't buy it, it's not authentic. And it depends on your environment. So if you're a heavily driven sales culture, certain things are going to work for you that aren't going to work for an R and D lab in pharma. So you can't play with it that way. Actually I suppose on that one, we were doing a bit of work with the pharma, and they were looking at flexi work. Because flexitime has become one of those big driving forces in the market, that kind of piece. Their lab guys are kind of saying we'd like a bit of flexitime, but we can't really bring the lab home. So what's the, you know, you can't work from home because of what's going on, but what's the equitable offering? So is it that we get a decent level of shift work going on, or how does that work for you that's an equitable experience to the guys who are in the office who are able to avail of flexitime. So that's the authentic piece. It makes sense for the employees and the environment, and it makes sense for the organization overall.

Paul Smyth: I guess that all can change potentially as companies grow, and move from small to medium to large, they're the categories you use aren't they?

Fania Stoney: Yes, so depending on the size of the workplace, the nature of the work. What we would also see is, and I suppose this is why it's core to our model, is it comes down to how trusting the environment is. So trust is core to the Great Place to Work model, and if you try and implement flexitime in a low trust environment, people are going, "Dave's not at as desk, he's definitely not getting the work done." We can guarantee that. In a high trust environment, "We haven't seen Dave for four weeks, we'd better check-in, make sure he's getting on all right." It's just a different type of conversation that you're having.

Paul Smyth: That can be a real shift. Like when you introduce flexitime, or work from home, or whatever, we did it ourselves pretty much when we started the business. Consultants have the opportunity to work from home and everyone's on ... and it's not a case of, shit, they aren't here at 10 o'clock or whatever. It's mostly working from home today, but it's hard to-

Fania Stoney: Get that balance.

Paul Smyth: It's even hard to make that mindset shift, you need that trust and you need that ... it's a different way of managing now.

Fania Stoney: We would, you know, there's an overall feeling that maybe in an Irish market a lot of managers aren't there yet. So if someone's not at their desk, they're not working, and the kind of catch up that needs to go there. There are two other pieces. One is we've seen it coming out of our US data that they've almost gone too far, so nobody ever sees anybody anymore and there is no sense of a work community or work environment. And how are they going to combat that?

Fania Stoney: Actually we were doing a bit of work with an organization here in Ireland and they had really fantastic flexible work practices. It was something that people really benefited from, their main demographic were parents. So they really liked the fact that they could either drop kids to school, pick them up, you know, they were afforded really great flexible working practices during the summer, and the energy scores were low. We did a bit of focus group work with them and turns out for a lot of people it wasn't particularly energizing working from home, or the days they did come into the office, they weren't seeing their team. So you know, you're on email to people the whole time. You're maybe not even on the phone to people. The simple thing that they did was every second Thursday is the day that the team comes in. So everybody in that team is in on the same day, they're bouncing off each other, they're having the chats and everybody's going home. That was enough.

Paul Smyth: One other thing on this-

Fania Stoney: No, you're fine.

Paul Smyth: It's just really interesting, the challenge and support aspect. So in our coaching ... we have a coaching business that's separate to Top Tier Recruitments. Possibly challenge and support is one of the most common things I see come up. I know when I went through it initially the training, it was a guy called Tim Gallwey, who's a former tennis coach, wrote a book called The Inner Game, who really talks about challenge and support. And the whole thing was, you know, you can win every single game of tennis you want if you're a grown adult playing nine-year-olds, but where's the challenge?

Fania Stoney: Yes, I like that.

Paul Smyth: The other side is, if you don't have enough support then you don't feel comfortable enough to take a risk, to meet the challenge. So that challenge support piece, it's tricky and I think you can only really get that by really working with your team when really communicating with people and asking them questions as opposed to finding solutions for problems straight away as well.

Fania Stoney: Yes, and the other big piece we'd see in that is how is failure dealt with? So if you take a risk, you take a project on, it doesn't work, is it brushed under the carpet and none of us talk about it? Or is it, okay, didn't work, let's come back together as a team. Let's figure out what we're going to learn from this, and how we're going to springboard that into future projects. That has a big impact on how up for it people can be.

Paul Smyth: A really interesting question around failure, if a company says, "We want people to fail, it's okay." When was the last time you did fail [inaudible 00:11:15]?

Fania Stoney: Yes.

Paul Smyth: It's just an interesting one to ask.

Fania Stoney: And again, we'd see some best practice around this, is some organizations have a fanfare around failure. It's one of the best failures of this month. How are we celebrating failure? You kind of go, "What? Celebrating failure?" But it's part of their culture, and actually, without taking those risks, they're not going to get the advances in their product, or in their offering or whatever it is. But they've embraced it as opposed to let's not talk about that, you know? So it's kind of where you are on that as well.

Laura Smyth: Excellent. Fania, A Great Place to Work has, and continues to gather, some fascinating data. Any other interesting insights you can share for employers?

Fania Stoney: Yes. When I was talking to the team about this one before I came across, leaching all their knowledge too, and actually one of the biggest things that we're beginning to see is there's a lot of sensationalism around Great Place to Work. So it's bean bags, and it's free food, and it's a pool, and it's a gym, and it's, you know, all those wonderful things. Absolutely, there are organizations who are part of our list and who we work with, who have all these wonderful things. But actually, what's driving A Great Place to Work is people who are doing the basics really well. So they're linking people into the value of the vision, the mission of the business. People understand where their work fits in. They're communicating really well. Some messages are getting from the top to the bottom, both good and bad. I suppose linking back to that failure piece, how are they building that in? And there are mechanisms to get a message from the bottom to the top. I feel that I'm going to have an impact on changes that are going to affect my job, my career, that kind of piece.

Fania Stoney: What else are we saying? Yes, people who are really clear about development trajectories, that piece, able to recognize people for a job well done. People being able to link back with something bigger than themselves, maybe through their CSR or their healthy wellbeing, that kind of piece.

Fania Stoney: So we just had that chat, you know, and around, okay, so what is it that's differentiating A Great Place to Work? And it is actually getting those really basic things right at the first and foremost. Building a really high trust environment, and kind of springboarding from there. I suppose the other kind of follow on we were chatting about was there's a lot of talk in the market around what does a Gen Z, want versus a Gen Y, versus a terrible millennial and all this kind of stuff. What we're actually seeing is it's less to do with that kind of generational piece, but actually where people are in a life cycle. So what's your benefits offering for somebody who is nearing retirement versus somebody who has young kids and elderly parents at home who are dependent on them, versus somebody just entering the workforce? So I suppose it's again, those who are differentiating themselves from the market have a really responsive package based on the kind of life cycle of the people in front of them.

Paul Smyth: Actually, another contributor to the report who are literally just across the way.

Laura Smyth: Yes, I was going to mention.

Paul Smyth: In our recent discussion with Eppione, they talked a lot about flexible benefits, because if you're, I don't know, a graduate coming straight out you probably don't care about a pension.


Fania Stoney: This is it.

Paul Smyth: You should, but you don't. And if you're near retirement or you've kids or other considerations, maybe, I don't know health insurances.

Laura Smyth: Health insurance or pension, yes, changes. One size doesn't fit all.

Fania Stoney: This is it, and then, you know, added onto that as if you're working in a high trust environment, you can have a bit of fun with it too. So I'm working with a company who had unlimited holidays, right? It was a low trust environment, it was total chaos. I mean it just hadn't worked as an exercise. They didn't know where people were, they didn't know where projects were. Then people kind of clambering on top of people when they were in. Either, if they kind of had two ends of the spectrum, either some people just weren't ever in work or some people never left. So they kind of compounded that. Whereas when we see that working really well in a high trust environment, it absolutely gets the job done and then we can see what that flexi benefit looks like for you. So, it's got to be underpinned by that mechanism of trust.

Laura Smyth: Absolutely.

Paul Smyth: I heard someone talk about managing by objectives now as well, as a new way to manage. So it's clear in terms of expectations and timelines, so you can have that flexibility. So it really doesn't matter if you're at your desk, if the job gets done to the really clearly communicated standards and everything else, then ...

Fania Stoney: That transparency piece is massive. So that's where people who on your team is seeing what you're doing. How is your manager clocking in with what you're doing? How are you reporting back all of that? I suppose that's when you talk about insights and trends, one of the others we're seeing are people who are taking on transparency in a whole new way. So there's a couple of examples from, I suppose, the world wide network. One is there's an organization in Brazil where you turn up for interview and if you're successful, you're told the salary of everybody on your team and your manager, and you're asked to choose your own salary. So you know what everybody's on, you know what their work is, and you know what your work is going to be. So now please choose your salary accordingly.

Fania Stoney: Can you guess what their biggest problem was?

Paul Smyth: No.

Fania Stoney: People undervaluing themselves.

Paul Smyth: Really?

Fania Stoney: They actually had to encourage people to pay themselves more because they were being relative. They felt new, I don't know if I'm ready to give value to this team yet. That was the kind of stuff that's coming up in the conversation.

Laura Smyth: That's so interesting.

Fania Stoney: Then another one was Swedish company around expenses. They were having a real problem with expenses and they decided to go 100% transparent. Everybody's expenses got put up on the company internet and everybody could check everybody else's expenses. So the receptionist could say, "Excuse me, Mr CEO, who was that lunch with today?" And he would have to be like, "Well that's, X, Y and Z, and we did this and we did that." Cut their expenses by a third within a year.

Laura Smyth: Wow, that's amazing.

Fania Stoney: You know, because it's this idea of, and I'm still coming to terms with this, but radical transparency, but this idea of the more transparency you have, the change in the culture around that.

Paul Smyth: Yes, and actually, so we do a lot on Blockchain, not a lot because there isn't a lot [inaudible 00:17:11]. But we've done a bit relative to others in Blockchain. A lot of success of Blockchain projects we see or use cases that we see, are effectively around transparency. You know, so a company we worked with there was all about if I give X amount to charity, I want to know exactly where it goes. And you can see-

Laura Smyth: From beginning to end.

Paul Smyth: Laura bought X with this, or whatever. So really interesting, the whole kind of transparency [inaudible 00:17:33].

Fania Stoney: I suppose we would even see it with organizations who take on Great Place to Work as a framework and mechanism for change. Those who are more ... the more transparent you are with it, the better buy-in you get from the employee experience.

Fania Stoney: So I'm trying to think of a good example of this. Avantcard, so they used formerly MBNA down in Carrick-on-Shannon, average tenure I think they were saying something like 16 years and Avantcard as a brand has only existed for something like four, right? So they've got this kind of dichotomy of experience going on. They came on for our certification program, which is a three year commitment and they've been very public about this. They came in year one, 57% trust levels. It was not a trusting environment, and they said, "Okay, how do we take this on?" Again, when for that very transparent approach. So they set up a Great Place to Work team, which I think at the time were called the cultivators, and they had, these are the three things that we as a team are going to go after. This is the data, this is what we're using to support this. HR, these are the three things that we're going after. This is the data to support this. Senior team, these are the three things we're going after. This is the data to support it.

Fania Stoney: So they kept it really transparent and the type of practice they were doing where ... so they had a bit of an issue around managers feeling involved. So they did a senior team rotation where a manager goes on to all of the senior leadership team meetings for three months. They see every decision that's happening. The whole process kind of opening up again, that level of transparency. They jumped from year one to year two from 57% to 73%.

Laura Smyth: Wow.

Fania Stoney: So massive impact on the data, right? Everybody included in that story. So, you know, people can really make it work for them as well. That was just an example from the network, I guess.

Laura Smyth: Transparency is key.

Fania Stoney: Yes.

Laura Smyth: There's so much happening in the world of work. What changes do you think business leaders should be aware of and preparing for?

Fania Stoney: To be honest, I know we kind of briefly touched it on the start. I think one of the big dominant narratives at the moment is future of work. What that's going to mean? As you said, robots are coming to get us. What's AI going to be doing? And then the flip of this narrative is, well, you know, we're not going to have to do any administrative work and we're all going to be completely clear to be our fully creative selves. And you know, there's a lot out there, right? A lot of chat out there.

Fania Stoney: I actually think one thing that we would see that leaders are doing really well, it's kind of not nipping that in the bud, because it's the wrong way to look at it. We're getting in front of that conversation, so owning that narrative a bit. So yes, absolutely, in five years time, your job might not exist, but let's have a chat around that. What does the job look like for you? How can we build that together? What are the trends that you're seeing in your work? How do you think AI is going to help you? What are the supports that we can put in place so people feel they're part of that conversation, as opposed to it happening separate from them, and is going to be imposed on them in some future time that they're not in control of.

Fania Stoney: Trying to think of a good example of this. I know one of the organizations we work with did what they called the dream job exercise. So everybody was tasked with, if you could build the dream job based on something that's going to be useful for the business, and good for your career trajectory, what would you do? And everybody couldn't. It was part of their performance review, and this kind of piece. And they were said, take in the themes that are coming in from the outside world, and bring all of your knowledge and expertise to the building of these dream jobs. And 27 new roles were created that people then stepped into. So this wasn't an abstract exercise, this was tangibly where are we going as a business and what can we own in this space?

Fania Stoney: So I suppose managers and leaders who can get upfront on top of that story and part of that narrative or are going to differentiate themselves in the market.

Paul Smyth: Pretty good. In terms of changes, so do you see much of a trend between different economic cycles and, I suppose, thinking of Brexit?

Fania Stoney: Yes.

Paul Smyth: If you've heard of it.

Fania Stoney: I don't know if you've heard of this Brexit thing. Actually one of the girls took two and half hours to get into work yesterday. Because we're right beside Merrion Square, and obviously the whole thing was closed down and Boris was late. So she got late, anyway. Yes, I mean, part of that is where you can get the knowledge, get the expertise, use the available channels to you, but there are other elements to consider. I'm trying to think of a tangible example now. Okay. So health and wellbeing, it's massive at the moment. We would see candidates going for interview who are interviewing the organization on what is your health and wellbeing offering? Tell me about this, that kind of piece. And there's a part of us that think that a lot of stuff out there in the market at the moment is quite tick-box around it. You know, so you can have your fruit bills, and your yoga, and that kind of piece and that's great.

Fania Stoney: Then there are some people doing some really fantastic strategic work embedding it. Actually what that means, because we're on a rising economic tide, there is oftentimes available budget for stuff like that. But if we see that shift happen, it could potentially be the first thing to be cutaway. So it was lovely to have one times were good. So for all of these things, I suppose when an organization does really care about who they are and what it means, what the employee experience means for them, they've just got to embed that, and got to kind of commit to that. Then that becomes part of who they are and it's not the first thing that's cut away based on economic change.

Fania Stoney: Then there's all the uncertainty that goes with that too. So you can only contingency plan for so much. I know we were talking to an organization called weeks ago around the whole Brexit thing, and they were like, you know, we got to contingency plan number 602 and just decided where's our worth one investment at the moment? So it's what you can do, and then it's being able to be adaptive and reactive enough that you can kind of take on any change that comes in the market.

How To Contact Fania & Great Place To Work

Visit the Great Place To Work website.

Alternatively, you can email Fania on fania.stoney [@] greatplacetowork.com.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


How To Negotiate A Job Offer

How To Negotiate A Job Offer

September 17 2019

You got the job! Congratulations!

Now it's time to work out the agreement.

Read on (or listen in) to discover how to negotiate a job offer.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


How To Negotiate A Job Offer

Laura: Today, we're going to be discussing negotiating a job offer. Very interesting stuff. So somebody has just been given an offer of a new role. It's such an exciting time in your life. Should somebody negotiate the offer, Paul?

Paul: Yeah, that's not a straight forward person to answer. I think for this in particular, this is probably for someone who's gone directly as opposed to through a consultancy like ourselves. Normally if you've gone through a recruitment consultancy or an agency, they look after the kind of negotiation side, which can be a benefit, I suppose, because you're a step removed from the process, we need to do a little bit of hard work. But yeah, if you've gone directly and you've received an offer, negotiating I think depends on a number of different factors.

Paul: Firstly, the role itself. Is it a role that you really want? Do you want to jeopardize not getting that role by negotiating too hard? I think that's one thing that people really need to consider. And is the offer a fair offer relative to the market? You know, you may be on X and expecting an increase of whatever, 10%, 15%, etc, but an offer that's made that may be competitive in the market. Just because it's not an increase that isn't necessarily as much as you wanted, it doesn't mean it's not a fair offer so you need to take that into account.

Paul: Obviously, the converse can be true as well. So you know, it may not be an offer that is relative to the market. I suppose the point is to look at what's out there in terms of market rates.

Paul: I think people really need to consider the full benefits package. I know when we had David Kindlon from Eppione on the show, we talked to a database and you know, things like pension, life insurance, all of that stuff is important, it does add up, even for more junior roles. If you're a little bit younger listening to this, believe me, a pension is important and you'll appreciate it. So do take all those things into consideration.

Paul: Is there a potential for a bonus? I think that's important also. One thing that we would always kind of advocate for is if this is the right role for you, it is a starting salary. Salaries can always improve with serving the company, etc. I think the days of very incremental increases are kind of gone. Increases are a lot more kind of competitive now so I think yeah, the main things are to really think about the role, is this a fair offer in comparison to markets and is this is kind of in line with your expectations?

Paul: Maybe one other thing. You know, if salary has come up previously in earlier interviews or whatever and the offer that's been made is in line with what you've said your salary expectations are at, then that can be a difficult enough position to negotiate from. So yeah, it's not a straightforward question or not a straightforward answer to the question.

How to negotiate a job offer - advice

Laura: I think sometimes when people are negotiating the offer, effectively, you have to reject the offer that's on the table.

Laura: So you need to be very, very careful about how you go about it. So supposing somebody applies directly and that's offered directly from the company and they want to negotiate, how should they go about it or who should they go to?

Paul: I suppose it depends on who you're dealing with. Sometimes companies will do it all through HR or sometimes it will be directly with a hiring manager or a team leader or business owners. So it really depends who's come out to you with the offer. But normally, I'd say that's the person that you need to be going back to, whoever that person is.

Paul: In terms of how do you do this, I think a lot of this needs to be based on data. So you know, on facts as well. There's no point going back with, "I feel I should be getting a salary of whatever," it just doesn't wash. If you can go back with specific examples of similar roles and similar companies paying whatever it is that you feel you want to negotiate too, that's a much better way, puts you on a much stronger footing with that potential employer.

Paul: The other thing is you need to be careful, I think, in terms of how you actually approach us. Remember, regardless of whether it's someone in HR who you're not directly going to work with going forward or your direct manager, this is your very early kind of interactions with the company that you're going to be potentially working for. So just be careful in terms of how you negotiate it. It should come across as you're really interested in the role and you really want to make something work, boss. You feel that the offer isn't quite where it should be as opposed to, "No way I'm taking that offer, you need to offer me more money." There needs to be kind of a fine line there.

Negotiating a job offer

Paul: The other thing is I suppose the converse of going in too strong is going in too weak. If you're going in too weak, you can only consent like, "Oh, thanks a million for the offer. Is there any chance you could possibly do a little bit more for me?" You know, I think if you are going to negotiate, you need to negotiate from a relatively strong footing with that data, with the reasons why you feel you deserve an increase, but you have to be careful about how you have you do it as well.

Laura: Sure. I think you've answered my next question on how much is too much negotiation. Think if you have done the research, you have the data and know what the competitors are paying, as you said it puts you on a really strong footing.

Laura: Any other key takeaways, Paul?

Paul: I think like the main stuff is, is it a role in the company that you really want, is it a role in the company that you feel you're going to be there for a long time? That should really kind of set the tone, I suppose, for how you negotiate.

Paul: You do need to really consider, as you said or you know, are you rejecting an offer and before you start to negotiate, because very often that's how it's going to be viewed. Be cognizant of the fact that you need to have kind of a minimum in mind if you are going back. If that isn't going to be achieved and are you happy to walk away from us, I think it's one of the main things.

Paul: One thing that I have seen a little bit, not a huge amount since ... God, 2007 when I started in recruitment, I hate seeing people step away from roles or offers for the sake of, you know, a couple of thousands ... I don't say a couple of thousand flippantly like it's nothing, I really hope it doesn't come across like that. Really, if it is an offer that's fair and equitable, and it's a company that you want to work for and it's the right role and you see yourself there long term, just be really, really careful about-

Laura: It's not worth sacrificing.

Paul: Not for the sake of that of a few thousand, and you will make it back. You know, ultimately if you're happy and you're motivated and you're engaged, etc, and you're doing good work, that will be rewarded over time, you know?

Laura: Absolutely. Thanks for that, Paul, and thank you, everyone, for tuning in again.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Talking Employee Financial Wellness With Adam Hankin Of Wagestream

Talking Employee Financial Wellness With Adam Hankin Of Wagestream

September 11 2019

We were very pleased to discuss employee financial wellness with Adam Hankin (General Manager - Ireland) of Wagestream, a rapidly-growing Fintech on a recent episode of the Your Pursuit of Happiness podcast.

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

Adam's Background

Laura Smyth:  Adam, can you tell us a little bit about you and Wagestream, please?

Adam Hankin : Bit about me. I'm in Ireland 15 years despite the accent. I was hijacked 15 years ago. I've done a few things in a few different industries, but I've kind of got a bit of a passion for disruption.

Adam Hankin: And so the last 10 years of my life I've kind of been involved in disrupting the real estate photography scene, marketing for SMEs. Maybe business SME lending with peer-to-peer rather than the banks.

Adam Hankin: And then more recently here with Wagestream that I've just started. Probably, it's coming on nearly a year now that I started this and launched it in Ireland.

Paul Smyth: What's disruption?

Adam Hankin: Disruption is just taking the traditional form of how we know it, and turning it on its head.

Paul Smyth: You're not a big disruption. Like we do it on Blockchain as well, and it's one of those words when I hear, I just kind of go, really? Because sometimes it's disruption like your calling it, disruption for the sake of it because it's sort of cool and trendy. Just know what, what makes disruption real? What makes it work?

Adam Hankin: It has to do as it says. It has to actually disrupt. If I'm talking about the current role with Wagestream.

Adam Hankin: A hundred years ago, you would've been paid every week. And you finished your week's work, and you're queued up, and you got paid in cash.

Adam Hankin: A hundred years later, we now get paid monthly. And if you think of anything in your lifetime, in a hundred years has got four times slower, I will buy anybody a pint. Because it is impossible to think of something that's got four times slower in a hundred years.

Adam Hankin: We have found every single way to make everything more instant, more on-demand, and pay is never been touched. And in fact, it's regressed. So in this instance, I'm going to turn on its head. And say that you could get paid whenever you want. And that is a real disruption when you're in a monthly pay zone.

Adam Hankin of Wagestream

Paul Smyth: So in terms of Wagestream. What do you guys actually do, and how does it work?

What Does Wagesteam Do?

Adam Hankin: We give employees the ability to pay themselves whenever they want. The reason for this is A, it puts them in more control.

Adam Hankin: But B, most employees do not have a rainy day fund set aside. The cost of living has got to that extent. Now where most people, I think it's 55% of people, are living month to month. They can't afford a 250 euro unplanned expense at the end of a pay cycle.

Adam Hankin: So if the car breaks down, or the washing machine goes, what options do people have? And they generally have to go towards overdrafts, credit cards or worst-case scenario, kind of a payday or short term high-interest loan. And we just think, why should you have to do that when you have earned that money? And at 20 days into the month, you've worked 20 days. You've given your business an interest-free loan, so to speak.

Adam Hankin: So why put yourself into a cycle of debt? When an unplanned expense comes up, you should be able to access your own wages.

Paul Smyth: And so that does approx to what you guys do, right?

Adam Hankin: Yeah.

Paul Smyth: You can access what you've earned before your scheduled kind of payday or pay cycle, essentially.

Adam Hankin: A portion of it.

Adam Hankin: We're charity backed. We actually report to a bunch of charities, in terms of how we are stopping people from accessing things like payday loans and things.

Adam Hankin: So part of it, one of our goals is to improve people's financial wellbeing. The other one is to eradicate payday loans. And the other one is to kind of end overdraft fees. But in terms of improving people's financial wellbeing and where we see that, businesses are looking at wellbeing and financial wellbeing as kind of being forgotten about. And bringing financial wellbeing to the fore just brings so many benefits to both the employee and the business.


Laura Smyth: Sure. Sounds as amazing for employees. What are the benefits for employers, and does it have a negative impact on their cash flow?

Adam Hankin: So the great thing about this, it has no impact on the cashflow. Wagestream actually fronts all of the streamed income.

Adam Hankin: So if an employee decides to stream income into monthly, they go into their app, which is in the pocket available to them 24 seven. And they can see a portion of what they've earned. Sorry, that was where I was leading with that point beforehand. I kind of went off on a tangent.

Paul Smyth: We like tangents. Tangents are good.

Adam Hankin: I thought I recovered well, but obviously not!

Adam Hankin: We give employees access to 50% of their earning. Up to 50%. And that's to make sure that they don't get themselves into financial difficulty. But that comes, if an employee goes into the app and they can see what they've earned. When they click to stream that income, it comes from Wagestream's bank account. Not from the actual employee's bank out. So it doesn't affect the cash flow for the business at all.

Adam Hankin: The other benefits to the business. If you speak to most businesses these days, in this world of nearly full employment, their biggest problems are retention and recruitment of staff.

Adam Hankin: If you have this benefit where you feel in control of your finances, you can access money whenever you need it, you're not going to move to another company that doesn't have it. So the retention gain is huge. We're seeing up to 40%. We'd almost guarantee businesses that they'd see a 10% reduction in staff turnover.

Adam Hankin: Likewise, in the recruitment sense, if you've got two jobs side by side and one of them pays monthly and one of them pays whenever you want. And which one are you going to apply to? So you'll see a massive uplift in that.

Adam Hankin: The third piece, which was kind of probably the most surprising and actually one of the most important pieces to businesses, is a productivity game. This is more so in the world of shift work. So hospitality, retail, manufacturing, security, that kind of thing. But in that world, you could work at shift on Thursday and get paid on a Friday if you wanted.

Adam Hankin: So people can now see this relationship back between work equals reward. And that's probably been lost since in the school holidays you're washing cars or mowing lawns or whatever. And now people can actually see that look, I need to pay the rent this week. And they go, I can't go out this weekend because of that. But they could work on additional shift and do it. So now people can see that in a changing tech control of their own finances.

Adam Hankin: And that part of it, we see probably about a 22% uplift in that. And that's actually data proven. Because we will tie in and do tech integrations with the time and attendance software providers. We pull the information from them.

Adam Hankin: So when you finished a shift, it updates in your app. So an employee actually sees, I've worked at shift and now I know how much I've earned. And it's almost like they're not getting the cash, but it feels like they've just been told that's what they've earned. Which has kind of been an idea that's been lost in this kind of pay cycle. Whether it's weekly or monthly. So that is brought back to the fore.

Paul Smyth: Well you showed me the app the other day, it seems really straight forward. Like you log in, and you just click what you want essentially.

Adam Hankin: You click on what you want. And the thing that we're not great at talking about is actually, we've got a financial education piece in the background. We've just launched a savings element to it.

Adam Hankin: So we've partnered with MABS, the Money Advice Bureau. They literally providing us with financial education. So they've got a bunch of financial education articles. We're kind of putting them into more bite-sized content. We're going to house them an app in the next couple of months. That will be kind of budgeting advice, how to read a payslip, how to get stuff out of negative equity. Things like this that people are interested in.

Adam Hankin: But using AI, we can then personalize the information that is shown to you. So Paul, if you're great in the month and you never use Wagestream at all, we'll send you savings advice and maybe pension advice.

Adam Hankin: Whereas, if I've had a tough month and I've had to use it three or four times in the months, we'd prioritize budgeting advice. How to lower your bills, that type of advice tools.

Adam Hankin: And the next bit is Savestream which is, essentially, we want everyone to have a sidecar savings scheme or a rainy day fund. And with the technology that we have, we can easily provision those. And that can automatically come out of the payroll.

Paul Smyth: Okay. And so you look after Ireland, you mentioned the other day, you do a little bit in the UK as well?

Adam Hankin: Yeah. So I was doing a bit in the UK and in Ireland. Mainly Ireland.

Wagestream In Ireland

Paul Smyth: How's it going in Ireland? What's the take-off looking like?

Adam Hankin: So in Ireland, it was a little bit longer for us to get the banking infrastructure started because it's slower over here. Unfortunately. These transfers in the UK only take four seconds. So literally you go on your app and you click the button. And within four seconds that money is in your account. You can't even log into your online banking quick enough to beat it. It's there.

Adam Hankin: With us, we're governed by batch processing of the banks. So it's three batches per day. So if it's done early in the morning, it can be in your account by three o'clock. If it's later on, it will be the next day.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. Bank cut offs, basically.

Adam Hankin: Yeah. So that took us a bit more time. But essentially we've got five companies signed up. Probably it's going to be available to about 7,000 staff once we've got it rolled out. We're generally speaking to enterprise-level clients with 250 to a thousand plus employees, is where it's at.

Adam Hankin: A lot of these businesses actually have wellbeing departments, or rewards and wellbeing consultant. They are genuinely trying to improve the wellbeing of staff.

Paul Smyth: Is it compatible with Lexicon or Revolut's and N26 all in all?

Adam Hankin: It's compatible with any bank accounts. All that happens is that if you get paid into a certain account, we just have a piece of tech, it's another bank account that sits in between. So the only thing that the Payroll Department would actually have to do is actually just change the account number they pay into. This account's in the employee's name. No money sits in it, it just passes through it. But it's kind of a smart ledger account that remembers everything that's happened.

Adam Hankin: So without going too technical, you stream wages in the middle of the month. Wagestream, from its funds, puts it through that middle account that we've set up. That smart ledger account. And it goes into your account.

Adam Hankin: The beauty of this for the business is that when Payroll make their payroll, they don't have to make any manual deductions. So the initial reaction of any payroll department is oh, this is going to be a manual process. We're going to have to manually deduct this for John and for Jenny. And actually no, they don't. They make their net payments as usual. It hits that middle account and it diverts off the amount.

Adam Hankin: So that's the key thing. It's seamless for payroll departments so it doesn't affect the cashflow or the payroll.

B2B Sales Advice

Laura Smyth: Changing direction a little now. You have a sales background. Could you share some sales advice for people trying to acquire new customers for their Fintech startups?

Paul Smyth: Yes! For my sins, I've been involved in sales for a long, long time. And managed plenty of salespeople.

Paul Smyth: The piece of advice that I'd give on this, and it's a lost art form, is just people... I think the world today, there's a lot of people doing presentation training. How to get up there and present to people. And a lot of people think that sales is just talking to people.

Paul Smyth: The key to actually selling is finding out what the customer wants. And actually forgetting about selling. It's about finding out what a business needs. A good needs analysis of a business. So that should be the majority of the sales process, should actually be sitting down and asking about the business. And finding out what they want and need.

Paul Smyth: Because frankly, if you don't have something that solves their pain you're all wasting your time. You can be the best salesperson in the world. But if you don't solve a problem they have, they're not going to spend any money on it.

Paul Smyth: My experience with hiring salespeople, training salespeople, is too many people get into a role and they find out all about the features and benefits of that business. And sit there chanting this, all of these key selling points to them. To a business, rather than actually finding out what they need.

Paul Smyth: And you will be surprised. If you actually take the time to find out what a business needs, you are probably going to be the outlier. They've been pitched to constantly by a bunch of other companies. And when somebody comes in and actually wants to know about their business, or about how to help their business, there'll be a bit more receptive to you.

Paul Smyth: Why do you think people don't do that as much?

Adam Hankin: I tell you what it is. People think that if you are confident, and you can hold a conversation and people like you, you're good at sales. Sales is an art form. It's like anything. It's ridiculous. It's like me thinking that just because I watch football, I'll be good at it. You have to go out and train it. And read books. Try and learn more about sales. Because it's an art form.

Adam Hankin: And I don't want it to sound if it's like some black art or something, that people are getting hoodwinked. It isn't hard. But people forget certain elements. Like you've got two ears and one mouth, use them in that order. And just because you are friendly and you can open doors, that will only get you so far.

Adam Hankin: But even just the basics. Like if I asked you two, what is the most annoying thing that ever happens to you when you're getting sold to?

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: And let's say you even want to buy.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: What's the annoying thing that happens to you?

Paul Smyth: For me, it's someone overselling. Being too pushy. I can't stand it.

Adam Hankin: Yeah. So that only happens, generally, if they got a rubbish product and they have to try to oversell it.

Adam Hankin: The thing that really annoys me the most, and the thing that is unforgivable, is that when I actually want to buy something and somebody doesn't call me back. And chase me on it.

Adam Hankin: Well I should never, as a purchaser, have to ring somebody up and say hi, I actually want to buy that. And I will sit there deliberately not ringing people back. You will be surprised at how many people. And I actually want to buy from them. And go now that is actually the best price and probably what I want. And it pains me sometimes to actually ring them up and give them the business. Because they haven't been bothered to ring me back!

Paul Smyth: We had two experiences recently actually.

Paul Smyth: So one was our recruitment database. And we were under a bit of time pressure because we were looking at switching. There's a 90-day clause or whatever, to terminate your contract. And you've pretty much identified to who wanted to go with. And there was a call. And then there was a second call. And then there was a scoping call to see how much it would cost to transfer data and all that stuff.

Paul Smyth: And you told your man on the scoping call. Said look, we have 10 days to make a decision on this. I need to know the cost upfront. I chased them four days after he said he'd send it onto me. And then I got an email off the guy on Sunday and it was too late. I get she said the business is yours, all it needs is an email and an idea of cost.

Paul Smyth: And due to our miles, we switched to an electric car earlier on this year. The difficulty in giving someone in a car dealership money is horrendous!

Paul Smyth: It's just insane! Absolutely insane.

Laura Smyth: We sold the car ourselves. To ourselves.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. But literally walked in and said this is what I want.

Laura Smyth: I want that one.

Paul Smyth: Just need to know what you're going to give us for a trade-in. That's everything. Crazy.

Adam Hankin: I know it. And I love being sold to by somebody that actually understands what they're doing. Nothing frustrates me more.

Paul Smyth: It's not that often though.

Adam Hankin: Well that's the thing. As I say, it's a lost art form.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: It just doesn't seem to be getting taught properly in businesses.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. We talked about this a lot actually in our own business. Because we're kind of in a strange position where it's a two-sided marketplace. Where we have clients and we have job seekers.

Paul Smyth: But for us, it's all about making sure that we're as responsive as we can. And that simple thing, or if you say you're going to do something, you do it.

Adam Hankin: Yeah.

Paul Smyth: Even under promise and over deliver is better than the other way around.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: Yeah.

Paul Smyth: I'll have it for you in two days. If you have it for you in one day, happy days.

Adam Hankin: But then you're seen as the hero.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. Exactly.

Adam Hankin: Yeah, no, absolutely. I'm completely with you on all these things.

Paul Smyth: And so with sales, we talked about this very briefly the other day. On the kind of rise of social selling and all that. I think it's a more complex process, and people have changed a little bit. And in some ways, if you were starting out in your sales career, or you did it for a few years and you enjoy it and you want to kick on. What advice would you give to someone to stay ahead of the game, or get to the top of their game?

Adam Hankin: It depends on the industry as well. I've worked in businesses that really do require face to face settings. Some a telly sales operation.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: So there are different elements to it. But my recent experience, especially with enterprise-level sales, is getting out from away from that computer. And get out and meet people.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: I had a really interesting experience the other week. We met with one of the VCs who invested in Wagestream. And we were chatting with him just about the different people that he could introduce us to. And we were talking about going proper c-suite, heads of, people like the BBC and stuff that. It was a really, really good chat.

Adam Hankin: And one thing that struck me was that there's no real fine art to this. Obviously he's done exceedingly well to get to where he is. But when it comes to opening doors, it's all about who you know.

Adam Hankin: And he was able to just list off a bunch of people. Going I know him, I share a board with him. I know this lady, she's on that board. We've got a mutual interest here. Or somebody else was on the same charity board as him. And it was just a case of acquaintances. I've never experienced anything better than actually going to networking events and meeting people in the same space.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: Going with actually zero intention of getting anything. And that is important. You shouldn't be looking at these events going, what am I going to get out of it.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: Go to them to meet people.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: And I think Ireland's great for this. Especially Dublin. Everybody knows everybody. And everybody really wants to help each other out.

Adam Hankin: So you get yourself into these things and you will meet people. And it might not happen overnight. But as time goes on, there will be opportunity from it. Whether it's in your current business, in future business. Whether it's a job opportunity in the future.

Paul Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: I'm a big advocate of networking.

Laura Smyth: Yeah. I couldn't agree with you more. I don't think there's ever been a networking event that we've gone to where something hasn't materialized in the longer term.

Adam Hankin: Yeah.

Laura Smyth: As I said, it doesn't happen right away. But there's nothing more powerful than the face to face contact.

Paul Smyth: Personal connection. Yeah.

Adam Hankin: And the other thing is just good old fashioned hard work.

Laura Smyth: Yeah!

Adam Hankin: I know plenty of people who are happy to get away with a day doing as little as possible. But if you are doing as little as possible, you've got somebody else out there that's working hard trying to build their business. Competition will always arise.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. Exactly.

Laura Smyth: Yeah.

Adam Hankin: We can see it in the UK. We were the first people in Europe to do this. There are now five other players in the market.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. And they're looking to eat your lunch as well.

Adam Hankin: They are. Absolutely. They're looking to eat lunch and dinner. They are looking for the whole lot! And if we're not on it, they will reach higher.

Adam Hankin: Luckily for us, we've got an absolute killer tech team that is able to... Our tech is unrivalled. I genuinely believe we have the best product out there.

Adam Hankin: But having the best product out there and nobody knowing about it is even more criminal. That's even more criminal. You need to get out there and make sure people understand it.

Laura Smyth: Definitely.

Laura Smyth: Adam, if people want to connect with you or learn more about Wagestream in Ireland, what should they do next?

Adam Hankin: So Wagestream.ie is the website. I'm pretty active on LinkedIn. If you can put up with me, it's Adam Hankin. So hunt me out on LinkedIn. Or it's Adam@wagesteam.ie.

Laura Smyth: Great. Thank you very much, Adam.

Adam Hankin: Thanks for having me.

Paul Smyth: Thanks, Adam.

How To Contact Adam

If you want to learn more about Adam and Wagestream, visit their website or contact Adam on LinkedIn.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Talking Fintech With Andrew Quinn of Dublin Business School

Talking Fintech With Andrew Quinn of Dublin Business School

September 04 2019

We were very pleased to be joined on the Your Pursuit of Happiness podcast by Andrew Quinn, Course Director for Accountancy, Finance, Financial Technology & Business Analytics Programs at Dublin Business School.

Andrew's Background

Laura Smyth: Andrew, thank you very much for joining us today.

Andrew Quinn: Oh, my pleasure.

Laura Smyth: Excellent. Do you mind if we kick it off, if you'd just talk us through your background?

Andrew Quinn: Yeah. First of all, the accent, which always kind of throws people off. I'm from Waterford, the long way around. My father's from Waterford, my mother's from Kildare. They met and married in Birmingham, England, and I was born in Birmingham. I was about 15 when we came back to Waterford, so I'd never quite lost that. It was interesting going from Birmingham to Waterford, pretty formative experience.

Andrew Quinn: I went to college in Waterford after school, obviously. I did a business degree. I was always, for some reason, maybe my father was a big influence, interested in news, the world, politics, history. I was always really interested. That kind of led me into being kind of interested in financial markets, I suppose, because I saw them as a bit of a kind of prism through a lot of these sort of themes get played out, macro economic, geopolitical.

Andrew Quinn: So I went to London, and my first proper job was at Lehman Brothers, but that's got nothing to do with me, what happened subsequently. I was a long time gone, by the time things unraveled. That led me into a world of hedge funds and I ended up being a trader, basically. I worked in The Bahamas for a number of years as a trader for a hedge fund. So my background is really, I suppose, very much ... and I've thought about this recently ... it's very much, I suppose, centered around markets and finance, and capital markets in particular.

Andrew Quinn: That kind of obviously led me into being very interested in the way financial services are delivered, and about 10 years ago, I got interested in this new thing called FinTech, which now has become something of a cliche. But 10 years ago, it was a relatively kind of new concept. But the thing really is, it's not a new concept. You know, financial services are, in my opinion, essentially what they are. They've essentially been pretty similar to what they were in the Greeks and the Romans and stuff like that.

Andrew Quinn: I think what's changed, though, clearly over time, we've had periods of real innovation and change, driven by technology, and I just think in the last five, 10 years, we're obviously in one of those periods. I accidentally ended up lecturing. Really did, accidentally. Friend of mine, basically, about seven, eight years ago, said to me, "DBS are looking for finance lecturers. You never shut up, so maybe this is something for you." So I fell into lecturing.

Dublin Business School

Andrew Quinn: For me, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life, because after a fairly short period of time, I just honestly found it vocational. I use that word very carefully, because I know it has a certain schmaltzy value and people say these things. But for me, it truly was. And it's led on to where I am now. I develop the programs here, and I now sort of run the programs in finance, accountancy kind of area. Yeah, the job is big, but I love it.

Laura Smyth: We can certainly hear your passion for it.

Andrew Quinn: Oh, thank you.

Laura Smyth: You never thought, with that accent, to audition for a part on Peaky Blinders?

Andrew Quinn: Oh, honestly, I clearly love Peakies, and really, Peakies put Birmingham on the map a little bit, to some degree. One of my favorite stories of recent years is, I genuinely saw Cillian Murphy in the street one day. I always think that people like Cillian, or people who are famous or visible, they must hate it when everybody's running up to them saying hello or whatever they are, and I therefore would never do that. But I was so tempted to give Cillian my best John Boy. You know, "How are you doing, John Boy?" I was so tempted to do it. I didn't do it, but I kind of wish I had.

Peaky Blinders

Laura Smyth: You never know. This could reach Cillian Murphy.

Andrew Quinn: Yeah, you never know. Cillian, I'm always up for a bit part in Peakies. I'd do it fine.

Paul Smyth: What kind of trading were you're doing, Andrew, just out of interest?

Andrew Quinn: The hedge fund I essentially ended up working for was what you might call a macro hedge fund. So it was very thematic. It was very much like, you know, "We think the dollar's going to appreciate. We think interest rates are going up or down. We think technology stocks are overvalued versus, say, industrials." So it was very big macro plays, very thematic. We used, actually, a lot of derivatives. I had a fairly strong grounding in options. We used a lot of options to kind of express our views. Mainly buying options to express a view on a direction, but we also got involved in different strategies and messed around with some exotics and stuff like that. So very thematic and very kind of derivative, particularly option driven.

Paul Smyth: Good stuff. Obviously, the three of us know each other from the tech side of what you do with DBS. What do you guys do, and where do you see yourselves fitting into that wider FinTech ecosystem?

Andrew Quinn: Look, first of all, I have to honestly express my gratitude. The two of you, like many other people, actually, have been very generous in their support. When I sort of started this, I suppose about three years ago, when I literally, it was a blank sheet of paper, "Here, go and write a FinTech program." We have a Higher Diploma and we have a Master's program which are now running, which I'm very proud of. But we're in the early days of this, and there's still a lot of iterations that we need to make as we learn more about delivering the program in the classroom. But for me, honestly, it's evolved. I think it was very well-captured in the recent government strategy, IFS 2025. That talks about the pillars that we need to build and maintain to support the Irish financial services industry, and one of the pillars is the talent pillar.

Andrew Quinn: So I clearly hope that DBS can be a strong part of this talent pillar that supports the overall evolution and innovation in the financial services industry in Ireland, and Europe, and globally, for that matter. Look, for me, it's clearly about producing graduates that have the skills and the attributes that industry is looking for. So I spend a lot of time, as I think you know, Paul ... and again, I appreciate your support in this ... I spend a lot of time trying to meet, talk, have industry events, and I spent a lot of time trying to filter that back into what we're doing and what we're trying to achieve.

Laura Smyth: Aside from fund grads, who do you see taking up the courses in the area? Do you see any career switchers or-

Andrew Quinn: Yeah. That's also again something ... Again, I take a lot of pride in trying to make this work for people. For example, even this week, we had a so-called open evening, where basically, lecturers and other people will be available if people want to come in and talk about their thinking of doing a particular course. I've always done that, and I suppose it's informed me, but in particular we have a Higher Diploma, which is literally meant to be a conversion course. It's literally designed and it's funded by the government through the Springboard program, so 90% of the funding is there for anybody who mainly has a graduate degree already, although sometimes work experience can also be make you eligible for this.

Andrew Quinn: It's designed for people who are perhaps ... For example, the other night I met a guy who's in the hospitality industry and he's got a degree in hospitality. I forget where he did it. He's looking for a career change or he's looking for new opportunities. So the Higher Diploma is literally designed for people who want to, let's say, take a slightly different direction in their career path. Obviously, they see the financial services industry as an interesting choice and hopefully they see this particular program, the Higher Diploma in FinTech or Financial Technology, as an opportunity to sort of upskill or re-skill. Some of it will be entry level, some of it will be a little bit more senior. But, yeah, I like the fact that we are providing that opportunity to people.

Paul Smyth: I know when I did the careers talk ... was it earlier this year?

Andrew Quinn: Yeah, yeah. It was, Paul.

Paul Smyth: People coming from more traditional financial services. What did those guys get out of it? We see a lot of people who are interested in FinTech.

Andrew Quinn: Yeah, I think you're right, Paul. I know, and actually the morning you came in and you did one of these so-called breakfast briefings that I do, which is basically a breakfast version of an evening meetup. They're normally primarily attended by students in the various programs. You obviously gave a very interesting talk because it was very much directed around career paths. I think you have a very strong focus, which I agree with, you have to try and find some sort of niche or speciality. That will get you in the door and that will get you an opportunity to hopefully exhibit other skills. The courses, I hope, are giving people an opportunity to figure out whether it's data analytics, machine learning, cyber security. Maybe it's blockchain, maybe it's peer to peer, maybe it's open banking.

Andrew Quinn: I think there's obviously a range of different avenues, and I think all of these offer opportunities. Just recently ... give you one. I like examples. I suppose it goes back to my background as being a finance guy, basically. Even though I think we try to over quantify certain things and I'm a bit of a skeptic sometimes about quantified finance, I do think it's important to try and demonstrate tangible outcomes. This week alone, a guy who did the Higher Diploma got a job in cybersecurity. Now he's not a cybersecurity expert, but he knows enough from the program. That's where he sort of specialized through his research project and that's opened up an opportunity where I think he's also got a holistic understanding of the financial services industry.

Andrew Quinn: I think he's also an example where, in the programs, we also try and focus on developing the infamous soft skills, which everybody, I think ... I think they're kind of almost taken for granted, but for me, they're so important, and more important all the time. I sort of have a bit of a philosophy that a lot of people, they're intelligent enough they can be taught the so-called hard skills. I think ingraining people with that sort of soft skill mentality is much more challenging. But I think it's something that there are real shortages. I hear this all day, every day, even in my own dealings with people. Yesterday, for example, talking to a guy, I won't name the institution, they outsource a lot of their services. Just having a guy in India communicate effectively with a guy in Dublin is a challenge in itself.

Laura Smyth: Obviously, you're involved a lot in the FinTech industry. What do you see as the key trends in this area?

Andrew Quinn: Again, I try to simplify things, and I do hear people use a lot of words and a lot of jargon. I mean, one of my, I suppose, reasons for getting involved in lecturing originally was I've always had this feeling that in the financial services industry there's a lot of people using jargon and blagging, I'll be honest, about what they do or don't do and know, and I've tried to demystify that. I'm a great believer in first principles. So I think when you talk about FinTech, it is a little bit of a cliched kind of thing now. As many people say TechFin as FinTech to me, these days. I just look at the big trends and I think, clearly, cloud and the digitization of data and the explosion in data has created an awful lot of innovation around that.

Andrew Quinn: Clearly, people talk about data analytics, machine learning. That's fine. I think everyone has got some idea of what that means and how that can actually be implemented into real solutions. I think when you talk about AI, to me, it's still quite fuzzy what a lot of people mean about artificial intelligence. When you talk about internet of things, again, I think this is an important trend, but it's really around the explosion of data and what do you do with this data? I suppose, again, from my background, I'm used to the idea that people have always wanted to collect as much data as they can to make a better decision, but it's still about, how do you make that better decision? So I think that's still being teased out.

Andrew Quinn: I do personally have an awful lot of time for distributed ledgers technologies and so-called blockchain. I do think there's a lot of potential in the application and adoption. I think there are challenges and I think maybe in the financial services industry, the challenges are actually still quite significant. But these are all the technologies that are changing the what's and the how and in what method or in what distribution financial services are going to be provided, now and in the future. To me, that's the way I look at it. Financial services, how are they provided? How is technology changing that provision?

Paul Smyth: Yeah. Actually, we had Hesus from Grant Thornton on there.

Andrew Quinn: Yeah. I know him very well. Again, another really great guy that's out there in the ecosystem.

Paul Smyth: Definitely. But he was talking about different financial products like insurance, etc.

Andrew Quinn: Yeah. Yeah. I first met Hesus ... I was really interested in developing an InsureTech program, and I sort of run out of bandwidth, to be honest with you. I did a reg tech, a regulatory technology, but I ran out a bit of bandwidth with the InsureTech. But I first met Hesus, and he came in and did a breakfast briefing. Again, just the insurance industry, in and of itself, is such an interesting area to look at in terms of innovation. I think the incumbents are still very powerful, but I still think there's lots of opportunity for people to develop different solutions, better user experience, better utilization of data.

Andrew Quinn: But I also think that touches on something else that's very important. I think as we talk more and more about data and machine learning, if you like, I think the ethical considerations get exponentially more important. I think ethics, as in the ethics around data governance, privacy, data security, the ethics around what sort of models are being built, and who they are or aren't including or excluding, I think these are going to be very big things going forward.

Laura Smyth: Andrew, what advice would you have for people working in or interested in the FinTech industry?

Andrew Quinn: Look, I consider myself fortunate in many ways, because, look, I've tried to make the most of whatever abilities I do or don't have, and that's something I'm always trying to impart to students. But I think the thing that I often will come back to is just curiosity. I think people who have a curious mindset, I think you can untap a lot of potential and a lot of opportunities. So for people who are currently working in financial services or are thinking about it, whether it's a traditional institution or it's a newer FinTech-type company, I think just being constantly curious about what's going on around you. If you do have particular areas of interest, maybe focusing down. I think there's, again, for me, a lot of opportunity, because I think there's a lot of people out there ...

Andrew Quinn: I was talking to a guy, for example, yesterday, and he was basically saying, "We teach this stuff in classes about how to use derivatives to manage risk." This guy works for a financial institution and he was saying, "There's basically one guy in our institution that knows how to do that, you know?" So a simple example of curiosity and maybe specializing in a domain, I think opens up a lot of opportunity as we see this kind of little bit of a shifting landscape, which I think will continue to shift and morph for, I'm going to say, the foreseeable future, really.

Paul Smyth: Yeah. So, specializing.

Andrew Quinn: Yeah.

Paul Smyth: If people want to find out more, Andrew, about DBS and the FinTech side in particular, what's the best way to get more?

Andrew Quinn: This is where, hopefully, the marketing department will like this. Obviously, the website itself, dbs.ie. All the information about all our courses. We clearly run the FinTech Master's and Higher Diploma. We have a Certificate in Regulatory Technology and then we have the more, if you like, traditional programs. We have undergrad degrees in accounting and finance, financial services. These have been significantly, actually, sort of updated, and I actually am a huge fan of our financial services undergrad offering, because I think it's much more innovative than many of our competitors.

Andrew Quinn: At DBS, one of our advantages is we can be quite agile in lots of ways. So the website, obviously, and obviously, if anyone's directly interested, please feel free to contact me. I love making new friends on LinkedIn. My email is andrew.quinn@dbs.ie. I try to be as open and as accessible as I possibly can. I'm a great believer that we're all part of this ecosystem. As much as we sort of try to help each other, we help the ecosystem, which is good for all of us.

Paul Smyth: Yes, exactly. Andrew, thanks a million for your time.

Andrew Quinn: Oh, no. Real pleasure, and thank you, both of you, for the support over the last few months.

How To Contact Andrew

If you want to learn more about Andrew and the Dublin Business School, visit the DBS website.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Building An Employee Benefits Tech Company - With David Kindlon

Building An Employee Benefits Tech Company - With David Kindlon

August 28 2019

We were very pleased to be joined by David Kindlon, CEO and Co-Founder of Eppione, a company which offers cloud-based HR and Employee Benefits software as well as a complete insurance broker service.

David joined us on the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast to talk about how he and the Eppione team have transitioned an offline business to become an HR & Employee Benefits tech company with a worldwide audience.

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

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The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

David's Background

David Kindlon: I started my working career in the financial services industry, it's nearly 20 years ago now, working for some of the larger financial houses, the likes of what is Aviva today. Previous to that, I would have done a bit of work experience in the likes of Irish Life and places like that. Always had a keen interest for, I suppose, finance. I come from a family of financial services professionals. Ended up working around a couple of places. Worked for the Irish Medical Organisation looking after doctors, traveling the length and breadth of Ireland, in and out of every hospital, between the major hospitals and cottage hospitals, sitting, giving financial advice to, I suppose, everything from a junior doctor right up to consultants.

David Kindlon: Decided during my time in the IMO that I'd go out and do my own thing, and I set up a business called Financial Medicine, which was focused on giving advice to doctors in the space. At the time, my dad had an insurance brokerage so I actually reversed my business into his which brought extra support, and obviously every business that starts out there's cashflow issues, funding, all that sort of stuff, so joining a bigger house just made life a little easier. So I did that for a few years and up until recently then, we were in that from where we were just a traditional financial services provider looking after group schemes, giving advice to corporates from, I suppose, all corners of the globe. We've customers from the United States and Singapore, Australia, right throughout Europe. Giving advice to those companies who've set up in Ireland, all around their benefits for their employees.

David Kindlon: So back around 2016, we had this idea that we need to move with the times and get involved in technology. People who sit still are going to die with the dinosaurs, times change. So we took the plunge and we launched Eppione, which is a fully functioning HR platform with the ability to manage your employee benefits and your insurance program all under one roof.

Eppione logo

David Kindlon: And the big piece we saw around benefits moving into technology was the ability for the employer to promote their benefits, and that was the big thing, and going in to do a presentation to a company who don't know you, you walk in the door and we would call it the beauty parade. It's the same in every industry. You walk in, and the next three people who come into the room, they can do the exact same thing, and it boils down to your personality, how they get on with you, what you look like. Regardless of what people say, it's what you like, how you're dressed, where you're from, all that kind of stuff. And the bigger the brand that's above your head, so in our industry, the market leaders, the world global leaders, if you're competing with those guys, it's hard to compete unless you can stand out.

David Kindlon: So using technology to stand out from the crowd, in my view, and I'm not saying I'm right, but it's working so far, is that it just gives you that competitive advantage, that you're bringing more to the table than just providing the service that you provide.

Paul Smyth: It's your USP.

David Kindlon: Yeah, it's our USP.

Laura Smyth: Excellent.

Paul Smyth: Good stuff. And before we get into the tech side, you've obviously been in the pension and benefits space for a while now. What changes have you seen in that industry over the years?

David Kindlon: I mean, there's been huge changes. There's been a massive shift away from the old Rolls Royce pension scheme, as we call it, the defined benefit which... I mean, there are companies still in Ireland. You've got your joint pharmaceuticals and technology companies. Some of those guys still have these amazing pension benefits.

Paul Smyth: There's government agencies as well.

David Kindlon: Government agencies still have them as well and they are... I mean, they've actually been known to bankrupt companies. I mean, they sit on the balance sheet of any enterprise, and I suppose for the listeners out there that don't understand what a defined benefits scheme is, it's a promise from your employer to pay you a certain amount of money when you retire, depending on your years of service and your salary, and in some cases it can be up to two thirds of your final salary if you've got 20, 30 years' service with them, and it's massively expensive.

David Kindlon: If you look at a pension funding today, the average pension fund today in Ireland at retirement is roughly around 120,000 to 130,000 euros of a pension pot. Now, that has to do you until your dying day, and the cost of living, all the other factors that have to be taken into account, it's not enough. To look and say, well, if you want to provide yourself... a 65-year-old retiring today, to provide 10,000 euros of a benefit until their dying day, so 10,000 euros of a pension today, they'd actually need a pension fund of about €250,000.

Laura Smyth: Jeez.

Paul Smyth: You're scaring me, Dave!

David Kindlon: And that takes into account... I mean, if there's ill health or anything like that, they could get a higher lump sum. Now, they don't have to go down that road, there are various options come retirement, but pension funding in Ireland has never been paid attention to in the way that it should because, I suppose, historically, everybody always saw, that's my employer, my employer will look after me, my employer will do this, my employer will do that. The shift has been moved away from the employer's responsibility to the employee's responsibility, and don't get me wrong, employers are great, they contribute into pensions. I mean, we're very supportive of employers who support their employees through pension contributions, and you'll see a wide range of contribution levels that go into the pensions, but I suppose going back on the shift around benefits... the other benefits, obviously not just pension, but life cover, disability insurance, so we call it income protection. Your health care, your dental, and then there's all the other flexible benefits, things like gym membership and cinema tickets and discount clubs and all the nicey nice stuff that people like.

David Kindlon: But, I suppose, the employee needs to concentrate on their pension, and that's just me giving a bit of advice to people. Concentrate on the pension, make sure you look at it. The sooner you do something on it, you'll reap the rewards. And people go, "Even if I draw an extra 100 euros a month on my pension..." 100 euros, you don't have to start at 100 euros, it could be 20 euros, 30 euros. Start something today, and in five years' time you'll thank yourself for doing it.

David Kindlon: So there's other shifts within the industry. There has been a huge shift towards technology. At the end of the day, everyone's walking around with their mobile phone in their hand, they should be able to see things. So, again, looking at their pension, they should be able to see where their pension's invested, what the funds are doing that the money's invested in, contribution levels, all that kind of stuff, and they can get through mobile apps from various providers. We obviously provide our own mobile app which brings all of their benefits in one place. So, again, I suppose it helps the employee understand exactly what they have.

David Kindlon: I mean, there's a lot of talk around TRS, total reward statements. We actually got a phone call recently from a company here in Dublin who were looking for a provider to provide... to actually do the TRS statements. Our system provides a TRS. You upload all your employee data, you put it into the system, and based on the benefits that you've added in, it actually provides that total reward statement for the employee to see. And a total reward statement shows exactly what you're costing the company.

David Kindlon: So if you get offered a job up the road, and let's say you're on a forty grand salary, or a fifty grand salary, you've got your other benefits on top of that. An awful lot of employees, they actually don't know the value of those benefits. So they see the flashing lights of the extra ten grand up the road, or the extra five grand up the road, and then they move and they find, well, actually this company doesn't provide medical, doesn't provide pension, it gives me nothing and I end up losing that as a result of moving up the road.

David Kindlon: And, unfortunately, we've dealt with people at retirement age where they had left businesses where they're using then the paid up pension that's sitting with the old employer that's through us. We're talking to them and it's like, "Have you any other pensions outside of this?" "No, I never started again," and they've ended up with tiny little pensions, and we see the bad side, and we see the good side of it. We see people who pay attention and do very well, and when they retire we know they're going to be comfortable for a long, long time, but then, unfortunately, we see the other side of it as well, is where you've got people who... marriages break up and one of them has to rent a house and they're now retired and they have to rent and they're living in Dublin and they've forty or fifty grand in their pension pot. I mean, by the time you take rent out of it and all the rest, you're not left with a whole hell of a lot.

David Kindlon: Obviously, with the state pension being kicked out aged 67, it's making life even more difficult because not everybody can continue to work past 65. People can, and people do, and my own father has worked up until 76 years of age, but there are people out there who can't, especially people who work in physical, manual labor, it's nearly impossible.

Paul Smyth: People are living longer now as well so-

David Kindlon: Absolutely.

Paul Smyth: ... your pension might need to last longer.

David Kindlon: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. And I suppose there is a ticking time bomb there for that generation who are under-funded, who don't have the... If you look at the older generation today, a lot of them do have the old defined benefit pensions arrangement. Not all of them because not everyone was in a pensionable job, but the people who do, I suppose they're well looked after, but I think there is a bit of a ticking time bomb where people in retirement are going to run out of money, and they're going to fall back on the government, and-

Laura Smyth: Yeah, exactly.

David Kindlon: ... put pressure on the healthcare system and all that kind of stuff.

Laura Smyth: And look, I suppose in our line of work we often see people, particularly in their early to mid twenties who aren't really concerned about pensions. I used to work in financial services as well, and I think people aren't really aware of the tax relief with pensions, and as you were saying, the onus is back on the employee to look after their own pension pot and build it up into retirement but-

Paul Smyth: Even apart from that, junior people... my experience of junior people is, they hear salary and they hear bonus and that's it.

Laura Smyth: Yeah, that's it.

Paul Smyth: They might hear pension and life assurance, and whatever, but it doesn't matter because they don't think they're ever going to die or need it.

David Kindlon: No. And there is-

Paul Smyth: It's too far down the road.

David Kindlon: We do see it. I mean, within the Eppione platform we have a full flex benefits system and that, again, if you employ a huge amount of people and you want to give that demographic the choice... So you've got the 20 year old who... all they care about is how much money's coming in every month, they've got a great social life, they want to be out there, they want to be eating out, all that kind of stuff. You've got someone who's, let's say, mid forties, they might have small kids, they're looking, going, "I've got a big mortgage. If I die... What happens to me if I get sick, my income stops? What about my kids' health? What about my partner? What about this, what about that?" And then you've got someone who's coming towards retirement, in their late fifties, who's looking, going, "I need to focus on my pension."

David Kindlon: So they're three people who should be able to choose different benefits because the 20 year old, okay, funding for your pension does make sense, from an early age. The earlier you start, and as I said, the better it's going to look out the far end. Now, trying to convince a 20 year old to fund for a pension, it's near impossible. So it's like telling someone to sit in on a Friday night. So that person, there... so, therefore, the company can give, I suppose, stock standard benefits. So they might turn around and say, "Look, you're getting life cover, you're getting income protection, and we'll pay your medical. Now, we'll also give you a contribution towards your pension, or, if you don't want a contribution towards your pension, you can use it to buy other types of benefit." So that can be things like for one for all vouchers or all the other nicey nice things, cinema, gym membership, whatever. Now, employers need to be careful because some of those purchases may attract benefit kind, or some sort of a tax to the employee. Some employers, and we've seen it, some employers allow them, instead of putting that money aside for clever things like pension and medical and stuff, they let them buy mobile phones and laptops and what not, and that's great, that's brilliant. However, tax could be applicable to that, so they need to be... it's a word of warning.

David Kindlon: So the changes within that space... I mean, years ago, you adhered to a job and you were told, "There's your benefits, take it. That's it." You didn't really have a choice, or employers used to say, "We'll pay into your pension, and as you're paying into your pension as well, we will give you life cover, we'll give you income protection." Well, we've seen a shift away from that, where they provide the standard benefits, and then they let them add them on. Now, again, a lot of employers out there will look and go, if you're managing a workforce of 500 people, it's very difficult to turn round and walk round with a clipboard or an Excel spreadsheet and say-

Paul Smyth: "What do you want and-

David Kindlon: ... "What do you want this year? What do you want? What about you? What about you?" It just becomes a nightmare. And we've great examples of how technology's improved the offering of that. I mean, I'm sure you've heard of some of the lunch services that are provided, and they're popping up all over the world, but there's one particular one here in Dublin where we're out with the business, and when we go out and sit down with a potential customer, we always talk about pain points: what are your pain points around running your business, from the HR perspective? 

David Kindlon: We were out with a particular company and we were talking about pain points, and the HR manager, she said, she goes, "One of the things that I actually struggle with, big time,"... They have 365 people in an office in Dublin, and she goes, "We provide lunch once a month," and she said, "You know, we have two people that takes two days to organize lunch because we've got dietary requirements between people who are dairy intolerant, wheat intolerant, et cetera, et cetera." She goes, "So you can't just go out and order 300 pizzas and hope for the best." She goes, "We have to provide..." and she goes, "But it takes two people two days." And I was like, "That's ridiculous." It was like, "Have you heard of any of the lunch services that are provided?" I'll give them a plug. Lunch Team is one of them. Stuart and the guys run a great ship. They've brilliant technology where the employer can give the employees an allowance and then if the employee wants to go OTT and buy themselves an extra can of coke or a more expensive lunch, they can do it using their own debit card or credit card. What that does is, it just helps the management of it. So the employee gets a notification that morning, they go in, they fill in their order, it all gets delivered to the table-

Laura Smyth: Brilliant.

David Kindlon: ... and that was one pain point. So looking at technology and improving function and, I suppose, administration of various benefits, technology is helping with that in a big way.

Laura Smyth: Brilliant.

Paul Smyth: And actually, just one quick point, the benefits segment, we see it now for offers as well, that clients are given the full list of benefits and what that actually adds up to. So we're seeing at that stage as well as for people in companies, and it's good to see. It makes people think.

David Kindlon: It does. Absolutely, yeah, yeah.

Laura Smyth: Dave, you touched on it anyway, so obviously technology has enabled what you do hugely, but what have been the main challenges for you moving from, I suppose, the traditional business that you were in, and you knew so well, to a tech company?

David Kindlon: I suppose it was the... going into the dark hole that is technology. I mean, you hear so many stories of people who, they go and... I mean, going into the unknown... and, look, I've always been, I suppose, very, very interested and keen on technology. I've always had a mad interest in smartphones, and my first car, I had stereo systems and everything was hooked up to... you could plug your phone in and you could plug your iPod in, and all this kind of stuff, and I always had that interest, so technology didn't scare me.

Paul Smyth: Did you have a subwoofer?

David Kindlon: Sorry?

Paul Smyth: Did you have a subwoofer?

David Kindlon: I didn't have a subwoofer, no. There was no room in the boot! I always had a keen interest in technology. My wife, still to this day, she calls me a bit of a gadget freak. She says, "You have to have the latest and greatest in gadgets," which I don't, but sometimes I do. And going into that technology space... but that's fine. Walking into a shop and buying the latest phone is amazing because you can go in and you can do it, but you don't actually have to worry about how it's put together. But when I decided to go down the road of venturing into the unknown, it was... I'm not going to lie to you, it was quite daunting because, again, I went out and I found two business partners. Now I knew these guys from before, but we weren't looking at just Ireland. We were looking and saying, "Right, the world is our oyster. We can bring this technology out to many territories. We can go in. We can revolutionize the employee benefits landscape. We can do an awful lot of really, really clever things, and obviously we will generate obviously a lot of money, et cetera, et cetera." So the daunting piece was the technology.

David Kindlon: Now, thankfully, my business partner, Ernest Legrand, who's based in New York, he brings a huge amount of technology expertise to the table. He's an ex-IBM guy, brings huge capabilities around data and getting data into systems and all that kind of stuff, and that's obviously a big part of what our system does for employers. It's about taking their data in a format that puts it into the platform that makes it functional for their employees and themselves.

David Kindlon: That was one thing, and then the other thing was, like every startup, funding. Funding is a huge worry, cashflow, all those kind of things. Now, thankfully, we've a great team of people. We've been very, very lucky with the people who we have, which has been brilliant, and it's great for us, but as a business, we now need to grow, we now need to bring in more expertise, people in different areas. And if you'd said to me five years ago that we'd be looking at hiring people like a tester or systems admin and stuff like that, I'd be like, "Are you sure? What do we need those people in our business for, that's-

Paul Smyth: And they sell insurance.

David Kindlon: "We're insurance brokers, we're in pensions, building insurance, what do we need that stuff for?" And even down to the learning curve has been huge. The shift from what I did in my day-to-day job to now, sitting and having conversations around technology and the way it works, and even understanding how it's pulled together, it's been an amazing journey.

Paul Smyth: And so, two questions actually. One is for people in the industry at the minute, in that kind of traditional brokerage or pensions or benefits industry. What advice would you give them? And also, because we do financial services and fintech, we see a lot of people in banks who are traditional financial firms looking to move into fintech, or insurtech, as you guys are. What advice would you give to those two groups of people to stay relevant to going forward?

David Kindlon: I suppose the traditional, historical insurance / financial services broker out there, think outside the box. You've got to stand out from the crowd. You can't just bury your head in the sand and get on with it because you will lose your customers. Your customers are looking for a smarter way to do things.

Laura Smyth: Of course.

David Kindlon: Technology is at the fore of everything we do nowadays and if you don't embrace it, you will be left behind. My advice to people out there in our space: do not rely on the providers to bring you technology. If you can create your own technology and you're in control of that, and you're using that with your customers, you will never let your customer down, whereas relying on a big provider, so one of the big pension providers out there, any of those guys, because their technology belongs to them, and if they decide to make changes or they decide to remove it from the market, you're the one who's explaining that to the customers.

David Kindlon: I saw that in Australia. We've a partner down in Sydney and they were using a really, really clever platform that a provider had taken a license for, and they had a huge success rate with picking up business, but, unfortunately, the technology wasn't being used by everybody, so the provider turned around and said, "Well, actually, we're just going to pull the technology. We're not going to pay for it anymore," and the broker who had most clients using it from a day-to-day perspective then had to turn around and try and figure out how they were going to do it, and it ended up costing him more to continue with that technology than it would be to actually lose the clients. So in the end, he had to make the very, very difficult call to turn around and tell the clients that technology's no longer provided, and it did harm his business. So it's one of those things. And, look, business is business. At the end of the day, the provider was like, "Look, it costs us money."

David Kindlon: But, one piece of advice, stand out from the crowd, think about technology, and if you're going to think about technology, try and own your own technology.

Paul Smyth: And what about people looking to move into fintech or insurtech or something relatively early stage?

David Kindlon: I mean, it's exciting times. I mean, there's a huge amount gone on in that space. I suppose if you look at financial services as the financial services which incorporates your insurtech, your regtech, your fintech, everything in that mix, people are looking to move into it. I mean, it's definitely going to be exciting times if you're going into a startup. It's going to be very, very different to your traditional house where people are watching you punching your time clock in and out, and Big Brother's always looking at you, type of thing. But it is exciting times for people to make that move, and, of course, I'm obviously very pro moving from traditional industry into something different.

David Kindlon: But, yeah, I suppose, just go with your heart if you see something you like because you just never know what the future could look like. When you think of all those employees in Google that started in Ireland when Google came to Ireland first, now those guys, they didn't know what the road looked like ahead, and some of those people became multimillionaires as a result of Google's success.

Laura Smyth: Exactly.

David Kindlon: It doesn't happen everywhere but there are a huge amount of massive success stories that we don't hear about because they're just not hitting the headlines because not everybody wants to be a headline grabber. So there are massive success stories, and I've bumped into some of these people on my journey as well, who've... they've done exceptionally well out of being part of a business.

Paul Smyth: Took a risk.

David Kindlon: Yeah, go for it.

Laura Smyth: Take a risk. Go with your heart.

David Kindlon: Take a chance. And, look, if it doesn't work out, you can always go get another job.

Laura Smyth: Exactly. Especially the way the jobs market is at the minute. There's never been a better time-

David Kindlon: At the moment, yeah, yeah. Absolutely, yeah.

Laura Smyth: ... to take that risk.

Paul Smyth: And if you do move out of it, and if you move back into a traditional, have done a year with fintech, or whatever, have learnt a lot more than I would have-

David Kindlon: And if you look at the opportunities that are around the world, I mean, the technology space in financial services, they are competing against the big guys so they're trying to get people out of these big finance houses, whereas if you're working in that startup arena, the world is open to you, whereas if you work for a bank here in Ireland, and you work for one of the historical Irish institution banks, you work for those guys, if you go apply for a job, say, somewhere in Australia or somewhere in the Middle East, or whatever, they're going to look and say, "Oh, that's great, you've worked for these guys," whereas if you've worked for something that's just that little bit different, you're probably going to stand out from the crowd-

Laura Smyth: Definitely.

David Kindlon: ... and they're going to be like, "Well, hold on, we're looking for somebody who has a little bit of experience in something around technology,"-

Laura Smyth: Exactly.

David Kindlon: ... and it's going to open a conversation.

Laura Smyth: Definitely.

David Kindlon: Think about it, I mean, you go into an interview... I personally haven't done too many interviews in my life. I've been the employer side of the table asking the questions. Something I always look for in the person's CV or on their LinkedIn profile, is a conversation piece because if you can get people into a comfort zone where you can actually have an open conversation with them in their interview, it's going to flow an awful lot easier, whereas if you're just going down to the CV, "Tell me about this, tell me about that." You want to pick something and say, right, this person might actually have something very valuable to bring to the table, due to the experience there, let's try and thrash it out.

Laura Smyth: Excellent.

Paul Smyth: Good.

Laura Smyth: Dave, it's been great to hear about your passion about technology, and demonstrating how it's enabled your business is fantastic. If people want to find out more about Eppione, how do they do that?

David Kindlon: They can go to our awesome website, it's eppione.com. That's E-P-P-I-O-N-E.com. Or they can drop me an email, david.kindlon@eppione.com. That's K-I-N-D-L-O-N.

Laura Smyth: Excellent. Excellent, Dave. Thank so much for your time.

David Kindlon: No problem, guys.

Laura Smyth: It was lovely chatting with you.

David Kindlon: Thank you.

Paul Smyth: Thanks, Dave.

David Kindlon: Cheers.

How To Contact David

If you want to learn more about David and Eppione, get in touch with him on LinkedIn. or visit the Eppione website.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


The Future Of Technology In Financial Services - With Hesus Inoma Of Grant Thornton

The Future Of Technology In Financial Services - With Hesus Inoma Of Grant Thornton

August 20 2019

We were very pleased to have been joined on our Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast by Hesus Inoma, a leader from Grant Thornton's Financial Services Advisory practice where he leads the FinTech service offering. 

Hesus joined Grant Thornton having previously worked in a number of large Financial Services firms and having recently exited his own award-winning international FinTech business. 

Hesus is a specialist in IoT and Connected Finance business models, with an excellent understanding of financial products and smart technologies underpinning emerging FinTech solutions. 

He advises on innovation, operations, and strategy to suit different needs across FinTech and Financial Services firms in Banking, Insurance, Asset Management, and Funds. 

Hesus kindly joined us to talk about all things Fintech, funds, and financial services. 



Contact Hesus Inoma

If you'd like to know more about Grant Thornton's advisory services, you can contact them via their website here

You can also reach Hesus via LinkedIn here.


Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Keeping Track Of Your Job Applications

Keeping Track Of Your Job Applications

August 14 2019

Ever wondered whether it's necessary to keep track of job applications and to follow-up? 

If so, how and when do you do it?

Laura and Paul give you the low-down on this issue in this podcast discussion.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


Keeping Track Of Your Job Applications

Laura: Paul, in your view, do you need to keep track of applications?

Paul: Yes, absolutely. You need to make sure you know where your CV is going and the role it's for, and as much information as you can really. You want to make sure that you're not sending your CV through different sources or different channels for the same role, or if you're CV is arriving in the same company by multiple different sources. It just doesn't look good. It reflects badly on you and it reflects badly potentially on a recruiter if they're doing it. It just doesn't reflect well at all, so you do need to keep track of where you're applying and what roles they are.

Laura: Yes, absolutely. How do people keep track? Because people apply for jobs through various different platforms. How do they do it, do they keep an Excel spreadsheet, or what would you recommend to people?

Paul: Yes, really simple. I think Excel is probably the handiest thing because you can search it fairly easily or you can filter by company or filter by role type. It could be Excel, it could be just a case of saving your response emails into a folder on your email, it could be a Word doc. Really, whatever works for you, but it is important that it's easy to use and not too onerous. I would suggest keeping a record of when you sent the CV, if you got a response from it, what the job was, what the company was. If you happen to know the hiring manager or if there was a specific contact that you sent it to, I'd keep a note of that as well.

Paul: That can be your basis for tracking the rest of your job search. If you have heard back, add a notes column if it's Excel. Were you rejected for an interview, do you have an interview coming up? Just keep notes on what's happening. It's a really handy way of doing it.

Laura: Yes, absolutely. It's handy and it is fairly simple. If you hear nothing back from a particular position or company in a few days after applying, does that mean that you were unsuccessful?

Paul: No, definitely not. Probably one of the most common things we see is people almost expect feedback within a day or two, and it can happen, but in most cases, it doesn't. You do need to be a little bit patient. Obviously, when we're dealing with applications on your behalf, we'll try our very best to give you a reasonable timeframe, but all sorts of things happen.

Paul: Like we're recording this in August, it's the bank holiday weekend coming up. This week and next week are probably the two quietest weeks in the two quietest months in recruitment outside of Christmas. That causes all sorts of issues. Clients are looking at a role for the first time, they get a whole load of CVs, didn't realize that a certain skill set was out there or realized they needed something else, so things may change, and that can delay the process. It can be a whole load of different things really that cause delays. But not hearing back after a couple of days, it's nothing to be concerned about, nothing to be overly concerned about. Definitely not.

Laura: How should somebody follow up without being annoying or coming across as desperate, and how soon is too soon to follow up?

Paul: I think a couple of days is too soon unless you've specifically been given an indication that it definitely will be two days’ time. I'd leave it a week, a week to 10 days is a reasonable amount of time, in my opinion, to follow up, and that's normally what I've gone by. I think you follow up, I suppose my approach if I was a job seeker, I'd probably follow up by email first. Just a gentle, "I hope you received the application. Really interested in the role. Just wanted to follow up and see where things were." If you're not hearing back, certainly follow up again and absolutely move to phone or LinkedIn if you're connected with the person.

Paul: I'd say a week or so, and then leave it a couple of days for a response, because this is an application that you've made and so clearly it is very important to you, and we get that, definitely. We've all been there, but you do have to remember that a recruitment process is part of someone else's role. It's not their full-time role. While it is definitely important for them, there are other competing priorities. So you don't want to be that person who's emailing twice a day and leaving loads of voicemails and everything else.

Laura: Fair enough. What should you say in your follow-up message?

Paul: Just a gentle reminder. It's an opportunity to I suppose reinforce that you are interested in the role. Something along the lines of, "Hi Laura, just wanted to drop you a quick email to make sure you received my application. Just wanted to reiterate that I am very interested in the role." I would certainly flag if you are in other processes. I think that's important information to give a potential new employer. It can sometimes light a bit of a fire, and so it would be important to flag if it is time-sensitive or under a bit of pressure. I'd just guard against using that as a tool, almost, to get someone to hurry up, because if you're saying you're in a process and a process does drag on a little bit with another employer, then what's happened to that process? How much delay can you do without it sounding suspicious? Be straight about that. Don't lie about things like that. Really important.

Laura: Any final advice?

Paul: Definitely keep track of applications, is really, really important. We talked about on other podcasts the importance of, I suppose trying to be a bit strategic about your career, and certainly the podcast we did recently with Philip Coffey, we talked about that a lot. You know, it's not the scattergun approach. It's being quite targeted and selective around what you're looking for. Keeping a simple spreadsheet shouldn't be a massive thing, and you'll find it'll make your life an awful lot easier in terms of organizing and planning it out. That's the main takeaway, and then obviously the other one is how to follow up and when. Just don't be that person who calls 10 times a day and follows up twice a day by email. It just doesn't work. 

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Should You Steer Your Job Interview?

Should You Steer Your Job Interview?

August 08 2019

Ever wondered whether you should you try to steer the interview discussion or is it best simply to respond to questions?

If trying to steer the conversation, how and when do you do this?

Laura and Paul walk you through this dilemma.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


Steering Your Job Interview

Laura: Today we're going to talk about a really interesting topic. It's on steering your interview. Paul, do you think, should somebody try to steer an interview discussion or is it simply best to respond to questions?

Paul: A little bit of both, I think. We certainly talked about this I think in our interview prep podcasts. So there are things that you should be well prepared to talk about and want to talk about, because they're particularly relevant to a role or they highlight particular skills and interests. So I think creating the opportunity to talk about things that you're well-prepped on and well able to talk about is a good thing. At the same time, you need to be careful that you're answering the questions that you're asked as well because it is a two-way conversation.

Laura: Yes, absolutely. And I suppose if you're trying to steer the conversation, how and when should you do it?

Paul: So when I started in recruitment, I used to always advise graduates around their CV, because I started off in grad recruitment, I'd always say, on the CV pick the subjects you like to talk about or you did well in, in college, because they'll be brought up. And it's the same thing. Talk about things that you want to be asked about. Very often, the first question in the interview is something along the lines of tell me a bit about yourself or talk me through your CV. You mention the things that you want to be asked on. They're the things that you're likely to be asked on. So that's definitely the best kind of advice I can give. If you want to talk about something, mention it. Now it needs to make sense, you can't just drop in, I don't know, something random in a random place in the interview, but you need to be kind of aware of when the opportunities are there, that you do drop in things that you want to talk about.

Laura: And you need to answer the questions that are posed to you. You can't just give...

Paul: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And a lot of it comes down to prep and trying to understand what a client is... not a client, but a potential employer is looking for. Are there things that they've done or are doing that you've done a particular project on or you've delivered a piece of work on, that could be particularly relevant. They're the things that they're likely going to be interested in and talk about.

Laura: What if there's something you'd prefer that the interviewer didn't explore too much, such as, I suppose, a mistake or a weaker skill that you had?

Paul: The main thing is, don't mention it. If you don't mention it, you probably won't be asked about it. And if it's not on your CV, you probably won't be asked about it either. So that'd be the best piece of advice. I think there's probably two things around it as well. Interviews are conversations between humans at the end of the day so they can go where they go. But very often they do follow kind of a set structure. And we've talked about this before and we've blogged about it. So you can do prep, so make sure you are prepared. I think it kind of works one of two ways. You're either someone who likes a script, almost word for word. The danger with something like that is that you lose where you are in your script and then you're thrown. The other way to do it would be to kind of go through bullet points, where you might want it to lead, and that's sometimes a bit easier for people. So prep is certainly one of the big things that you can do to make sure that mistakes aren't brought up accidentally.

Paul: The other thing I suppose is to be authentic. And to be authentic to yourself in terms of how you... I don't like the word sell yourself in an interview, but I suppose it is a bit of that. So you're not answering a question giving an answer that you think a potential employer wants to hear, you're answering your question that is genuine, and as I said, authentic to you. Generally speaking that'll keep you out of trouble as well.

Laura: Some candidates come out of interviews disappointed that they didn't get to sell themselves enough. Any suggestions on how to do this when it becomes clear that the interview is ending soon, but you haven't had the chance to tell the interviewer about your best traits or achievements yet?

Paul: So I think just be cognizant of what we said earlier on around steering the interview too much and throwing things in, in random places. It can feel a bit random sometimes if you launch into something that you had prepared and you really want to get it out, so you need to almost kind of create the opportunity. So a lot of times interviewers will ask at the end, "Do you have any questions, or is there anything that we haven't covered that you want to talk about?" Clearly, the second one is really an opportunity for you to bring up something that's relevant. But if you feel that something hasn't been explored and it is relevant in the context of what they've discussed during an interview, I think it's perfectly acceptable to say, "I know we're probably coming to the end, but there is something that I did want to bring up that I think is particularly relevant given what we've spoken about." But make sure it's relevant, relevant in the context of the interview.

Laura: Sure. Any traps to watch out for?

Paul: Any traps? What do you mean by traps?

Laura: If you're trying to steer an interview, for example, and it's not going your way.

Paul: Don't oversteer. I think we've kind of talked about that, like it is a conversation. It's a formal conversation, but it is a conversation. So you don't want to start talking about Love Island randomly in the middle of an interview. It's just a bit strange. Obviously, that's a bit of an extreme example, but make sure that whatever you're talking about is relevant and natural in the context of the conversation, is the main thing.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Talking Corporate Coaching & Mentoring With Philip Coffey

Talking Corporate Coaching & Mentoring With Philip Coffey

July 31 2019

Coaching and mentoring is so powerful for people and companies but it can all be a little overwhelming.

Philip Coffey has joined us on the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast to talk all things corporate coaching & mentoring.

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Interview

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

Philip is a senior HR professional with over 14 years’ private, public, multinational and HR consultancy experience. He is very passionate about the value of implementing Coaching, Mentoring, Career Development and Employee Engagement programmes in organisations. In fact, he was the winner of the 2018 HR Champion Leadership Award for the successful delivery of a Mentoring & Career Development Programme in Trinity College Dublin. He was also a keynote speaker for at the European Mentoring and Coaching Council International Mentoring Day event.

As an Executive Career and Life Coach, Philip enjoys helping people navigate life and career obstacles so they can realise their true potential. He has developed and delivered Personal Branding, CV, LinkedIn & Interview Skills Programmes for individuals and organisations.

Philip Coffey’s Background

Paul Smyth:        

Philip, why don't we start off by you giving us a bit of background on yourself and what you do.

Philip Coffey:    

Thanks very much Paul for inviting me along to the podcast. Yes, I've been working as a senior HR professional over the past 14 years across the private, public, and multinational sectors. Kind of a diverse enough background. In the last number of years, I would've particularly had a focus around employee engagement, coaching and mentoring, but I have the full sort of scope of HR over the breadth of the career as well.

Paul Smyth:        

And you operate in kind of a consulting capacity outside of your day job, for the want of a better term.

Philip Coffey:    

Yes, exactly. I suppose that's what I've seen over the last little while. Particularly the advantage of areas like coaching and mentoring being so beneficial for staff in various different programs would have run.

Philip Coffey:    

I suppose try to see that as a niche there to maybe give it a bit more airtime than it's currently gets. You would commonly see and across different organizations, be they public or private stuff, they'd like to get to coaching and mentoring and more work on employee engagements. But that seems to sometimes to come down the tracks, lesser priority. Hence I suppose what I've seen is in the last number of years it's something that people very much need and want. And I see it more as a strategic priority, so I've been trying to help other organizations who might want to get that up and running and give them advice in that respect as well.

The Value Of Coaching & Mentoring

Paul Smyth:        

In terms of and mentoring and coaching within an organization, what's the value for the organization, and what's the value for the people working within that organization?

Philip Coffey:    

Yes, and I think a big thing that we're sort of seeing, and it's maybe precipitated by the millennial generation, but it always, I would say, have been there amongst all the different generations in the workforce, is this idea, I suppose, that people won't have the concept. Maybe they don't really always realize to put a name on it. In HR circles, we put a mane on it, as psychological contracts. The whole idea of the give and take. The reciprocal may shift, if somebody's going to be working hard and trying to give commitment. They want to see that the organization responds in kind.

Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast

Philip Coffey:    

Something, in the lines of coaching and mentoring, what I see out of it, in terms of that in an organization where people are getting that internally or through external people coming in to offer some of these initiatives. It's showing that there is a commitment from the employer, that they see people in the long-term perspective and wants to cultivate their careers, and help them in that regard, and give them, I suppose, a plan and a structure.

Philip Coffey:    

The benefit I see of this for an organization, that it's still in a very democratic way. 60 something odd mentoring, it can be scaled up. All areas can get access to it. Coaching is kind of moving towards that direction with more kind of work going on into it, in terms of getting people trained up as internal coaches. But for the last sort of maybe five or 10 years, it's more resided in the upper tiers of organizations benefiting from it.

Philip Coffey:    

But I see huge benefits in terms of the commitments that employees would then give, and it also gets people much more focused on where their skill sets are best applied in the job. You're getting a more committed employee, you're helping to grow with them naturally, and you're very much working towards business goals within all that, because people would feel much more supporters and secure in their roles.

The Difference Between Coaching And Mentoring

Paul Smyth:        

Great. In terms of coaching and mentoring, I think if I misspoke before I mentioned I'm nearly finished a coaching course at the minute actually, but what's the difference between coaching and mentoring?

Philip Coffey:

They're in much broadly the same sort of family. Often you'd see coaching can kind of end up being over a shorter time span. The coach may not necessarily know much about your given role, for example, or in some cases, may not know anything about the organization at all. Where that gives benefits that they're coming in with a very much a fresh canvas. They don't have judgements built up about the environment necessarily. They can be much more free form but asking you insightful questions of the coachee, or the client as it may be called in coaching. That gives a benefit there in terms of nobody's coming in with too much of pre judgments into it.


Philip Coffey:    

In coaching as well, one of the real powerful things is the use of questions. The very fact that you get listened to, something that your taught a lot in coaching, to really just try and listen to where someone's coming from, and you spot through the body language and seeing where people are going with what they say, in terms of answers. Some interesting insights and you can delve deeper. What you find in coaching, is the people come up with the answers themselves in a way, but they're being prompted by the coach.

Philip Coffey:    

In mentoring, and that can cross over between maybe being purely a mentor where you're giving advice at certain times, but it's also straight into being back into the pockets, so to speak, as being a coach. That not all the time in mentoring will you be one particular hat. You can maybe go across a couple of different hats. You could be somebody who's taking a standpoint facts as a another colleague in the organization is maybe five or 10 years more experienced than you. Maybe not in the same organization but just in terms of career paths.

Philip Coffey:    

Often with a mentor, you're getting that advantage of somebody knows the organization as well, and at times can come in with advice about the steps that they made. I suppose, both offer real advantage for people. And I've seen the benefits of both for people I would have worked with as well.

Should Job Seekers Spend Time On Career Planning?

Paul Smyth:        

One of the things that's been mentioned a couple of times now is career planning and career objectives, and the benefits of coaching, mentoring for both, should a job seeker, internal or external, spend time career planning? Why do people not seem to spend a huge amount of time on it at the minute?

Philip Coffey:    

Yes, I think... Yes, I noticed it there's quite two very important parts, and I think it is a really great opportunity to talk about it, because it's almost like the elephant in the room, I would say. So much obviously, is driven by the economy, by people moving around in different roles. But what I find is, coming across people both internally and externally, sometimes the job search can kind of lurch into gear. Whereas, I find if someone has been thinking it through a little bit, and just planning out their steps over a period of time, they're doing a lot of little things along the way in a number of different kind of facets of their career to help them to get where they want to.

Philip Coffey:    

One of the key things, I suppose, that helps people, I suppose, move down the motorway, rather than going the slower roads, is that if you plan things out, you kind of know much better off, if I'm at A, I want to get to B, how am I going to get there in the quickest possible way that makes it a best asset for me.

Philip Coffey:    

What I find is if people have called a through, they'll realize there's certain things they can control within it. The big person about controlling the controllable, so if they can influence certain things, like maybe getting extra projects that will add to their CV in the given year, that will... They know they're building towards the next step up. They know the next step up needs a certain couple of extra things, and they go to that interview trying to get those products projects under your belt in the current job. And then I suppose in order to step in terms of that, is that people can also look at what else in the organization could be done to help them. Whether it would be getting the coaching and mentoring, but also other training supports.

Philip Coffey:    

If you do that in a very staged mannered way, you can kind of step your way through it, and I'd be big believer as well, in trying to keep a record of what you have tried, what's worked, what's not, and then keep refining that. A big thing, we'll hopefully we'll get onto talking about as well, is around the power of utilizing your network, because you won't know all the angles yourself.

Philip Coffey:    

If you can get all that up and running, that's much better rather than somebody coming to you and pulling surprises out of a hat in August, let's say for example, and you've nothing started. We know shocks can happen, in the different industries, and that kind of stuff. That's something where I'd say no matter where do you feel you're in a very safe industry or not, I think it's smart to be able to doing it on an ongoing basis, then it doesn't feel overwhelming.

Paul Smyth:        

Why do you think it is that people don't spend that much time typically on such an important part of your life, I suppose? You spend a lot of time in your job, you need to be as happy as you can be.

Philip Coffey:    

Yes, exactly. And I think, when thinking about that, because it's obviously something I come across a lot is, but the sort of things I would see with most people is, sometimes we're our own worst enemies at times. We aren't the person, within ourselves and our own lines, we aren't always backing ourselves initially with things. Sometimes it takes a bit of convincing of ourselves that you're able for that next step.

Philip Coffey:    

I often say to people when I'm coaching them or mentoring, it's like they may come up sometimes. They will come across and they're downplaying their achievements, and that'd be one of the first things I'd work with people. I'd go, "Tell me exactly five or 10 things in the last three, five years that you've joined that are really been at a value, or you feel you've added a lot to your career, or the organization they'd been in.

Philip Coffey:    

That sometimes, even that question alone, people can kind of... It's an Irish thing or it's different cultural thing in terms of not bragging about things, but we don't often tend to build ourselves up. I think that's the one thing where we do need to do that. Sometimes people can even just feel that then need to keep some of this stuff to themselves, and the food stuff doesn't even come out on the table. That's why I'd be saying, it's good to even get that going. Get those juices flowing, in terms of what you're really good at, because if you know what you're really good at, then you know which organizations are really matched up with that. Then that gets the train going in terms of planning it out.

Philip Coffey:    

A confidence thing is a big thing initially. Sometimes that can be people within themselves. Sometimes they can be in an area where they feel stuck in a rut, because the manager isn't very much cultivating them as well. This needs something you see across all industries. It's not just one industry or the other. You know that phrase about... It's a cliché, but there's a lot of truth in it, that people are leaving managers, and it's because they're doing that maybe micromanagement or behavioural isn't really cultivating them and helping them along. That's why they're leaving rather than ultimately not liking the organization.

Philip Coffey:    

I think there's an element of the confidence piece, both internally and externally. I mean the people around you, but also the future and possibly their very busy worlds, and a bit of procrastination can set in. There's so many disruptions nowadays. Commutes can be long. People just don't see where to fit this in. The big thing I advise people is to literally get the diary out, and try and be honest with yourself, where will you do this within the week? And don't stop other important things. Obviously there's lots of key things that need to be done, but you do need to find... Carve out a time in the diary for this in a given week, or month, or wherever you feel you can it in, depending on the urgency.

Where To Start

Paul Smyth:        

Okay. If you were a job seeker and you've made the decision that you want to start to be a little bit more strategic about your career and where you're going, what are the first things that you should start to consider when you're planning your career?

Philip Coffey:    

Yes. Well I think the first area that's really important is knowing yourself, knowing your own personality and your skill sets, what really... Where you've added value, and then it's having a real good think about, okay, what is out there and within your networks? Who do you know is in companies that when you talk to them, they're really enthusiastic about it. They seem to have good benefits, and that kind of stuff. For each individual person, at the different stages they're at, different things will come into mind as to what's most important. For some people it's salaries. For some people it's a particular figure they need to get to from where they are now. This feeling of being stuck. For some other people, it can be salary plus then certain benefits, or maybe the commute can be a thing as well.

Philip Coffey:    

It's about getting that down on paper in terms of what's most important to you at a particular time. Sometimes you could be looking for a real game changing role, but it might push you or stretch you a little more for certain periods of time, and if you're able to get those ducks in a row and have a very supportive piece in terms of the family aspect, one or other of the partners that in a family situation, can press go, and a bit of a push on that.

Philip Coffey:    

With me, I find a lot of time, you will need to clear those roads in yourself and in your locally range family and support network, that you basically say, "Okay, if I'm going from A to B, is the road clear for me to actually do that? None of these things are hindering you or whatever. A big thing is clearing that sort of space.

Philip Coffey:    

Then it's about looking ahead and going, "Okay, out there, where do I want to work? What are the companies that seem to attract me? And having a diverse sort of approach, so to focus maybe a good on your network. Rather than, I think traditionally people would send out multiple applications and a bit of a scatter gun. Obviously it gets very disheartening when you hear nothing back, or you aren't really feeling that you're hitting the mark, but you've no feedback. Obviously it's very important with people like ourselves, to have a very good relationship with recruitment agencies that you trust to build that relationship, so you can actually have them in your corner as well to open up that box also.

Philip Coffey:    

There's a number of different approaches. You're going to have your jobs boards, your recruitment agencies and then a inter network. I think possibly too much of the focus goes towards the job boards, and not towards maybe utilizing your network or recruitment agencies who specialize in particular areas.

How Hard Is It To Change Career Direction?

Paul Smyth:        

Sure. One of the things that we see a lot of is people wanting to change career. Maybe moving from finance into sales, or technology into something else. How easy or hard is it, in your experience to really change career direction?

Philip Coffey:    

Yes. I think that then alludes back to the whole piece, where the career planning really helps in this regard, because if that's something that you feel you have an inkling towards, there's a number of steps you might take towards doing that.

Philip Coffey:    

One of the big ones maybe in your existing company, if you're thinking of a pivot there, would they support you in terms of some training and that could benefit them currently, but also you mightn't, obviously, be able to tell this to an employer, but you might be thinking a step or two ahead, and it mightn't be in the particular job that you're currently in.

Philip Coffey:    

Some people have a really supportive managers who'll actually be very open to that conversation saying, "Look, I like to develop you and you mightn't necessarily be with me in a year or two or three time, but I want to help you get in that direction. other people, as we alluded to earlier on, don't have that relationship with the manager. But still, the organization wants to help them training wise. That can be a big piece in terms of moving, that you feel somewhat in yourself as well, that you have the confidence going, "Yes, well, I've done that course." If it's in a sales area or doing something to be able to staff up towards it.

Philip Coffey:    

Costs can be a factor. There's a lot of good access to courses online that aren't as costly as the more formal courses. It doesn't have to be something that's really lengthy, all time either. I do think a big thing is utilizing people who are specialists in that field. Where somebody in your network who's in a target company, or it's in a particular recruitment firm who specializes in that, get talking to those people, so that they can tell you the gaps.

Philip Coffey:    

If you get a good relationship with these people and reach out to people who seem helpful on LinkedIn or good recruitment agents, they will tell you the lie of the land. They're not going to do it all the work for you. That sometimes what people's sort of... You would love if there was a magic wand on it, but obviously, way I see it, people doing really well in their careers, do put the hard work in and it does come off when they follow through the steps that they laid out.

Philip Coffey:    

I think a big piece on that is transferable skills essentially. You do have a lot of transferrable skills, and reminding yourself of that, and going to people who are in the job that you like to get into to cover off the gaps and go where, "What might I be missing in terms of making that move? What do I need to convince a future employer, whether it's internally or externally, that I can match up to the new job so to speak."

Paul Smyth:        

Yes. And certainly when we see people who are looking to really make a big shift, sometimes the best advice from us is to actually go direct as opposed to working through an agency, because a client will come to us looking for a specific skills and we need to deliver. But then from time... And actually just today met a new client who's looking for someone who is looking to make that career shift. But definitely going direct and getting that advice from people in the know is really good advice.

Philip Coffey:    

Yes. And I think the concept, I thought around the same people, you can put whatever moniker you want on this, but it's almost like having a board of directors for yourself. That's not to be kind of smart about it or whatever. Just to be kind of professional, I suppose. You could also reciprocate this with other professionals, but you wouldn't call them that to themselves.

Philip Coffey:    

What you're doing is you're building up a long-term network with people where it's a two-way relationship, where they can call upon you about your expertise, and you can call upon them. When people feel that there's that reciprocal relationships, they will help you and give you an insight and you'll be familiar, obviously, in the field that you're in, that more organizations now like to get referrals. If you do have a network built up, and you come across very professional, and reached out and had a coffee with people and done... The concept mightn't be fully out there, but it's more and more coming out there, around the whole idea of doing information interviews.


Philip Coffey:    

If you take that example of moving from finance to sales, try and set up a few, what I would call coffee meetings, which will be essentially trying to find out from people who are in sales, for example, what they've done in their career to help them move forward and then you can kind of go, "Okay, what bits can I take from each person?" Because I won't have all the answers, but I'll have some of the picture if somebody came to me from HR, for example, or coaching on some other aspects, but different people will have different pieces of the pie, and you put that together. That's a really formidable package then that you have. If you really know where you're going then.

If you say the six degrees of separation across the world, certainly in Ireland it feels sometimes like it's two, that it's very close. It's certainly not the place to fall out with people, because it comes back around and on the flip side of that, the positive side of that, is you can build good relationships with people, and come across really professional, and somebody who has integrity and enjoys the role that they're doing or the roles are after looking for in the future. You'll get a good referral going your way off to somebody who is a decision maker in a company and that will help you in terms of getting more proper leads, that will lead to interviews.

Philip Coffey:    

The way I kind of look at it, in terms of stats, say you send out 20 applications, you might get one reply. It's much better if you go out and reach out to 20 people and got five to 10 people that you've met you for a coffee, or least had a phone call, and it lead to two or three interviews. That's a way better hit rate, and it'll be at least that, if not better, I would say if people went on that approach.

Barriers To Career Progression

Paul Smyth:        

Yes, I agree. In terms of career progression, what would you say are the most common barriers to us, and how can you successfully navigate those barriers?

Philip Coffey:    

Yes, I think, I suppose, it's just piece in terms of like if people know where they want to get to, and actually take the methodical steps, that's going to help them get to the destination, so to speak. Sometimes as I've said, it's people pulling their own bars up themselves, going where they looked at... Again, a little bit of a cliched phrase around... You hear these stories that people look at a job description, and you'll have certain people look at them and go, "Look, I have 67% of that.60 or 70% of that job description, but I am going for it." Then you'll have other people who'll go, "Oh, I need to have 90, 95% of it before I'll go for it."

Philip Coffey:    

I actually think that people can do it, if they feel they have the 60, 70%, maybe even sometimes less, because you can get very well prepared for it, and as I said, the pieces that we were discussing earlier on, can fill in some of the gaps for yourself.

Philip Coffey:    

The big thing I would say to people is that these, in terms of when they look at job descriptions of roles, that to do see themselves going to, so they're progressing from maybe mid ,to senior tier for example, what would be the projects that they could take on in a given year that would help them. That would look really value added when they went for that interview, or putting forward their CV.

Philip Coffey:    

You want to show that you've pushed the boundaries in your current job, and that's you're well able for the step up. Can you take on things off your manager's desk? For example. Can you see trends coming down the road or something important in the organization, and on a wider group, that could be taking a task force to deal with a particular problem. And then you can claim some of that for your CV. That's going help you, put you in a higher echelon than when you're looking to kind of progress forward to the next role.

Philip Coffey:    

Something that can be said a lot out there for different roles, within mid tiers. It's like do people have the breadth of experience, and do they have good depth, as in have they done projects, which are of good value to the organization.

Philip Coffey:    

That's something, I think when people hear that, they get a bit afraid and go... Well, initially they think, "No, I haven't done that." And then when you sit down with them, whether you're coaching or mentoring them, you go, "Actually talk me through the last few months ago." And you go, "There's loads of things there." Sometimes you need somebody in your corner telling you that it's that good. That's sometimes what people naturally feel. I's like, "Oh sure, I'm not that good." And then you actually sit down, and you go, "Actually, it's loads of really great stuff. It's just how you package it and sell it then."

Key Things For Job Seekers To Remember

Paul Smyth:        

What would you say the key takeaways are for job seekers that they can influence?

Philip Coffey:    

Yes, I think if people even wanted to boil it down into four or five simple steps, one of the first steps is that piece around really identifying what they do see themselves wanting to get in the next year or two years from now. What can the organization currently help them with? If you don't already have resources there, like coaching and mentoring or good learning development opportunities, maybe could ask for some of that supports. Having a think about that.

Philip Coffey:    

Also, being able to reach out to people who you would have worked for before, to make sure that you have keep that network going. The two different approaches. One is the group of people who you know in the past, you can very easily pick the phone up to and talk to about your career ambitions. They'll have a good sense about knowing where you were before and where you might want to get to. They'll have some talks, and it will also remind you of really good projects that you did in their organization with them. Plus, there's the whole piece around reaching out to people in the role that you would like to get into. And trying to learn about what the gaps may be.

Key steps

Philip Coffey:    

I think that's a really important thing in terms of when you have that clarify about what you want, a lot of things start to flow. Then when you know what the gaps, you're actively working towards, I suppose, nailing all that down. A good analogy in terms of that, is like any sports team or any people that you see being particularly successful, there's always something they'd gone away to work on, to get better at, and that kind of moved them forward.

Philip Coffey:    

If you're into tennis for example, Djokovic would've been working away on his diet a lot, over the last kind of five, seven, 10 years. Incremental improvements in some of those areas, and strength and conditioning, and that kind of stuff. That's just Wimbledon, just gone by, to freshen people's minds. But any of the sports teams, they talk about this area of marginal gains, and it really is about that. It's about looking at going... It's the targeting the particular roles. It's getting your CV correct and proper. It's about taking that kind of more niche approach, I would call it, rather than being herded into what everybody else is doing in terms of jobs boards, and getting lost in the kind of ether.

Philip Coffey:    

If you can kind of take a more niche should approach and really a targeted approach yields, you'll get zero in on the particular role, and particular companies that you're interested in. You'll stand out because you'll have really done your homework on it. You'd be getting those leads in terms of interviews, whether you get them directly yourself or you get referral in through people that you've worked with in your network.

Philip Coffey:    

Or people that you may even not have known, but you've opened up the box now over the coming months to basically work away on an area that you know that somebody is working in a really good company who would add something to you, and you're getting those nuggets of information. Then it's about putting together...

Philip Coffey:    

And I think the real thing that I would encourage people to do is have somebody in their corner who's going to hold them somewhat accountable on that or at least can guide them on it. Whether that's to go down to the former route of coaching, or getting a mentor, or at least somebody who is a very trusted peer, who you know is successful in their own right, in their careers and could actually tell you straight as it is. What's really good and what you may need to work away on. Because it's no use if you don't get really much proper feedback.

Philip Coffey:    

There's a number of things that goes in that, but when you piece all them bits together, and you're going to look at where you're at now, and what you want to move towards, you can really start to see what you can work at. You can see actions taking fruit. Over a period of time then, you start to get the really direct leads, and leads to interviews, and hopefully getting a bit of job offers.

How To Contact Philip

If you want to learn more about Philip and how he can help, get in touch with him on LinkedIn.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Pete Townsend of Norio Ventures On The Funds Industry In Ireland And On Helping Tech Startups

Pete Townsend of Norio Ventures On The Funds Industry In Ireland And On Helping Tech Startups

July 25 2019

Pete Townsend is a fascinating guy.

An influential leader with an extensive career in asset management, asset servicing and advisory, he regularly delivers insight as a keynote speaker, moderator, MC, and podcaster. We spoke with Pete about his background, how he helps tech businesses via Norio Ventures, and about the future of the funds industry in Ireland.

For a special edition of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, Paul spoke with Pete about his background, how he helps tech businesses, and about the future of the funds industry in Ireland.


Special Guest Interview: Pete Townsend

We spoke with Pete about his background, how he helps tech businesses, and about the future of the funds industry.

Check out Norio Ventures and also Pete's very cool entrepreneurship podcast: Money Never Sleeps. You'll find that at www.moneyneversleeps.ie.

Pete Townsend – The Background

Paul Smyth:
Obviously, you have a big background in terms of funds and the fintech side as well in particular, in your more recent life. Can you give us a bit of background about yourself?

Pete Townsend:
Sure. As you mentioned, I've got a long background in the funds' industry. I am the founder of Norio Ventures. I set it up because, before I left BNP Paribas in 2016, I had been inspired by the captains of venture capital, just with some of the experiences I had been through in my final year at BNP Paribas where I was Global Head of Product Development for the Hedge Fund Servicing Business and, previously, had been COO of the BNP Paribas Fund Services, Dublin operation.

Pete Townsend:
In that last year, my boss said to me in Paris, "Pete, go out into the fintech space in Ireland and see if there's anything worth investing in." I found it was worth investing in me. He set me down a path to my own exit, which was convenient! When I left, I thought I'd just waltz right into the world of consulting. Sure, that guy, that commercially friendly COO, no problem. What I learned quickly was that I was like a little boy lost in the woods and that just because you're a successful COO and good at product development... Anyway, it doesn't mean you can go out and be on the front foot and be a professional consultant all the time. It's night and day. Anyway, where I really found my inspiration is what I wanted to start doing anyway, which working with startups.

Pete Townsend:
I knew that I wasn't going to be able to just waltz into venture capital, which was the ambition of launching Norio Ventures, without actually learning the startup mentality. I've spent the last nearly three years now doing just that, working with 16 different startups across Ireland, the US and the UK, a little bit into the continental Europe, helping them with getting customers, the three Ps of people, product and platform with process being in the middle of all that and, also, regulation and getting funding. That's what I do right now.

Pete Townsend:
I'm still connected to the funds' industry, having my first real gig being running the Brexit Committee for Irish Funds. I stayed close. I also stayed close to the Adminovate Conference that I do with the guys from Fund Recs where we pull together 250 to 300 people, we've done it twice now, January last year, January this year, to get people thinking about the future of the funds' industry, where things are headed.

Paul Smyth:
Nice segue!

Pete Townsend:
Thank you!

The Future Of The Funds Industry In Ireland

Paul Smyth:
Where do you see the landscape in Ireland at the minute and the funds' industry as a whole?

Pete Townsend:
Ireland's built up such an impressive business here. It's something like close to 40,000 people between those directly employed in the fund industry and those that are on the sidelines of that. The four and a half, whatever is it, five trillion dollars under administration here, excellent for a country with five million people that built this up. What Ireland doesn't really get to see is what is happening in the mainstream asset management community. Okay?

Pete Townsend:
We are very much a middle and back-office operation here. Now, with Brexit, there are tons of UK managers that are setting up in Ireland. They're being referred to as front office roles, but they're really the more perfunctory front office roles around compliance, around risk management and those types of things. What we're not going to see all that much of is the trading operation, the portfolio management, the investment decision making.

Pete Townsend:
Exactly. All of that will still happen where all that talent is. Now, there's a big expat community all over the world, a lot in London. Would they like to come home? Some might, some may not. Are they in New York? Some may want to come home, some may not. Right? Seeing these opportunities, that's more of a 10 to 15-year arc than it is a two to three-year arc after Brexit. I think Ireland's very much going to stay middle and back-office focused for the next, at least, five years if not longer.

Pete Townsend:
What I'm saying about not seeing the mainstream asset management community is the headaches of the asset management community right now where you've got regulatory overload. You've got a huge web of legacy technology that is weighing you down. You've got complexity all over the industry, across all the different parties involved in one single investor transaction when it comes to independent financial advisors, individual investors, third party distributors, fund platforms and the whole value chain of the fund investment process.

Pete Townsend:
What's happened in some of the major markets, so take London, for example, I think I mentioned to you, I'm advising a group now called Fund Admin Chain. The experience with them has been that, being in the middle of that community in London, especially at the front office side where these people are dealing with these headaches every day and not just being part of a business that actually is the pure operational side.

Paul Smyth:
At the coalface really.

Pete Townsend:

Pete Townsend:
You've got, I don't know, 100 big-name asset managers in London, probably more. Amongst those 100, there's at least 25 or 30 where they've got a CTO or a chief innovation officer or a COO or someone even in the front office that has already tweaked that the future of the funds' industry is no longer 80,000 different individual ledgers, and that application of distributed ledger technology to the funds' industry has started to happen. Now, it's happening in small pockets. It's happening in small circles. There are players like Calastone that are moving ahead on that. That's just DLT internally for them. It's not everybody.

Pete Townsend:
This is saying, "Forget about the Bitcoin blockchain, because that is not scalable." That is not something that you can actually apply to capital markets. This is saying, "What are some of the finer components of, what you call, a multi-party consensus model?" Where a number of us can all be a part of the same network and say, "I know that you can see what I can see in terms of the ledger, this distributed ledger. I don't need to reconcile to anybody, because we all have the same records." We don't know everything that you've done. We don't know anything that other people have done if you or I am only party to a trade.

Pete Townsend:
What's happened is that everybody knows that, yet, the other guys that have done a trade know that they've got the same details. Right? Just having that trust, that knowledge, that transparency is big. This is where things are headed. It's already headed that way in other industries. The number one area to be knocked out, sorry, not to be knocked out, the number one area that is due for transformation is transfer agency. There are so many record-keeping functions in transfer agency that are not that necessary when it comes to having... Because if you have an investor that has a record, you have their advisor that has a record, you have a third-party distributor that has a record, you have a fund platform that has a record, all from one transaction. Then, the transfer agent has a record as well.

Pete Townsend:
That's five copies of the same transaction, the same holding. It can all be mutualized as one, and then obviously distributed. That is the first thing that can go. That opens up, what, at least 10% of the funds' industry in Ireland. Reuse, retrain, give people new capabilities. To step back from the technical side of it, Paul, to summarize that, I think that technology is moving incredibly quickly.

Pete Townsend:
I think that Ireland's going to be on the receiving end of it, and it will be done to us here if we... You can say if we don't move quicker on the technology side, but there is no incentive for us to move quicker on the technology side. In the funds' industry, the funds' industry, to me, is about you've got the people side of it, as I said, built up this great industry. A lot of people have jobs, a lot of people have great career opportunities, a lot of people have development opportunities, things are all positive in that regard.

Pete Townsend:
Being an operationally-focused industry means that we're not going to have many of the heads of innovation based in Ireland. We're not going to have many of the heads of distributed ledger technology-based in Ireland or the Heads of Digital based in Ireland. They're going to be in other places in driving this stuff forward. Perhaps the bigger players, like a State Street, a BNY Mellon, Citi, J.P Morgan, that'll have these entry points into things like R3, into things like Clearmatics or Finality which is a utility settlement coin project that's coming to market, they're plugged into it. Hopefully, they'll engage their Irish operations in those projects to bring things to market.

Pete Townsend:
Is there a central point of focus driving Ireland forward on that to go out to the heads of these businesses in Ireland and say, "Here's what's coming guys?" Is there anything that we can do here at the local level to drive things forward? I absolutely know there is, what we can do. Is there that incentive there for the main decision-makers in Ireland within the funds' industry, within each one of the players, to actually say, "You know what? Listen, we're going to put," and it's a not money thing, but say, "We're going to put 100K into this." Whatever it is, something as a group effort to move everybody forward, I just don't think that incentive is there.

Ireland’s Opportunity

Paul Smyth:
Where's the opportunity then for Ireland specifically within all of that?

Pete Townsend:
The way I always tried to run things at BNP Paribas, Paul, was to say, "Let's create capacity. Let's take stock of all of the opportunities to automate things, and let's measure that quarterly and see how we can improve." If we could measure people's capacity, we could see where the excess capacity then moved, where we created that excess capacity. When we did create that excess capacity, we took people out of those teams and we moved them into a technology team that was just purely focused on improving things again and taking things to the next level of automation.

Pete Townsend:
Big, new mandates that were coming in that were, all of a sudden, growing from 100 people to 130 people over the course of a few months was necessary, to say, "What's your long-term plan to be able to handle that level of growth?" I said, "Listen. Love to grow this operation and maybe 200, 250 people max and then stop, and then be able to support the growth of the business, because we are so highly automated, by getting new business but without hiring new people." That wasn't saying because we were hiring people in India or in Eastern Europe. That was just saying that we created the scalability here where instead of in the old days where we had to go hire 10 people, we now only have to hire one or perhaps only half of one.

Paul Smyth:
Because of technology and automation.

Pete Townsend:
Because technology has taken over. There are huge opportunities to do that here in Ireland, but it is a discipline. It is focused. It is long-term. It is measure, measure, measure, change, change, change. I'm absolutely positive that my old colleagues are doing things like this. I was just visiting an asset manager today here in Dublin and talking about blockchain, distributed ledger technology. They were talking about their robotics process automation project and RPA and artificial intelligence projects.

Pete Townsend:
One of the things I said to them, I got their consent, I got their heads nodding when I said it, I said, "Listen. What I really like about your guys' project is that it feels like it is long-term. It isn't something that you'll take a break quarterly because you got a big, new mandate coming in. This feels like it's real commitment, that you're doing it forever." That's what it needs to be in the funds' industry.

Paul Smyth:

Pete Townsend:
Right. I've seen far too many projects come and go where it's like, "All right. Listen, let's get this thing rolling. In September, we're going to get it all teed up to have a big investment in January that is just purely focused on improving our own internal operations and bringing our automation levels way up." That project gets blown to bits when someone wins a big, new client and you got to actually keep doing things the old way.

Paul Smyth:
Yeah, I've seen it.

Pete Townsend:
Because it's safe. Instead of going out and hiring a technology expert with some strong leadership skills to run the project, you're going to hire another ops person to lead the team. The opportunity, I think, is incremental.

How To Keep Up To Date

Pete Townsend:
Be extremely well plugged into what's going on and there are such easy ways to do that. You read The Finanser.org, which is Chris Skinner's daily blog, you can plug into what's going on. You look at Finextra every day, you can figure out what's going on. You can do that in five to 10 minutes. I do it every morning. If you want to pay the 273 Euro per year for the FT, which I do, you can collate that down and curate that down into the topics that are most important to you. Mine are fintech, the funds' industry, blockchain DLT, Bitcoin is in there as well, cryptocurrency, private equity, venture capital and then technology.

Pete Townsend:
I get that nice curated list of about 25 to 30 articles a day. I might read seven or eight in the first 20 minutes of my day, and I'm plugged in. Then, when I figure out the things that really interest me, I just look at the website. You need that hard graft commitment to getting better all the time and becoming more automated. As Paul Noonan says... don't outsource it, tech it. Don't move it, tech it. You also need to be extremely well plugged into what's going on out there in the market in general, not just the funds' industry. You got to look beyond the funds' industry into capital markets, in general, to see how people are using technology to make jobs better.

Is Blockchain A Threat To Fintech?

Paul Smyth:
Regarding fintech and blockchain - is blockchain a threat to fintech if you're not using it?

Pete Townsend:
If you look at where things have come from, blockchain, the first incantation of it is the Bitcoin blockchain. Right? That is 11 years old now.

Paul Smyth:

Pete Townsend:
It has proven successful. Now, take away whatever you want from it, from Silk Road, from illicit activities, from the venom I get spit at me when people talk to me about this, said, "It's all about drug dealing and money laundering," it's like, "Well, the easiest way to launder money is with something called the $1 bill or the $100 bill." Anyway, the Bitcoin blockchain and Bitcoin itself is the first cryptocurrency, digital money. It operates on a consensus mechanism so that you don't have a double spend. You can have a digital thing that only exists in the virtual world that cannot be copied. That enables it to be a piece of value. Now, that value is up and down, up and down all the time. We're still very early days, even though it's 11 years in, in the maturity cycle of cryptocurrency. Okay?

Pete Townsend:
On the other side, you have the Love Blockchain, Hate Crypto crew. What they're saying is: "I've looked at blockchain, this critical part of the Bitcoin framework, and said, 'I really like that. I think there are pieces of it that are completely applicable to the financial markets. I'm going to take distributed ledger technology,'" which is the umbrella term for blockchain because there are many different types of blockchain technologies. It's referred to as distributed ledger technology, "I'm going to take elements of that." That was like, "Wow, the world is not actually flat." That was the discovery.

Pete Townsend:
Like Christopher Columbus sailed to the Dominican Republic and thought it was the West Indies, what we're saying is that, yes, the world is not flat but you do not need to get three boats to sail to the Dominican Republic, or Hispaniola as he called it. We can go a different way with this. We can go over the North Pole. I don't know where I'm going with this analogy!

Paul Smyth:
It's much like the transfer agency that you talked about.

Pete Townsend:

Paul Smyth:
It's five different records of the same transaction.

Pete Townsend:
Exactly, exactly. The whole idea is to say, "I can mutualize this database." HSBC are doing it internally with they built this thing called FX Everywhere, so that they can have one record of an FX transaction internally between all their subsidiaries. Every single day, they hedge all their FX exposure across all the HSBC subsidiaries. They're now using distributed ledger technology to do that. Great. That's one side of the bridge where it's love blockchain, hate crypto. When you start talking about crypto to the banking crowd, they kind of lose the will. Right?

Pete Townsend:
Then, you got crypto first with these Cryptopians that are like, they came out of the financial crisis and said, "We don't trust banks. We want to create our own money," so on and so forth. It feels like, for a time, that these two sides were going to meet. People were building a bridge from the crypto first and people were building a bridge from blockchain first, were trying to bring it together. I think if they don't come together, they're just going to keep building and we're going to have two bridges. No big deal.

Pete Townsend:
The blockchain and DLT component of it, I mean fintech, to me, is reinventing finance through technology. A core component of being able to reinvent finance through technology is saying, "What is the best technology stack for what it is that I'm building?" It may be distributed ledger technology. It may be a centralized database. It may just be building a wonderful UX, UI on top of somebody else's kit or just plugging in an API to something.

Paul Smyth:
Not to go too far off the fund side, and we've had a lot of the same thoughts around blockchain, there seems to be a blockchain trend at the minute where you stick blockchain into everything. I saw a recruitment blockchain idea there a while ago, and it makes no sense.

Pete Townsend:

Paul Smyth:
It's just taking blockchain into something for the sake of saying blockchain.

Pete Townsend:
Yeah. I feel like I'm always a few months ahead of this. I feel like that blockchain hype cycle has come way up. It's then crashed. I think we now have a critical mass of people who are saying just what you're saying, which is you got to really be careful about - people just putting blockchain on something to try to get some hype around it. I think largely what I look at, and becoming part of this community now is really helpful, the venture capital community, you see where people are making investments.

Paul Smyth:

Pete Townsend:
I always say that if I look at a deck for a startup that I may want to help, if I see the word blockchain mentioned on page one, it goes right in the bin. I want to see it on page eight or not at all when they talk about their tech stack and say, "This was the best solution for our value proposition."

Paul Smyth:
There's got to be a clear reason for it.

Pete Townsend:
Yes, I had a very interesting chat the other day with a guy who said, "Listen. I really think there's an opportunity to put blockchain on top of holiday homes in foreign countries."

Pete Townsend:
I said, "Well, tell me what problem you're solving." He told me the problem he's solving.

Pete Townsend:
I said, "Tell me how you're going to get this to your customer base," and he told me that.

Pete Townsend:
I said, "What does blockchain have to do with it?"

Pete Townsend:
It's like, "I don't know. I just think it's a great idea." Right?

Pete Townsend:
I had this conversation with an asset manager three or four months ago. It was a real estate thing as well. You got to be careful. There are 10 pages to any pitch deck that I go through religiously. What is your elevator pitch? What problem are you solving? What is your solution? How big is the market? What is your go-to-market plan, right? What is your business model? What is your team? What is your competition? What are your milestones? What is the ask?

Pete Townsend:
The only place you should be mentioning blockchain on that is when you're talking about pretty much capabilities of your team. If you say that, in your solution's slide that, "Listen, this is powered by Hyperledger or powered by Ethereum or powered by this Hedera Hashgraph blockchain protocol or DLT protocol," wonderful. The question I'm going to ask is, "How skilled are you guys in that? Do you have the expertise to be able to actually deliver that? Show me that in your team."

Pete Townsend:
Or if we know that that's going to need a big financial investment, how much money are you asking for? Is that realistic? Are you asking for a billion? Are you asking for 250,000? How long is that going to last you if you need to actually bring in five blockchain developers? I feel like, as I said, I'm always like three or four months ahead of this just because of how deep into it I am.

Paul Smyth:
In terms of the funds' industry, we're talking about investment managers and maybe that's a long term play to see genuine front office at scale in Ireland.

Pete Townsend:

Paul Smyth:
We have the innovation side, which is being led outside of Ireland mainly.

Pete Townsend:

How To Stay Relevant In The Financial Services Industry

Paul Smyth:
It's going to happen to us. There is an opportunity there, I think, somewhere. You have blockchain, you have fintech. If you're sitting there as a transfer agent or as a fund accountant or in middle office or trade processing or whatever today, what is your advice for those people to stay relevant in the industry over the next one to three to five to 10 years?

Pete Townsend:
I like to think of someone I used to work with who shall not be named, but I said to her, because she was dealing with such crap, and I said, "How do you stay with it? I mean you're getting crap from that person. You've got all these IT problems, so on and so on and so on." She's like, "It's the customers. It's the clients. I love talking to them. I love feeling like we're sorting out a problem for them, even though it might have been a problem that we caused ourselves." Getting close to customers, getting close to clients, is highly advisable. Then, you figure out what their problems are and you figure out what really matters to them.

Pete Townsend:
Where the industry should be going is really defined by your customers, which are asset managers and wealth managers and anybody that's using the services of the funds' industry in Ireland, and getting as close as you can to them. I talked with someone in New York who had just built a brand-new fund administration platform. I'm like, "Okay, great. How long did that take?"

Pete Townsend:
He's like, "It took three years."

Pete Townsend:
I said, "During those three years, how many conversations did you have with the prospective clients?"

Pete Townsend:
Like, "None."

Pete Townsend:
I said, "Why not?"

Pete Townsend:
He said, "Because I already know what to build."

Pete Townsend:
I said, "How do you know that?"

Pete Townsend:
"Because I've been in the industry for 15 years."

Pete Townsend:
"How long has it been since you talked to a client?"

Pete Townsend:
"Well, I was always in tech... " Bing, problem. Okay, what do your customers actually need? I think if I am talking to someone in the funds' industry, I did this just actually a few months ago, and the conversation was along the lines of someone working for one of the big banks in fund administration, was thinking about moving on. I said, "Why?"

Pete Townsend:
They're like, "Well, I just think there are so many more opportunities elsewhere."

Pete Townsend:
"Well, why is that? Tell me what you're working on." Over the course of the conversation, what we got down to was there are actually loads of opportunities. The guy was 30 years old. He was looking towards going to the next five years before him and his girlfriend got married and they started having kids and it was prime earning time.

Paul Smyth:

Pete Townsend:
Learn as much as you can, connect with as many senior folks as you can in your employer and ask them what they do, ask them what their perspectives are. The stuff that you learn is amazing. Try to find a mentor, try to find someone who is connected really to what's going on in the outside world, outside of the everyday life of the funds' industry in Ireland, with what's really happening out there and what's really coming towards us.

Pete Townsend:
I would highly recommend that, go to meetups, get onto Meetup.com, find topics that you're interested in, get out there and talk to like-minded people. It doesn't have to be all, "Oh my God. I am such a professional geek." It can be, "Hey. I'm going to meet some pretty cool people that might be interested in the same thing as me." Does that mean you have to change jobs? No. You go to work each day. If you're not happy doing what you do at that job, get a new one. Right? Or find a way to increase your level of happiness and engagement in what it is that you're doing. Don't waste your time. If you can find ways to go bring the outside world and these wonderful new things to bear in your current role, by all means, do it.

Moving From Fund Admin - Fund Services To Front Office

Paul Smyth:
I have to ask, you've made the transition from fund admin, fund services to the front office side of things.

Pete Townsend:

Paul Smyth:
In my, 13 years or so of recruitment, I constantly see people, three or so years into fund accounting, they’ve done Level One CFA, and they want to be a trader. I see it all the time. How do you make that change? How do you know you need to make that change?

Pete Townsend:
You don't. It's almost like listening... It's the Irish mammy thing, right? Which is: you should be a doctor...

Paul Smyth:
Why do we always talk about Irish mammies?!

Pete Townsend:
I don't know. You should be a doctor, you should be an accountant, you should be a lawyer so go do that. Why did I go this path? It's like, "Well, I thought I was going to be a stockbroker. Then, when I started at Fidelity, I thought I was going to be a portfolio manager." What I found was that working with people was far more compelling to me than working with numbers, doing research on technology rather than companies' financials and where things were going. Now, that's led me a different path now obviously. Doing research on technology was far more interesting than doing financial statement analysis and stuff like that.

Pete Townsend:
I kind of found my path through people and technology, right? I had a chat with a good friend of mine from Fidelity, where I started my career about four years ago before I started down this path. He's been in Fidelity for 30 years now nearly on the front office side and deeper, very high up there in the industry. He said, "Pete, I was always envious of you. You're always out there talking to so many different clients and so many different people from different walks of life across the asset management industry." He said he always ever had one client, which was Fidelity.

Pete Townsend:
He's like, "You're just getting so much diversity there." If you're thinking about moving into an asset manager, to go work in their operations, which is what you are qualified to do, you are not a portfolio manager, it's the same. It is the same stuff, dealing with the same problems, but you're getting more people shouting at you because there's so much more at stake with one to 2% management fee and perhaps, on a hedge fund, 20% performance fee.

Paul Smyth:

Pete Townsend:
Right? There's much more pressure. Just if you think that your own self-worth and how you perceive yourself will be increased from moving from the back and middle office to the front office, think again chuck. Okay?

Pete Townsend:
Now, if you find your path and say, "Actually, I'm not a big fan of operational processing. I'm not a big fan of a continuous push for quality improvement, of cost management, of perhaps being on the relationship management side, solving asset managers' problems and helping them and selling." It's all of those types of things, which an outsourcing business does, if I'm not motivated and thrilled by the prospect of doing that long term and leading people towards that, what else am I going to do? What is that really excites me?

Pete Townsend:
I had this chat with somebody years ago who was about to leave BNP, a great guy. I asked him: "Dude, what really motivates you? What do you like?"

Pete Townsend:
He's like, "I love playing football."

Pete Townsend:
I said, "Okay. When do you do that?"

Pete Townsend:
He's like, "After work."

Pete Townsend:
I said, "Are you going to play for Man United?"

Pete Townsend:
He's like, "No."

Pete Townsend:
I said, "Well, how do you bring some of your enjoyment of that into the workplace?" He handed in his resignation, so obviously, BNP Paribas wasn't the place for him to do that. He's now with KB Associates or somewhere cool like that, I think. Great guy. I was trying to challenge him to find his opus. What is it that we might be able to plug into that you really enjoy as an individual, whatever it might be, where we can find some goal symmetry between yourselves, what you want to do as an individual and what motivates and gives you a buzz, and what would actually create some value for the company.

Paul Smyth:
People don't think about that enough.

Pete Townsend:
They don't. They've got to be brave.

Closing Advice & Values

Paul Smyth:
What are your values?

Pete Townsend:
Be assertive, diplomatic and considerate and respectful at the same time, because we're all humans here. You really need to just think about yourself, what is it that you want to be doing? What is going to make you happy? Lisa White, who was on the Money Never Sleeps podcast with us, talked about 15% of employees are actually engaged, fully engaged, in what they do. That number needs to go up. I've spoken with people recently that are being treated terribly, that I've had this chat with, if you don't see an opportunity for you to grow in this organization, move. If you do see one, go for it. Right?

Paul Smyth:
Great. Thanks, Pete, really appreciate your time.

Pete Townsend:
My pleasure.

Connect With Pete

Pete's website is Norio Ventures.

Check out the excellent podcast co-hosted by Pete and Eoin Fitzgerald, Money Never Sleeps.

You can also find Pete on LinkedIn.

Looking For A New Role In Ireland?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Social Media And Your Job Search

Social Media And Your Job Search

July 11 2019

Ever wondered about the impact of your social media activity on your career?

Are there things you should do?

Are there things you shouldn't do?

Today on the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, Laura and Paul walk you through the social media minefield.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


Can Social Media Affect Your Job Search Prospects?

Today we're going to discuss social media and your job search. How can social media affect your job search prospects?

Social media can affect your job search prospects because employers will look at your social media, on your online profile essentially, and that can create a preconceived idea of who you are and what you're going to be like as a person.

We're not here to review the legalities behind it but it is open-source information, so people need to be really aware that whatever they're putting out in their Facebook, their Instagram, their Twitter, potential employers can access that information.

Employers Using Information From Social Media

Let's look at two real-life examples . . .

One was a client was saying that they'd rearranged an interview a couple of times with a candidate, and didn't show up for the third interview on a Monday morning, which was a little bit suspicious. So they went on and did a quick Google search and found this person's social media account - the picture was fairly incriminating. The tagline on their picture was something along the lines of “Sunday sesh!”

Not showing up for a 9 o'clock interview on a Monday, after a Sunday ‘sesh’ is probably not the best idea.

The employer found that online and clearly that was the end of the road for that person.

Another example, more around someone who was in a company at the time and was making negative comments on social media about the company.

That person was let go.

Again, we don’t advise on the legal side, but something to be really careful of and mindful of when posting on social media.

What Do Employers Like To See On Social Media?

We need to distinguish between social media in general and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is professional media, and it clearly should be treated in a similar way, but it is more of a professional forum.

Employers aren’t necessarily looking at social media for positives although, of course, there could be positives certainly taken from it.

A lot of businesses that we work with now are very involved in things like CSR, corporate social responsibility.


Employers want to see well-rounded people coming in - people who aren't just obsessed with work who have a life outside of work. People with hobbies and interests and so on.

If you do volunteer work or if you're into any charity work or if you have any particular hobbies, things like that are quite good to share.

It's all about building up a profile of a potential employee.

Think about it yourself. What would you like to see if you were hiring someone? That's the type of stuff that employers would like to see on social media.

LinkedIn Isn’t Facebook

LinkedIn is a professional social media platform but people are getting a little bit more unprofessional with some of the posts. Things you see on LinkedIn are something you expect to see on Facebook instead.

Keep your LinkedIn feed professional and put your personal stuff up on your Facebook or Instagram.

Keep it separate.

Auditing Your Social Media

Wondering what to do before you start your next job search? Should you audit your social media accounts?

Put simply, it's no harm have a quick scan through.

Employers are not going to sit there and go through years and years and years of your posts.

If you posted something silly when you were younger, it’s not the end of the world.

If the silly post is recent, it's not a great look. Any recent posts that you think could be a little bit risky or have any sort of adverse effect, it's worth having a think about it.

If you are looking at the job market and you want to build up a professional profile and professional image, do try to be proactive around what you post on LinkedIn.

Creating an image is important. All the social media content is out there online. Take time to think about, "How do I want to come across, how do I want to be perceived?"

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Apply Directly Or Via A Recruitment Consultancy?

Apply Directly Or Via A Recruitment Consultancy?

July 04 2019

Ever wondered whether you should apply to a job directly or via a recruitment firm?

Sure, we lean a particular way on this but, today on the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, Laura and Paul will give you their honest opinions and give you some tips to consider either way.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

Today we're going to discuss working with recruitment firms.

One question that probably comes to people's mind all the time is, "Should I apply directly or apply to a recruitment firm?" 

Ok, clearly we’re biased 😊 

Obviously, we think everyone should apply through recruitment agencies and never apply directly ever!

Even if you know the person. 

Ok, we’re joking there!

But generally, there are a few different things to think about. 

If you know someone and you have a direct relationship with someone in a company, that's always the best way to go.

Where a recruitment consultancy like us are able to help is in our pre-existing, direct relationships with businesses. 

Whether that's through HR, an in-house recruitment team, hiring managers, business owners, whatever it is; we have those contacts, we have those connections.

We also make sure that your CV is seen by the right people. We can talk to them on your behalf. We can promote you. 

If we have decided to work with you on a particular role, we'll be doing our very best to get you in front of our client.

There certainly are advantages to going through a recruitment firm. 

As we said at the very start, like if you know someone, that is the best way to go.

Another area where a recruitment consultancy can add value is at the end when it comes to negotiation. #A lot of people get quite uncomfortable when it comes to negotiating salaries - that's something we do on a daily basis. It's very familiar to us.

We'll also have more information than you'd probably be able to get on the outside. We'll probably have had at least a call or a meeting with the client to really understand the roles. We'd be able to give you the inside track in terms of what they're really looking for and what they're going to be probing at interview. 

Certainly, we try to give candidates as much information as possible before they start a job search process. We give as many resources as we can to help people prepare properly. We've already had a conversation with the hiring manager or had people go through the process so we have a good understanding of the hiring manager, the team, and the culture. 

Also, because we advise people on a daily basis, we know how to properly help people prepare for the interview and track the process.

Choosing The Right Recruitment Consultancy

When it comes to choosing the right recruitment consultancy for you, there are financial services industry specialist firms like Top Tier Recruitment, and then there a generalist firms. 

We are a specialist firm. 

Financial services and Fintech is 99% of what we do. 

We know the companies, we know the roles, etc. 

As a candidate, you’d probably want to have conversed with consultants who knows and understands what you do, know, and who understood the industry.

We know the vast majority of companies, roles, events, and so on.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Special Guest Interview: Vessy Tasheva of Vessy.com

Special Guest Interview: Vessy Tasheva of Vessy.com

June 26 2019

For a special edition of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, Laura and Paul spoke with Vessy Tasheva of Vessy.com about how we can make the Irish financial services industry a more diverse and inclusive place to work.


Special Guest Interview: Vessy Tasheva

Vessy Tasheva is a Diversity & Inclusion speaker, advocate, consultant, and Founder of the D&I support platform, Vessy.com.

Vessy talked about:

  • Her background and her work.
  • Vessy's take on the state of Diversity & Inclusion in Ireland at the moment.
  • Vessy's advice to employers in the Irish financial services industry on what they can do to improve diversity & inclusion in their companies.
  • The barriers to achieving full diversity & inclusion.
  • What is Vessy.com and how it works.

Connect With Vessy

Vessy's website is Vessy.com.

Vessy is also active on LinkedIn every week - follow Vessy on LinkedIn.

Looking For A New Role In Ireland?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


How (And Why) To Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile

How (And Why) To Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile

June 13 2019

If you've applied for a job or been asked in for an interview in the last few years, the chances are good that your potential employer will take a look at your LinkedIn profile.

Here's Laura & Paul on the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, discussing why and how to optimise your LinkedIn profile.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


Overview - How To Write A Good LinkedIn Profile

To start with an overview, what are you trying to achieve when optimising your profile?

You should be considering a few things when you're optimising your LinkedIn profile.

One is if you are actively on your job search and you're out there looking, important to have your LinkedIn profile optimized because potential employers will check. Nearly everyone looks at a LinkedIn profile before they interview you. If they're looking at your CV, if you've made it from the long list to shortlist stage, you can be pretty certain someone's going to look at your LinkedIn profile. It needs to be up to date. It needs to be relevant, needs to match your CV. Not as much detail, but we can talk about that later. Generally, if you're proactively looking, employers will check so really important from that perspective.

If you're passively interested in looking at the market, then recruiters will find you. Companies who have in-house teams or HR who can use LinkedIn and stuff, they'll be able to find you. It's a good way to keep yourself in the market without being actively engaged, in terms of applying for jobs. The other thing would be outside of just recruitment, people look at LinkedIn profiles all the time for all sorts of different reasons.

If you were looking to be very proactive in your job search and you were thinking about networking and how to use your network, while you're connecting with your network, it's good to have your LinkedIn profile up to date.

Your LinkedIn profile

Being proactive means employers will see a complete and a good LinkedIn profile.

If you're being reactive in a job search, you'll be found for jobs you want to be found for or are suitable for.

Over the last couple of years, people have gotten much better optimizing their LinkedIn profile which is great.

What Changes Should You Make To Your LinkedIn Profile?

There are a few changes you should consider.

One is your picture - make sure your picture is professional. Make sure it's not you out having a few drinks, it's not Facebook basically or Twitter or Instagram. It's a professional picture. It doesn't need to be suit and tie, but it's professional so you're presentable. Make sure the heading is right and all of your headings and job titles are correct and accurate.

The summary section is really important. They're the three to five line paragraph at the very start of the profile where it tells you a little bit about what you're doing or, really, what you're looking for is the most important thing. In terms of detail, often asked about how much detail do you go into around roles? It's not quite as much as you'd have in a CV, but it's enough that you'd be able to be found for certain things and enough to give people a good flavor of what you've done.

Keywords are important to include them in your profile. The basic tenets of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) have not changed. Repeat the keywords that you want to be found for as many times as you can in your LinkedIn profile, titles, sub-headings, summaries, job summaries, and so on.

The reason why you do it is when we search, as recruiters when we search for people, we don't just search job titles. It's very often the first thing that we look at. We also search for keywords, which searches your entire CV. We'd search for skills. We'd search recommendations sometimes if it's a bit more senior maybe. We search for keywords so if the keywords aren't there, you won't be found. Simple as that.

If you are a fund accountant and you want to be found for fund accounting roles, you make sure fund accounting or fund accountant is in your LinkedIn profile. If you are looking for something in the blockchain space, make sure blockchain is in your LinkedIn profile.

Essentially, think about what you want to be found for and make sure that you've thought about not just the internal titles within where you work at the minute but what that could be called externally, and repeat it all the way through your LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn has become more detailed over the years. It still has the percentage complete bit, so make sure you're up in the 90s. If you can't fully complete it, it's not the end of the world, but should be as complete as possible. That means completing things like skills. People often forget about the skills or whatever.

Make sure it's complete. Very often, we see people who are five years in the same role in a large company at the same level. If you do progress and you are promoted or you move into a different role or your role changes or anything like that, make sure it's updated.

Make sure skills are included. It's a great way to build up your potential for being found.

If you're in a middle office role, for example, you could be doing anything. You could be doing anything around the trade lifecycle. You could be doing performance, you could be doing anything along those lines. The skills and summaries are really good ways to include all those types of keywords.

Finally, for the technology piece, getting the technologies that you have worked on and are working with are really important. Keep it up to date. It doesn't need to be done every month but every six months, every 12 months, or similar, is a good way to do it.

Bonus Tip - Download Your LinkedIn Profile As A CV

There's one more handy thing you can do on LinkedIn.

If you go into someone's profile and click on More and then save as PDF, it creates a downloadable CV for you. If you are stuck for a CV, if you're away or on the road, you can easily get a recruiter to create your CV for you instead of having to search around and find an old copy.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Paul Smyth’s Diversity & Inclusion Speech At FuSIoN (Financial Services Inclusion Network)

Paul Smyth’s Diversity & Inclusion Speech At FuSIoN (Financial Services Inclusion Network)

June 05 2019

FuSIoN (Financial Services Inclusion Network) and Top Tier Recruitment recently welcomed members of Ireland's financial services & Fintech industry to an evening of networking and lively discussion around the topic: 

Inclusive Ireland - A Destination of Choice for Financial Services & Fintech Professionals.

The event was hosted by State Street at their Irish headquarters.

Paul Smyth from Top Tier Recruitment gave the opening address at the FuSIoN (Financial Services Inclusion Network) event with an exploration of the concept of 'safety' and how it applies to financial services companies in Ireland seeking to improve their diversity & inclusion.

Listen to Paul's speech via the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast or read the notes below . . .



Paul Smyth's Diversity & Inclusion Speech At FuSIoN (Financial Services Inclusion Network)

I am delighted to have been asked to speak here tonight. For those of you who don’t know me, I am MD of Top Tier Recruitment. Myself and my wife set up the business 4 years ago and we are sector specialists recruiting across all areas of Financial Services and FinTech.

I have worked in recruitment for 12 years, predominantly in FS and actually spent two years great years with State Street where I ultimately managed recruitment for Ireland, Poland, South Africa and a couple of other smaller locations – it was a real eye opener not only to in house recruitment but to a global firm and, getting a very practical appreciation of different cultures.

I would have worked in Krakow for around 7 months which is actually where I met Patrick for the first time and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his efforts here tonight and for inviting me to be part of it.

Building an inclusive business, an inclusive culture, is a challenge.

Our clients are still looking for answers; wanting to know what others are doing; still feeling like whatever has been done, is not enough.

We wanted to do something practical to help our clients do more in this space so we simply posed the question ‘How do we make the Irish FS and FinTech industries more inclusive and more diverse?”.

Respondents included growing Irish FinTechs like AQM and Leveris, established firms like BOI, recent Brexit entrants like Pantheon Ventures, experts including Mark Fenton who will be on our panel shortly and, of course, FuSIoN, represented by Kate Brady in our report. 

Some spoke about the commercial benefits of having a more inclusive company. Leading by example was another theme and the fact that any initiatives need to be ‘lived’ and built on  authentic values. 

The idea of Inclusivity leading to diversity. And diversity not just in terms of gender, sexuality, race, etc. but of thought. After all, group think was pointed out as one of the major contributors to the financial crisis in the Nyberg report. 

We also have some practical suggestions around work life balance, flexible work arrangements etc., ensuring there are career paths for ‘women in tech’ for example. Encouraging employee engagement and feedback, raising awareness that there is an issue here was also a theme. 

Feedback to asking people to contribute was positive overall but there was challenge.

Some businesses could not contribute.

It was too sensitive a topic; communications couldn’t or wouldn’t sign off; the felt there were not where they needed to be to contribute.

I was curious about what caused this. To me, it seemed like a good opportunity for companies to talk about what you were doing, an opportunity to share knowledge for the common good.

My gut feeling is that it comes back to safety. Is it safe to try and get it wrong? Is it ‘safe’ to not know the answers? Is it ‘safe’ to talk about it even?

Is it ‘safe’ to be who you are, to bring your whole self to work? Are we so scared, as a culture, as an industry, of offending - without intent - that we choose to say nothing and therefore, do less than we could?

Is it safe enough to meet this challenge? 

I have am mid way through a course to become a qualified ICF coach and we was watching a video of a tennis pro turned coach called Tim Galloway. Some of you may have heard of him and his book, the inner game of tennis. Essentially it suggests that we all have it in us to play tennis just like we learned how to walk – trial and error. 

He makes the point that you were not ‘coached’ on how to walk. You probably fell down a lot, got frustrated but, tried again until you could. Nobody was there explaining the technicalities of how to walk but provided a safe environment to learn in. You were encouraged, given support etc. It was safe enough for you to overcome the challenge.

The point being, to overcome a large challenge, there needs to be enough safety otherwise, the challenge becomes a block and can lead to inertia.

D&I is a challenge!

If creating an inclusive environment was straight forward, we would have done it.

There may not even be a need for a group life FuSIoN or other groups. 

Why is it a challenge? What is it about FS specifically that it seems to be a larger challenge than for other industries? 

To help answer these questions, we need to ask AND we need to have environments which are SAFE enough to allow those questions to be asked and answered. On the other side, there must be enough safety for people to be themselves and answer these questions without fear of discrimination – it does somehow seem chicken and egg. 

As a society, we are becoming more open. 

Recent referendums prove that we are more open and also capable of change.

I believe it shows that a new generation are more motived to make change happen and want to live in a more inclusive culture. They, we, believe in choice, freedom of identity, change and, importantly for this specific challenge, are empowered to challenge safely. This generation, in my opinion, also believe that two opinions can coexist. That you don’t need to ‘confirm’. This generation want to be themselves.

We need to embrace this.

We have a unique opportunity with Brexit to attract people to Ireland who no longer feel they are in an inclusive environment in London or the UK.

Not just Irish coming home but non UK EU nationals who feel displaced.

Aside from just Brexit, we are at full employment. We see it more and more in the non technology side of our business but in technology, we often have to look outside of Ireland for key skills.

There are simply not enough people with the skills in Ireland to meet the demand.

But, the good news, is that we are able this challenge.

In our business, have found that with being able to put the time into proactively sourcing and pipelining from outside of Ireland, people are ready, willing and able to move here. And, not just move, but settle very quickly. I believe this is because as a society as a whole, we are open, welcoming, and an easy place to live and work regardless of your background; your gender; your sexual preference; etc.

I believe we have it in us as an industry to meet this challenge but that it fundamentally requires safety to overcome. To do this, I believe we need to create safe environments to allow all staff to be open and honest about what the real and perceived challenges are because I do think the positive intent, becoming more inclusive and diverse, is there.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Special Guest Interview: Sarah Johnston Of BriefcaseCoach.com

Special Guest Interview: Sarah Johnston Of BriefcaseCoach.com

May 29 2019

For a special edition of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, Laura and Paul spoke with Sarah Johnston of Briefcase Coach about how she helps high performers land amazing jobs thanks to her services as an interview coach, executive resume writer, LinkedIn Branding expert, and Career Coach.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


Special Guest Interview: Sarah Johnston Of Briefcase Coach

Sarah is a former corporate recruiter who has recruited across all industries, specifically healthcare and financial services.

Two and a half years ago, Sarah made a career pivot and started her own job search coaching business where she helps high achievers land jobs that they really like. She helps high achieving professionals across different industries position themselves and present themselves well on paper and in branded documents so that they can land the jobs that they really want.

Advice for people who want to make a change

The first step, before you can start applying for jobs online, or having conversations with people, is to get crystal clear on what you want to do and what strengths and differentiators you bring to the table. Without knowing where you want to go, it's hard for people to help you and get behind you and make introductions for you.

Part of having a successful job search is having a strategy, and target companies, and leveraging the network that you have. So, you have to give people a starting place to be able to help you.

Research Jobs

The research phase of a job search is often so overlooked and undervalued, but it's the most important part of the job search strategy, and so it's worth taking the time to really research your options.

Who are the companies that hire people like you?

Who are the decision makers at those companies?

Where do your skillsets align and how can you meet the pain points of those jobs?

You could spend 60% of your time researching and it would be time well spent before just jumping onto the ATS systems and applying for jobs that maybe aren't a good fit for you.

When you've found an interesting role, look at the company and look at all the blog posts that the company has been on social medial or online, and the type of company culture that they have.

Look at your network. See if you know anybody that works there or anybody who knows someone that works in that company, and see if you can get some intel on that company or the person that you're interviewing with.

If you have a former colleague who knows the person you're interviewing with, it would be helpful to know if that person is an analytical person, then you can take your answers and really focus them around, that would appeal to the way that they think and the way that they ask questions, so leveraging your network there could be really helpful.

How To Answer The 'Tell Me About Yourself' Question

Sarah teaches a formula called 'Passion, Past, & Present' for this question. Start with a hook. People resonate well with stories and they like to connect with you. Give them a little glimmer of your past in two sentences, that can hook them into why you're passionate about this subject.

That can be something like why you choose to go into this field, or the moment that you knew you were made for this career, or one of your career highlights that really demonstrates exemplary behavior.

Start with a passion, and then briefly describe your past, and make sure that you're picking relevant work history that addresses some of the pain points of the job description.

You don't want to go all the way back to your first job in college when you were working at the cafeteria.

Just select two or three highlights from your past work experience that complements the job that you're interviewing for, then hit them with what you are doing in the present, what role you're currently in, and the value that you're bringing to the organisation.

Finally, wrap up the answer with, with them. With them is a sales term that you may know, what's in it for me. That's what the person interviewing you is thinking, like why would this person want this job? And so, you could say something like, "I love my current role right now. I'm doing x, y, and z, but when I got the call to interview for this position, this role really resonated with me because it would allow me to do more of x, y, and z, strategy or whatever about the role is appealing."

Let them know that you see yourself in this role, that you're excited about this position, and it offers something that you're not getting currently in your job.

Passion, past, present is the formula.

It's important that you make sure your answer is concise, and no more than two minutes long, ideally, 90 seconds would be great.

Give them the highlights and let them ask you questions for more information later on in the interview. You just want to tease them a little bit so that their interest is piqued and right off the get-go they can see why you're a good fit for this role, because you maybe addressed a couple of pain points in the job description.

How To Get Get Over Interview Nerves?

Preparation is absolutely key.

It's helpful to write out 15 to 20 different scenarios where you've exhibited positive behaviors.

Writing things out can be really helpful in helping practice and memorise.

Think about opportunities where you demonstrated positive leadership skills, customer service, you've managed effectively, you've come up with creative solutions to problems, and think of those types of stories, so that no matter what question you're asked, you have a story that you've already pre-thought out that you can bring up and bring to the table.

The other thing is, is just knowing you resonate really well, being able to talk about the results that you have had over your career that you bring to the table.

At the high level, at the senior level, people resonate with results, and being able to express those in an interview is helpful.

Before you go into the interview, you need to give yourself some time to decompress and know that you've done an enormous amount of preparation to get to that point.

In the hour before you go into the interview, maybe do yoga, sit and listen to your favorite music in the car with a cup of coffee, whatever it is, do something to decompress so you're not just overly anxious about it in the car ride on the way over.

Connect With Sarah

Sarah's website is BriefcaseCoach.com.

Sarah is also active with job search tips on LinkedIn every week - follow Sarah on LinkedIn.

Looking For A New Role In Ireland?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


How To Answer Behavioural Interview Questions

How To Answer Behavioural Interview Questions

May 14 2019

Many businesses use behavioural interviews to assess the skills, knowledge, and values of potential new employees.

If you joined Laura & Paul for the recent episode of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, you would have heard them discussing exactly what is behavioural interviewing and how best to answer the questions you'll be asked.

Have a listen to the episode on how to answer behavioural interview questions . . .

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


How To Answer Behavioural Interview Questions

Behavioural interview questions are questions that are designed to explore competencies in the candidate.

These competencies and strengths can include the 'softer' skills such as: how you work under pressure, your communication skills, and your ability to work as part of a team.

They're kind of the types of things that are hard to write down on paper or to demonstrate on paper. It's the kind of thing found at the end of your CV. You say you've got communication skills or attention to detail but how do you prove it?

Behavioural interview questions are designed to bring that out and to give you the opportunity to demonstrate those types of competencies. 

The STAR Method

The STAR method is definitely the best way to go about answering those types of questions. It's a good way to structure any answers to interview questions.

The idea behind the STAR method (S.T.A.R) is to ask for a specific Situation, you describe a Task (which is the goal you're working towards), the Actions that you took, and then the Results.

Your answer needs to be specific. It needs to be about an actual task, and I would really advise people not to make something up because you'll get caught somewhere along the way.

It gives you the opportunity to give some thought to a few different answers to questions. You'll find that a lot of situations fit the same competencies. 

For example, let's say that you're in a sales role and you want to break into a new industry or sector. That's your situation, you want to break into a brand new sector. The tasks might be establishing a brand new client base and generating revenue. Your actions would be around researching that industry, contacting industry bodies, speaking with people in your network, and generally just generating a target list. Then you could break it into small, medium, and large companies, and then start with approaching, maybe with an email marketing campaign or cold calls, whatever it is. The result could be that you signed up 10 new clients in the first three months, leading to X revenue and a strong pipeline.

The trick with the STAR method or a lot of interview questions when you're asked is that you give enough information that the interviewers can understand what was going on but that leave enough room for follow-up questions.

It's a little like a CV. You want to make sure there's enough on it to get you in the door but you don't want to give everything away.

You want to give yourself the opportunity to be asked about the situation and sell your successes in more detail. 

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


The Impact Of Brexit On The Irish Jobs Market

The Impact Of Brexit On The Irish Jobs Market

May 07 2019

The Brexit saga continues.

If you joined Laura & Paul for the recent episode of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, you would have heard them discussing how Brexit impacts upon the Irish jobs market and how you should react.

Have a listen to the episode and then let's take a look at some of the key questions . . .



Brexit's Impact On The Irish Jobs Market

The obvious impact that people have seen is an increase in demand for talent, so I think three sectors maybe in particular, insurance, legal, the fund management side and e-money payments institutions all have very definite reasons to be setting up over here. New companies setting up clearly brings new jobs with it, so you're seeing an increase in demand, in terms of the jobs market and the supply of jobs is increasing.

The other impact that people don't think about quite as much is the increase in the supply of talent. Really, two markets I suppose, and actually just to go back a bit to put it in context, Ireland's economy clearly has been doing well over the past few years. Even pre-talk of Brexit, Ireland's economy was improving from a low, as everyone knows. Certainly, we've seen a lot more Irish looking to come back and a lot more interest in Ireland as a location. Brexit really poured fuel on that fire, I suppose. What we expected when the Brexit vote happened and what we saw absolutely was Irish in the UK looking to come home. It was an absolute no brainer, it was bound to happen.

What we probably didn't see as much of, and in hindsight should have thought about it a bit more and are seeing a lot more now, is non-UK EU nationals living in the UK, in London, or wherever else, who no longer really want to be there because of Brexit. As much about uncertainty as just in terms of it was a big cultural vote, I suppose, and there was a lot of stuff about that. The two big things that we've seen have been clearly an increase in demand, in terms of people looking to hire and that's really been Q3, Q4 of last year and, obviously, Q1 of this year has been very busy. But there has been an increase in the supply of talent with specialist skills in particular.

Will there be an impact on specialist role salaries?

Yes. On specialist roles definitely. If you're setting up, normally you're going to be looking for something to do with risk or compliance, or something to satisfy a CBI requirement. The hurdles have increased for that so boots on the ground and people in new setups, the requirements for actual numbers of people there have increased. Normally you're looking at risk and compliance as the two main areas. A lot of people are looking for people with experience dealing with the Central Bank in Ireland and there is only a finite number of those people. So certainly it is having an impact on salaries and salaries are increasing in those areas.

But some clients have looked outside of that and haven't seen that as an absolute requirement. Then you can start to look at other talent pools, so people who are moving over for different reasons, Brexit related and otherwise, don't necessarily have CBI experience but do have strong compliance and regulatory experience across the EU and regulations are essentially kind of harmonized in an awful lot of sectors anyway. It is certainly pushing up salaries for some, but I do think there's an opportunity there to look outside of people with that specific experience.

But the other thing would be the specialist skills, whereas in the past if a client was setting up a new function that wasn't prevalent in Ireland or anything like that then they'd maybe have to look at getting someone who was 50%, 60% of what they were looking for, ideally on the spec. Whereas now, the opportunity is there to import talent, almost. Those roles are a lot more competitive than they used to be.

We are at full employment now, so there is a bit of a perception out there that you go for an interview and you can walk into a job.

It's not really like that. It's not a case of there are only one or two applicants for a job and that's it, regardless of what you hear in the news or what people are saying. Candidates, job seekers in particular, need to be very aware of that. In our experience, that's just not the case. With very, very few exceptions and particularly in those specialist roles, they're specialist for a reason because they need specialist skills. If you're in risk or compliance or any of those particularly hot areas it's not a given that because you have an interview you're going to get a job, you need to put the work in, you need to listen to our podcasts about interview prep and whatever else. Yeah, you're not walking into something just because we're at full employment and Brexit is driving up demand. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few months with this extension that's happened. But no, it is still really, really competitive and people need to bear that in mind.


How To Manage Your Job Search

How To Manage Your Job Search

May 02 2019

In this helpful episode of the 'Your Pursuit Of Happiness' podcast, Laura & Paul help you manage your job search so you can get the career you want.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


It Starts With Preparation

First, make sure you've done all the prep work. You've thought about what you want to do, the type of role, the level that you want to go in, and so on. Have an end goal in mind in terms of career.

Then, where do you start? What do you need to think about in advance? Where you want to end up? Narrow it down and be specific. Be clear on the type of company that you want to get involved with. Create a target list of those companies. Something that works really well, and not everybody is doing it, is creating job alerts. So, you can create them from the likes of LinkedIn, Indeed, and any other job boards that you use. They're just a really handy way to know what's going on in the market.

As part of your preparation, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. We always recommend that candidates to treat their LinkedIn profile as their CV.

Tailor your CV for each role. You don't have to rejig the whole thing, it can be as simple as moving bullet points from the bottom to the top of a paragraph, or changing a personal profile, or whatever, just to highlight the things that are most relevant.

Track Your Applications

Next, look at tracking.

Track the applications that you're sending.

Make sure and don't apply for absolutely everything. Be quite selective about who you apply to.

Some people have a perception that if they apply directly, and then if they apply through a recruitment consultancy again, that it will increase their chances of actually getting an interview. That's not the case at all. Just make sure that you're applying to a company or a specific role just once. Employers don’t want to see multiple applications coming from different sources for the same role. It just doesn't look organised. It looks as if it's a scattergun approach; that you haven't really thought about what you want to do.

Follow Companies

Another thing to do is, apart from looking at the company's own website to see what opportunities are available, is to set up Google alerts for companies, specifically. You can set them up as one big, long, Boolean search stream or set them up individually. It's as simple as typing a company's name into Google, and I think an option comes up that just says, "Save alerts." Or something like that. But just a handy way to be kept informed. If you decide you want to work in a Brexit setup operation in Ireland (something that's topical at the moment), type in something like, ‘Brexit firms Ireland’ or something along those lines. You’ll get daily news alerts so you could be early to the party when a new firm is setting up over here.

Commit To It

If you've decided you want to go on a job search, or you're looking for a new role, you need to commit to it. You’ll need to think about the time it's going to take, and not just doing up your CV, or tailoring your CV for individual jobs, but you're going to need to take time out for interviews. Most clients that we work with, reasonably enough, will want to see people during kind of normal office hours. Some of them will accommodate where they can, but typically, you're going to need to take time out so you're going to have to leave work a bit earlier, or get an extra lunch break, or have a ‘dentist appointment’, or something along those lines to make it.

Go into it with a clear end goal in mind. Know the salary that you want to achieve, know what kind of work you want to get involved in, and so on.

Obviously, there are going to be times where you have to leave, where there's something going on that forces you to leave, but that's never the preferred mindset to approach a career search. Having an end goal in mind is always important.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

Check out our podcast and, if there's ever anything that you would like discussed, feel free to get in touch, info@ttrmail.com.


Inclusive Ireland - Event For Financial Services & FinTech Professionals

Inclusive Ireland - Event For Financial Services & FinTech Professionals

April 25 2019

FuSIoN (Financial Services Inclusion Network) and Top Tier Recruitment welcome members of Ireland's financial services & Fintech industry to an evening of networking and lively discussion around the topic: 

Inclusive Ireland - A Destination of Choice for Financial Services & Fintech Professionals.


Panellists include:

  • Karoline Keane (Director, Product Structuring, MAN Investments)
  • Mark Fenton (Founder of MASF.ie)
  • Paul Sweetman (Director, Financial Services, IBEC)
  • Vessy Tasheva (Founder of Vessy.com)
  • Patrick Ryan (Learning Consultant, State Street)
  • Paul Smyth (Managing Director, Top Tier Recruitment)
  • Andrea Dermody (EMEA Lead Diversity & Inclusion, State Street)

FuSIoN and Top Tier Recruitment would like to thank State Street for hosting the event at their Irish headquarters.

Diversity & Inclusion Guide

Download the Diversity & Inclusion Guide for the Irish financial services & Fintech industry from here.

Date & Location

Thursday 9 May 2019 from 6pm to 8:30.


State Street International (Ireland)
78 Sir John Rogerson's Quay
Dublin 2

(Map link).

Get Your Free Ticket

Places are already filling up fast so get your free ticket now.

Click here for tickets



Employer Profile: AQMetrics

Employer Profile: AQMetrics

April 23 2019

In this recent episode of the 'Your Pursuit Of Happiness' podcast, Paul talks with Claire Savage (COO) and Lorraine Lyons (Senior Business Development) from Irish financial services success story, AQMetrics, to learn a little about the company's story and to discuss new opportunities opening up at the rapidly-growing Fintech.



The Story Behind AQMetrics

AQMetrics was founded in 2012, and at the very heart of the company they are a software company, servicing the financial services industry.

The company was born out of the strong market need to create a single consolidated, one-stop platform to provide risk monitoring and regulatory reporting services to regulated financial institutions.

The founding team had spent many years in FinTech and RegTech (although it wasn't called that then) developing solutions for large banks.

The core with AQMetrics was to move away from that historic model of providing on-premise software and to provide a true cloud solution with a single build and source of data for risk and regulatory reporting for regulated financial services firms.

Rapid Change In The Regulatory Environment

RegTech is a relatively new area. Obviously an awful lot of change in terms of the regulatory environment, would you see that as something that will continue or do you think we're at a stage now, in terms of regulation where it's stabilizing a little bit?

The feedback from AQMetrics’ client firms is that there's been a full decade of reform and it's been pretty onerous for these firms, but now there a slight pause in the amount of regulations, which are coming down the line, leading to optimisation of these RegTech solutions.

This means that anyone who put in tactical solutions over the last 10 years is now looking to be more strategic.

They're pausing to catch their breath, and they're definitely optimising what they have and consolidation.

RegTech's here to stay for sure, it's just the onslaught of new regulations is somewhat slowing down.

A Holistic Approach To Regulation and Risk.

AQMetrics are somewhat unique in that they are double-regulated.

They are regulated in Europe under ESMA and can passport throughout Europe.

Due to Brexit, once the UK leaves the EU, they've also been authorized now by the FCA in the UK.

The company understands effectively what it's like and what's required to operate as a regulated firm.

Also, they became regulated in order to offer all risk management and reporting services to their clients, including those ones which require clients to have a regulation status.

It was to ensure they had that breadth and that AQMetrics could provide an automated service across all regulations and markets, that there weren't any jurisdictions or boundaries to their software.

AQMetrics’ Clients

AQMetrics have a truly global client base.

They have clients in the United States, including a number of very large US financial institutions. Indeed, two of the top world's largest fund administrators are clients of AQMetrics.

Then, obviously, they have a very solid European base, given their headquarters are in Europe and a lot of their early clients are based in Europe.

The company is also working with a number of clients starting to look at Asian regulations, particularly coming out Singapore and Japan.

Working At AQMetrics

Many of their team were drawn to AQMetrics by the positive culture and by what the company was building for the financial services ecosystem. Both the team spirit and the company values are aligned, where everyone has the same vision and they're working towards the same mission.

For example, they recently ran internally a company stand-up, where every member of the team across all of the different functions, from technology to the engineering team, sales, customer success, and the regulatory reporting team, all talked about their role or mission, their vision, and their values at AQMetrics. Everyone found it really valuable to hear from all of the functions, to reinforce that they're all traveling in the same direction. It really showed the positive team culture and comradery.

The core company values are customer happiness, trust, ownership, and professionalism.

A number of team members on the customer success team have come from financial institutions very similar to client companies, as opposed to all coming from software firms. The team is a blend team which merges industry experience and funds domain experience - many have worked in some of the largest financial institutions in the world.

It was very important that the company had that embedded knowledge within the team.

French-Speaking Sales Roles At AQMetrics

AQMetrics is looking for people with native or fluent French and English.

There is a very flat structure in AQMetrics and within the sales team.

New sales team members would sit working alongside Lorraine and her colleagues.

There will be sales team members both in Dublin and in London.

The sales team are very much actively supported by the customer success team who have the deep embedded knowledge.

It’s not a big organisation with multiple tiers of hierarchy, it's a small team currently based in Dublin and London but with a view to expanding throughout Europe with the upcoming opening of the new French office.

Until now, AQMetrics been largely driven by their core sales team members. In order to expand to new markets the company needs to bring people with new language skills.

It also needs to bring more people in so that a lot of the strategic relationships and the pipeline opportunities that exist can be fully supported. AQMetrics is finding itself in a fortunate situation where it is getting a lot of referrals from existing clients but the team is also very conscious that they need to further develop the markets they’re going into. The opportunity has come because there's so much opportunity in existing markets but the team also want to develop into new markets.

What Does Success Look Like For Someone Joining AQMetrics In A Sales Role?

What's really important for all sales roles is not just sending the best emails and generating leads and making the calls, there's also a number of other ways that you can do that, and there's great support structure within the team at AQMetrics.

The sales team have great access to leadership and also the ability to have a technical coach to learn about the regulations and the products offered by AQMetrics.

That's priority number one - knowing your products when you're going out to market.

Being based in Maynooth and having everyone around you, it’s great, as someone in frontline sales, to have all the support resources directly beside you or across the hall, rather than in a different building or different country like you’ll find in much larger organisations. It strengthens the team when everyone is nearby and closely aligned with the culture of the organisation.

The Sales Cycle

Typically, depending on the customer, there's quite a number of customers that use AQMetrics, from asset service providers, to asset managers, to the larger hedge funds. Depending on the customer, where they're at in the sales cycle and the buying process, the sales cycle can vary.

There have been some customers, particularly where they're client referrals,  where the sales cycle can be as short as one or two short phone calls. Some of the smaller hedge funds can be closed that quickly.

Where you're dealing with the world's largest banks, you need to go through their third-party procurement phase, which can take a bit longer, but AQMetrics have been equally successful in navigating those larger process and their third-party risk management elements.

AQMetrics are fortunate in that they are not just selling to large enterprises. While large enterprises are target sales opportunities for AQMetrics, they are selling to both large enterprises and direct to the asset managers themselves.

What Are AQMetrics Looking For In These Sales Roles?

Better qualified leads produce better value and movement through the sales pipeline. Hiring great SDRs with the ability to grow within the company and move towards other roles over time is important.

It's the ability to take ownership as well of the end to end sales process. The company doesn't have a very formal separate insides sales structure, where one group is generating leads and the other group is closing leads. For this level and for this role they'd like to see candidates who can take ownership for the end-to-end lifecycle. Generate leads, effectively inform those leads of the value of AQMetrics, and take them through the sales lifecycle.

Everything is fully documented in the sales playbook and there is lots of support.

Being coachable and having a curiosity for the market and a passion for the product and the sales itself is really important.

Ownership is very close to the team’s hearts and it's one of the company values that people are actively encouraged to take ownership and to drive themselves onwards. The leaders are there to support you and to provide what you need along the way.

What AQMetrics doesn’t want is for people to feel restricted or that they don't have an opportunity to develop.

You’ll need a certain amount of resilience to go and work with a scaling company like AQMetrics but we think the benefits that you get from being able to take ownership of your opportunities will lead to greater success for you and the company.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of AQMetrics' roles, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

You can contact us at aqm@ttrmail.com or call (01) 564 9602. 


Career Planning Tips

Career Planning Tips

April 16 2019

In this helpful episode of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, Laura & Paul share their tips and advice on how to achieve the career you want and deserve.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


Today we're going to look at discussing around career development, specifically career planning tips for a certain type of role that you want to get into.

We did a blog not so long ago on how to land your dream job, and there were four specific areas that we covered: up-skilling and educating yourself, enhancing your digital presence, making a list of what's important to you in your career, and finally then just registering with a trusted recruitment agency.

Should You Do An MBA (Or A Masters In Your Field)? 

It depends on what your role is and if there are requirements for your role or not on the technical side.

If, for example, you’re moving towards investment management, maybe it's a CFA, maybe it's a CII exam or something along those lines. If it's compliance, there's a lot out there, same goes for project management. There are definitely skills that are particularly important for specific roles, so education is important.

On the other side of it is you can get caught up in books and online learning.

Sometimes it's as important to get out there a little bit more and to network, to go to events.

For example, we support and attend the Block-W, Women in Blockchain events.

Get yourself out there and educate yourself on an ongoing basis.

Enhance Your Digital Presence

The next thing is: enhancing your digital presence. Treat your LinkedIn profile as your CV. People still struggle a little bit on this. You could be missing out on a massive number of opportunities because you don't have certain skills or keywords that you need to be found for on your LinkedIn profile. Really treat it as your CV, and please don't put up a picture of your holding a pint at the last 30th party that you went to. It needs to be professional - it is on a professional networking site.

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, it's very, simple. Repeat the title of the job that you want as many different times as you can because recruiters search job titles and skills, and if it isn't there, you won't be found. If you want to be found for a particular role and you know it, get it in your profile in LinkedIn.

What’s Important To You?

The next thing is to make a list of what's important to you in a role, without focussing on money too much. Obviously money is important, you have your bills to pay and all the rest, but it really shouldn't be all around money.

If you're the type of person that wants to see the direct impact of your work, then a smaller company might be for you. Whereas if you're somebody who really craves structure, then a corporate environment might be more suited.

Not everyone wants to be CEO, not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, and not everyone wants to be managing people. Have a good think about that aspect too. Take a little bit of time out and just reflect on where you are and where you want to go.

Make a bit of an effort, have a good think about what you want to do and try to be honest with yourself and authentic with yourself, and then you're much more likely to find somewhere that matches your goals and matches your needs on a much more fundamental level. It will help you move towards job fulfillment, the right salary, and happiness at work.

Ask For Help

Finally, register with a trusted recruitment consultancy. Consultants see CVs all day every day, so we know what a good CV looks like and what a bad CV looks like.

We can be honest with you about what we see in the market and give you information about what's out there.

It’s good having somebody there by your side to help you through the process.

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

You can contact us at info@ttrmail.com or call (01) 564 9602. 


How To Answer Tricky Interview Questions

How To Answer Tricky Interview Questions

April 14 2019

In this helpful episode of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, Laura & Paul help you answer some of the most difficult questions you're likely to be asked in your next job interviews.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


Today we're going to talk about interview questions, specifically trickier interview questions to prepare for.

A little while ago, we published a blog article, Six interview chat-up lines to be prepared for. The article covered the trickier types of questions that you might expect to hear.

  • What do you know about our main competitors? 
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What was your biggest achievement was in your last role?
  • What are your salary expectations? 
  • What would your current or previous colleagues say about you?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Let’s look at the questions.

Main Competitors

We always ask people when they interview with us, or anywhere else, or any other place we’ve worked, who would you say are your main competitors?

You can see in someone’s face if they haven't done the research, their face just drops, and you get random answers or big names that everyone's aware of.

It's a really simple one to do, and to box off. It's 5, 10 minutes research, just for names. If you want to go further you should, but 5 or 10 minutes on that is straight forward.

Do a little bit more research on a company because it demonstrates that you've put the time into it, which demonstrates effort, which demonstrates your keenness on the role.

Why Do You Want To Work Here?

This is something we would ask people when they come to interview with us, and again, it is around the research aspect.

Go beyond a website or the company’s core values if you can. Who do you know in a company? Who do you know who knows someone in a company? Can you talk to someone?

There's nothing more impressive than someone who's done the research, and done the groundwork, and is prepped for an interview.

It's all about understanding the company's background and understanding where they're going.

Go beyond the website - Google news articles about them, if the CEO or whoever's been on a podcast, or done a video recently, or anything like that.

It's two-fold; it demonstrates to the interviewer that the interviewee is genuinely interested; it's also a good opportunity for the interviewee to properly research the company, and make a more informed decision.

Your Biggest Achievement In Your Last Role

People struggle a little on this one.

In any role that you do, you should have some form of achievement.

Employers are always looking for someone who stands out in any way at all.

If you're in a junior role in trade processing, have you done anything where you've improved a process?

Did you do any research, outside your current role?

Did you run any projects?

Were you heavily involved in part of a project where it was up to you to deliver?

The more senior the role, the bigger the achievement needs to be.

Again, it's kind of prep work and it's knowing your CV -  thinking about your background and what you've done.

Salary Expectations

It's an awkward one.

We generally ask candidates to try not to discuss salary at the early stage, because the salary should always be secondary, certainly in the mind of the interviewer.

If you're working with a recruitment consultant, the salary piece should be covered off. We should have an idea of your expectations, have an idea of where a role is pitched.

But a job should be about more than just money, obviously - that is really important.

Employers don't necessarily want to see someone who's talking about salary a lot or giving the impression that it's their end goal.

So, what’s a standard answer for current salary? Is it's more about the role and the opportunity. You can disclose where you are currently but it’s too soon to get into negotiation around salary.

What Would Your Current Or Previous Colleagues Say About You?

This is a different way of asking your strengths and weaknesses.

We’ve seen people being asked this and we’ve asked it too.

You almost see someone pause to think, almost as if they have to tell you the truth because you're going to go off and ask colleagues.

It's one of those questions where it's really about knowing yourself; knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and again something you can prepare for.

Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years’ Time?

People can get really awkward about this question.

We don’t use this question.

The standard answer should be something along the lines of progression within the organisation or similar, but it's one that if you haven't thought about it, it will really stump you.

You don't need to give a very definitive answer, just give thought to where you'd like to go, or the direction that your career will go. Ideally, it should be aligned to the role that you're interviewing for and the company that you're interviewing for.

People used to answer with, "I want to be sitting in your chair," or something like that - it's not really the best response.

Have a think about where you want to go, why is this job important to you in that next step? What's it going to bring? How can you see it being useful for you in terms of your longer-term career goals - be honest.

Does this role, does this company give you the potential to fulfil your aspirations? If it doesn't maybe the interview chair is not the right place for you to be is sitting.

Need Help?

If you want any information or are interested in one of our roles in the Fintech and financial services industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

You can contact us at info@ttrmail.com or call (01) 564 9602. 


The Rapid Rise Of ManCo’s in Ireland

The Rapid Rise Of ManCo’s in Ireland

April 11 2019

Listen in to this episode of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast in which Laura quizzes Paul on the rise of ManCo's in Ireland.


The ManCo space is really busy at the minute.

The main driver behind the ManCo space is Brexit.

Essentially companies need to be able to passport financial services, products or funds into the EU post-Brexit, if Brexit happens.

For Ireland, it's great, it's something different, it's more front office, it's more of the higher value roles coming into the country, coming into financial services which is fantastic. It's a space that's always been there but in the past six months, in particular, it just seems to have really boomed.

We're working with a couple of ManCos just now and have done a good bit of work in that space pre-Christmas and it's an area that's really, really booming.

When they establish first, typically, it's looking for a layer of people around risk and compliance is normally their number one priority.

We’re finding that the majority of companies coming over from the UK are either looking for someone internal, Irish looking to come home, who could take a country lead role or something like that. Or bringing someone over on anywhere from two to five year expat agreement to set up a business and to start things going in Dublin. And then look to hire someone who can either replace expats if and when they go back or can start to build out different functions.

It's having an impact on the market for sure for a number of different reasons.

One, ManCo is attractive now. Ireland has been traditionally been back office in terms of funds. We have a lot of fund administration here. Moving away from that into a more front office environment is something that's always very attractive for people, particularly in the risk and compliance space.

One of the things I'm struck by is pre-recession Ireland was doing really well in terms of moving up the value chain. You had companies in fund services moving added value roles into Dublin, setting up risk services and interesting things like that. That all stopped pre-recession and started once things started to heat back up again. So it was coming but Brexit has really lit a fire under it.

One thing it's demonstrated is our ability as a country to be able to attract talent. So you have obviously there's the very obviously route of Irish ex-pats in the UK, in the US, in Australia, in wherever who'd bite your arm off for an interesting role back here. There's a lot of that happening.

With Brexit, there's a cohort of non-UK, EU nationals in London who don't want to be there anymore, or don't feel as comfortable there anymore, so they want to come over.

As a country, particularly with the change we've seen in the past few years, we're a much easier society to settle into. We're somewhere that people find very comfortable to settle and live.

We have a lot of advantages going for us which is why we're doing very well in the ManCo space (and payments is another big area).

One of the other things we've noticed on the talent attraction piece, is the availability of accommodation or affordable accommodation.

Rents in Ireland are cheaper than London and you can live closer to the city centre for less.

Now is the time to strike.

If you're a ManCo, start thinking about coming to Dublin, just do it. Talent is definitely available.

Need Help?

If you want any information or if you're thinking about making the move into the ManCo industry, get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

You can contact us at info@ttrmail.com or call (01) 564 9602. 


Moving To Dublin For Your New Job? How To Find A Place To Live In Dublin

Moving To Dublin For Your New Job? How To Find A Place To Live In Dublin

April 10 2019

You would need to have been living on the moon to not be clued into the fact that Ireland is becoming more and more attractive for companies due to Brexit.

As a result, we are actively working with more and more companies setting up shop here and looking for talented people to join them.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

Ireland is the only other English-speaking country in Europe and this fact coupled with our proximity to the US and simply due to the fact, we are nice people, means transitioning over from the UK to Ireland or beyond is a very real option.

I work in Technology recruitment and if you are not on the moon, you must be living under a rock, if you do not know Technology recruitment is red HOT. We have so many openings and actively reach out to our neighbouring EU countries to relocate talent here.

I would always speak to people first and ascertain if they have a network in Ireland at all. If they do or not, it’s no major issue as:

  • Ireland is a great place to be. The job market is booming, and we are attracting more and more business all the time.
  • We have an international airport so you can easily fly to whatever destination you like.
  • Dublin is vibrant, hugely diverse and multi-cultural.
  • Irish people are very friendly and welcoming.

When moving over to Dublin, it would be a good idea to set yourself up with an AirBnB initially while you are looking for somewhere to live more permanently. It would be a good idea to find a place close to where you work as it will give you a proper feel for the area and the convenience of being close to work while you are figuring out the city will make it easier.

Dublin city can be tricky to find a place right now as there is a huge demand for property but there are many other options and commuter towns like: Leixlip, Naas, Maynooth, Drogheda, Navan or anywhere on the train line really. We have frequent bus services right to Cavan town with many residential options on the way.

You can check Daft.ie or MyHome.ie to have a look. There are also many Facebook groups you can join to help you find home shares etc.

I hear too often all the negatives about how hard it is to find somewhere to live in Dublin city and how expensive it is, etc. If you consider London city, there are few people who have the luxury to walk to work and the majority of people commute and according to Business Leader, April 2018, the average Londoner's commute time is 74 minutes!!! 

Our booming economy in Ireland means that we will have to be more realistic about where we can afford to live, and our commute time will be reflected accordingly.

Want Some Advice?

If you are exploring your options to move to Dublin or Ireland in general, we operate in Fintech/Blockchain and Financial Services industries and have many roles for Technology and Finance candidates.

Contact us at info@ttrmail.com or call us on +353 (0) 1 564 9602.

Laura Smyth


How To Move From The Corporate World To A Startup

How To Move From The Corporate World To A Startup

April 08 2019

In the recent episode of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, Laura & Paul discussed what's involved in moving from the corporate world to a startup. Have a listen to the episode and then let's take a look at some of the key questions.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .

What's Involved In Moving From The Corporate World To A Startup?

If you're thinking about joining the brave new world of Fintech, you might be wondering what's involved when making the leap from the corporate world to a startup.

You may be pondering such questions as what's different, what to expect of your new employer, and what will they expect of you?

Let's take a look . . .

Extract From The Podcast Discussion

One of the main things that we see is the fast pace and, if you think of Facebook's model of 'Move fast and break things', it really exemplifies what a startup tends to be like and what you need to be comfortable with in that culture.

It's going to be fast-paced; it's going to be different every day. Things are definitely going to go wrong, and you need to be comfortable with that.

Even on the work-life balance, if you're the type of person that likes (and there's nothing wrong with this, by the way) your nine to five routine, the startup world can be a little bit more demanding at the beginning.

If you're the type of person that likes a really structured environment it might not necessarily be for you. You have to be prepared to maybe work that little bit harder.

There are also shifting deadlines and priorities that come with rapid growth and change.

You're going to be taking on a much broader role so you just need to be able to be very, very adaptable to change.

One of the other challenges is that startups often can't give customers everything that they want because the product is still being developed

You need to be comfortable in that environment - not just that your product can't offer everything but in the fact that you need to find a way that your product can satisfy your customers' needs or be innovative about it and try to find a way to get it done. That type of innovative mindset is very important.

You need to be comfortable with less structure and more ambiguity. Generally, roles are less well defined, there's a need for you to work across different areas to put your hand up and take on different tasks that you weren't necessarily hired for.

There's inherently more risk with a startup which is something that people need to be cognizant of when considering a move to a Fintech.

There's inherently less security. A startup that may be really well funded may run out of runway if the product isn't adopted widely enough in time.

On the flipside, if you're an early employee in a startup, there can be a lot of potential and reward for the risk that you're taking.

However, people do need to be conscious not to get carried away with the whole, "Everyone's working in a startup; I want to work in a startup" thing because it doesn't suit everyone.

If you're a sole income earner for your family and you've kids to think about, the risk is something to consider. You need to be comfortable with that risk.

Again, looking from a different angle, there's probably no better time to take a risk. It's an employee's market at out there at the moment. Regardless of what happens to you in a startup, you will pick up a huge amount of experience.

If you're looking for real career acceleration, there's no better place to be than a startup. You can go in with a couple of years experience and then really broaden your skill set.

You also have the opportunity to shape the company culture and be kind of part of the company's early vision.

Want Some Career Advice?

If you want any information or if you're thinking about making the move into Fintech get in touch with us at Top Tier Recruitment.

You can contact us at info@ttrmail.com or call (01) 564 9602. 



How Do I Hire Non-EU Citizens In Ireland?

How Do I Hire Non-EU Citizens In Ireland?

April 05 2019

Stamp this, stamp that, stamp the other. What does it all mean? You have found the PERFECT candidate but you simply do not understand if you can hire them based on their visa status – sounds familiar, right? We do not claim to be immigration specialists but we do deal with candidates frequently who are on various permits.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

How To Hire Non-EU Citizens

There have also been recent changes for partners of critical skills visa holders (click here).

So, let’s start at the beginning, what is a work permit? Simply put, a work permit is a document issued to people of non-EU residence to allow them to reside, work or study in Ireland for a specified period of time. There are various categories (click here for more details). Here are some of the more frequent Visas we come across:

Hiring non-EU nationals in Ireland

Stamp 1
Individuals entitled to work subject to the terms of the relevant valid employment permit.

Stamp 1G
Individuals who have finished their studies are entitled to look for employment under the Third Level Graduate Programme.

Stamp 2
Students attending a recognised full-time course of at least one year. They are permitted to work for 20 hours a week during term time and full time (40 hours per week) during holidays.

Stamp 2A
Students who are attending a course not recognised by the Department of Education and Science. They are not permitted to work.

Stamp 3 
Individuals who are not permitted to work. This includes visitors; retired people of independent means; ministers of religion and members of religious orders; and spouses and dependents of employment permit holders – their work rights have been updated recently, click here for more information.

Stamp 4 
Individuals are permitted to work without an employment permit or business permission. Applies to spouses of Irish nationals; family members of EEA citizens; refugees and parents of an Irish citizen child who have been granted leave to remain.

Stamp 5 
Individuals are permitted to stay in Ireland without limits on time, subject to other conditions.

Stamp 6 
Individuals are Irish citizens with dual-citizenship.

In Practice . . .

Simply put, people who are a holder of Stamp 4, 5 and 6 have not encountered many issues when looking to get hired.

Let’s imagine you have found an ideal candidate who not only fits the technical specifications but has an excellent culture fit for your business but then you discover the individual requires sponsorship and you have no idea what to expect….

Oh, I hate to break it to you, but it is by no means a straight forward process:

I have investigated this for my clients and spoken with some people and you have to start your application here. I believe it can take around 12 weeks, but really depends on the quality of how all documents are completed and so on.

There is another option - become a 'trusted partner'. The application takes around 3 weeks but to become a trusted partner there are criteria to be met, click here.

Need Help?

If you are hiring for specific Skillset and find you are really struggling, we can help source Technology and Finance candidates on your behalf.

As we only work with a select client base, we deliver well on an ongoing basis.

Contact info@ttrmail.com or call us on +353 (0) 1 564 9602.

Laura Smyth


Your Workplace Culture And The Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

Your Workplace Culture And The Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

April 02 2019

If you joined Laura & Paul for the recent episode of the Your Pursuit Of Happiness podcast, you would have heard them discussing workplace culture and the EVP (Employer Value Proposition).

Have a listen to the episode and then let's take a look at some of the key questions . . .

Read on or listen to the discussion below.

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

Podcast Discussion

Ok, let's get into the discussion . . .


How important Is company leadership & management in workplace culture?

Company's leadership and management is key to workplace culture.

The whole idea of workplace culture and lived values and everything else needs to start from the top. It needs to be lived. It needs to be really embedded within an organisation.

Without strong leadership around that and management doing their part and being visibly active around culture and what they want to achieve, then it tends to fall down. It tends to be seen as kind of a tick-the-box exercise.

So you really need the executive team to buy in.

How would you go about that? How do you get the buy-in from the executive team?

Culture and HR and recruitment tend to be maybe a little bit further down the list than they should be. Sometimes leadership & management teams can focus on things that are very obviously revenue-generating. it's purely about the bottom line, but being able to demonstrate how creating a positive culture or creating an employer value proposition that people want to work with and work for and embody is good for the bottom line.

How do you demonstrate that? How do you get by in senior levels by showing that investing time and resources into creating a positive culture?

There are clear statistics out there on all this translating to the bottom line.

It costs more to recruit than retain staff.

It's easier to recruit if your employee culture is right, which reduces the cost of time to hire and things like that. You get the right person in the door, they tend to stick around longer and there's less training costs and everything else. So, there are very clear ways that you can measure the impact of a positive culture.

Where do EVPs fit into this? (Employer Value Propositions)

You need to think about workplace cultures that are attractive from an employer brand perspective. 

It's easy for companies that are well-known, that have a brand that's well recognized and well organized.

In Dublin, just near the Top Tier Recruitment offices, you have Facebook, you have Google, you have LinkedIn. Twitter is nearby too. They're all highly recognisable brands.

A big thing from an EVP perspective that your brand overall is strong and recognizable.

How do you build on that? How do you make sure people are aware of you as an employer? What is your employer brand? And are people kind of aware of that? And how do you do that if you're not mainstream in terms of a brand?

It's about recognising where you are from an overall branding perspective and then working to address any gaps or any issues with that.

It's really important actually from an SME perspective. If we think about, for example, smaller domestic fund managers or boutique fund administration firms or any of the IFSC banks that aren't necessarily retail banks and, therefore, don't have a massive following or recognition. They still need to recruit and are competing with tech giants now because it's not just financial services competing with each other.

It's really important for those guys, in particular, to think about what they can offer, what their brand is, how they're going to attract people, and spend some time and probably a little bit of money on getting their message out there to enable them to recruit and retain properly.

People love having a direct impact on their work. Is that part of an EVP?

Definitely. It's easier for smaller companies or for startups where you're employee #10 and you know what the product is, where the product's going, and so on. You can directly see your impact. If you're a UI person and you're going to work on a particular product with a FinTech, for example. You know that you're going to be ultimately responsible for the UI user experience or the user interface for that product.

It's really easy to see what you've done and how it's translatable. It's easy even to show your mates. You know, "I was involved in this. Look what I did." 

It gets harder when it's a larger business with more layers and complexity.

When it's larger and when you need to functionalise and when jobs become inherently more specialist as you grow. It's important to try to keep that philosophy going through because of purpose, particularly in the millennial generation and Generation X or Y or Z or whatever the next generation will be, they do want to purpose in their work.

They do want to see how what they do makes an impact. They want to see how they've contributed to their company and their career.

Showing how their role is important.

Also, think about giving the opportunity to contribute outside of the role, outside of your day to day responsibilities.

Give people responsibility for defining an employer brand.

Give people responsibility for developing a recruitment strategy if you're not going to do it yourself. Keep people responsible for your corporate social responsibility policy and other such policies.

Giving people responsibility for things they can have a direct impact on is very important.

How do company policies and philosophies affect workplace culture?

Taking a step back, companies need to define who they are and what they are themselves and develop policies around that aspect.

Policy is not a great word probably because it sounds rigid and it sounds inflexible and everything else.

Define what you are and what you want to achieve and how you want to have your culture or how you want to embed a particular culture within your organisation.

It's about setting a kind of a roadmap to getting there and recognising where you are on that roadmap.

Any company that's been established for any length of time has some form of employer brand, has some form of policy in place, and has some sort of vision for where they want to go. So, you're somewhere on a roadmap already.

The policy side is important. Try to think of the counterpoints to any particular policies.

One thing that people are very strong on at the minute is innovation and they'll talk about their culture being really focused on innovation and people have the opportunity to contribute and they have the opportunity to innovate and come up with new ideas and everything else.

And that's great.

But the counterpoint to innovation is failure.

Most ideas, or at least a lot of ideas, will fail.

Does your culture allow for failure? How does your culture allow for failure? Do you have examples? How do you demonstrate it? How do you recognise it and turn it into a positive?

Think of what you want to achieve, set out a plan or a roadmap to achieve it, and importantly, remember the counterpoint to whatever it is that you're trying to achieve.

What about the physical work environment?

I wouldn't say everyone has the office environment just right just yet but it's more commonplace to have a nice working environment and it is important.

You're at work for a lot of time most days, regardless of agile working and remote working and everything else. Your physical office is somewhere that people spend an awful lot of time, so getting that right is important. It feeds into your culture.

If you're a company that wants to promote things like innovation and generating new ideas and all of that side, you need to have spaces that are kind of conducive to that aspect.

Is there a room where people can go to think about these types of things? Is there the physical infrastructure there? Do you have smart whiteboards, for example? Do you have your screens and offices that are set up for VC should be easily enough connected to laptops wirelessly and all that just to make the infrastructure of things like innovation easy?

From a recruitment perspective, it's important too. The first impression that people get of you as a company is very often your office (or your website, which should have pictures of your office). So that is definitely important as well.

Salaries have become a little bit more homogenous now. If you're good, you'll get paid market rates or in and around, what it should be. Benefits are kind of becoming relatively homogenous. So it's all the other stuff around culture like the physical office, like remote working, like diversity & inclusion - all of these sorts of things are becoming a lot more important and they all feed in together.

How does company communication affect workplace culture?

Having an open and transparent communication policy is really important. It feeds into what we talked about earlier on in terms of people understanding where their role fits and how it contributes to an organisation's overall goals.

If you don't know where an organization is going and how it's going to get there with some form of a roadmap, it's really hard to translate that into your world and what you do, particularly as you grow.

In a small company, it's easy enough. You're likely all sitting in the same room and you know, you're all working quite closely together. It's easy enough to share where a company is going and communication around that, but as you grow, it's probably one of the things that do get a little bit harder - then how do you effectively communicate? Is it just mass emails? Do you do town halls?

Are there new ways of communicating that people need to work on? Like Slack, for example, is pretty heavily used in the tech world as a good way of communicating.

From an engagement perspective and from a culture perspective, it creates an atmosphere of openness and gives people a sense of kind of value and importance.

It's really important in financial services, in particular, that leadership within companies aren't stuck in their offices just banging out emails. Leaders need to do a little bit more than that to engage people.

On the hierarchy piece, people coming into the workplace nowadays, they want access to the top executives. They want to be heard, they want their opinions to matter. 

How does work-life balance affect company culture?

Work-life balance is obviously really important. 

You need time away from the office or away from the laptop screen or away from the phone to give yourself a break.

It's more than just giving yourself kind of a break, it's about giving your brain time to rest and kind of sort through your thoughts almost on a subconscious level. It prevents burnout. It prevents employee-related stress, which is really important. Mindfulness and wellness are really topical at the minute but are genuinely important and something that people look for and talk to us about as potential employees of our clients.

Work-life balance is really important as are the social aspects. It needs to be recognised now that Friday pints are not just the only thing can be done from a social perspective. It's a very Irish thing that we assume that everyone wants to go to the pub on a Friday night or whatever. There are loads of other things now. There are escape room activities, paintball, or whatever else.

There's a lot that can be done, but giving people the opportunity to make social connections at work that's outside of the day-to-day, somewhere where you're not talking about work all the time is really important. It does create a much better atmosphere and makes teamwork a lot better.

People are more invested if they know a little bit more about people and the people that they work with.

We spend a lot of time in work, around work, thinking about work, talking about work, and so on.

Work is a big part of peoples' lives and, for most people, the social aspect is an important part. Encourage it as part of your effort to create a positive work culture.



Wondering How To Prevent A ‘Shock’ Resignation? Follow These 7 Steps

Wondering How To Prevent A ‘Shock’ Resignation? Follow These 7 Steps

March 27 2019

Rather than being faced with the inconvenience of an employee resignation that seemingly comes out of the blue, implement the following seven steps to prevent a shock resignation.

First though . . .

While You're Here: Get The Employee Retention Guide

Looking for some fresh ideas on how to retain your staff in times of increasing employee turnover?

The Employee Retention Guide features helpful tips and advice for financial services & FinTech employers from industry experts.

You can download the free Employee Retention Guide now.

How To Prevent A ‘Shock’ Resignation

1. Ensure you are giving regular coaching and feedback.

Giving your employee feedback at their annual review just does not cut it.

Think of a professional football player they get feedback after every match.

It is important to give employees feedback on a weekly basis. 

2. Make sure your employee knows what is expected from them.

Perhaps they just do not know what is expected from them or have a true understanding of their role. This reinforces the importance of your weekly feedback meetings. 

3. Implement career progression.

Do you understand your employees' career goals and are they aware of the opportunities open to them? 

One of the top reasons individuals leave today is because they found a company which highlighted the career prospects. 

4. Your employee needs to feel appreciated and recognised.

Your role as a leader is to support and elevate your employee. A simple acknowledgment is often all it takes. 

5. Ask specifically how their relationship is with their direct line manager.

There are many studies which show a huge number of people left due to a bad relationship with their boss and there is a huge correlation between this and their performance.

If the bad relationship was felt by a number of employees, that manager might well have been a bad hire.

Otherwise, it could be a mismatch in personality so it might be a good option to move the individual to another team. 

6. Promote a work-life balance.

Much has been written about offering a work/life balance for your staff.

Company loyalty is not as prevalent as it once was. Individuals, particularly the millennials, expect a more flexible culture which cultivates trust and respect. 

7. Continue to monitor staff morale and engagement levels. Forewarned is forearmed so keep your eye on the situation and prevent surprises.

Good luck!


How To Research A Company Before Your Job Interview

How To Research A Company Before Your Job Interview

March 14 2019

Interviews have stages and structures that rarely change. Regardless of the level or type of role you are interviewing for, you are likely to be asked a question that resembles:

“What do you know about us”

What you actually know about the company is important but this is a question that is rarely answered well so represents an opportunity to stand out and the good news is – it is not that difficult to stand out!

Having interviewed literally hundreds of people for jobs, I can tell you that most answers start with something along the lines of:

“Well, I know you were founded in…”

Please, if you take anything from this article, do not start with when a company was founded!

It is repetitive, uninspiring and bland.

Really, it tells the interviewer that you have flicked through their website. Maybe went past the home page to the ‘About Us’ section but that’s about it and what you say after that will fall flat.

How To Research A Company

For any interview, when researching the company, follow these steps:

  1. Go through the website – clearly, this is a basic but go beyond the home page and ‘About Us’ section. Download marketing material, look at video / audio content, understand a company’s goals, values, etc.
  2. Understand their competitive environment – I always ask people who they think our main competitors are. It shows me they have gone beyond to do research and have some sense of our competitors. Be proactive, include competitors in your answer. Remember, depending on the company / industry, we are in a globally competitive environment so direct competitors can easily be based in other countries.
  3. Look for news – a simple Google search should produce some sort of news article or report not written by the company. Also search for key senior people in the company, not just the company name itself. For most companies, you will find something and referencing that in your answer or even at a later stage of the interview is impressive.
  4. Research your interviewers – ah LinkedIn, where would we be without you! Really easy to find your interviewers on LinkedIn so you can see their background. You don’t want to become a stalker but understanding someone’s background can lead to finding commonality. Commonality in experience, interests, education, etc. builds rapport which is hugely important in making a hiring decision. LinkedIn will also show you a connection path – ie: who are you both connected to. Again, commonality but you can also ask connections what someone is like or what a company is like to work with!
  5. Ask your network – to me, someone who answers this question mentioning that they took the time to meet a current or former employee, ranks high in terms of standing out. Making the effort to think about your network and finding someone who you could speak with is impressive. It not only speaks to your level of interest in a role / company but it shows a bit of lateral thinking and a degree of being happy to go above and beyond.

Nailing this question will not guarantee you the job but it will definitely put you on the right path. For an interviewer, going beyond the standard answers, makes you stand out.

The five steps listed are not hugely time-consuming but will make a big difference and can help throughout the interview, not just the “What do you know about us” question!

Paul Smyth

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.


How To Use An Employer Job Spec Before An Interview

How To Use An Employer Job Spec Before An Interview

March 12 2019

Being called for an interview means that the potential employer feels that you have the skills required. Give yourself the best chance of success by understanding how to use an employer job spec ('job specification') to prepare for the interview.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Ok, let's get into the main topic . . .

How To Use An Employer Job Specification

As much as certain companies are attractive as employers, remember, you are interviewing for a specific role within a company. 

Internal mobility, culture, matching your longer-term ambition, etc. are all components of making a company attractive but you need to get in the door first and that means nailing the interview for a particular job. 

Being called for an interview means that the potential employer feels that you have the skills to do the job on a functional level. 

Remember, you’re as likely to get a job interview when you meet 50% of job requirements as when you meet 90% of them . . .

You’re as likely to get a job interview when you meet 50% of job requirements as when you meet 90% of them.

An analysis of job ads and resumes for 6,000+ applications across 118 industries revealed that, while matching requirements is important, you don’t necessarily need to match all of them.

In fact, your chances of getting an interview start to go up once you meet about 40% of job requirements.

Don't worry about your skills gaps - focus on your strengths

Important Preparation - Understand The Job Spec

There may be skills gaps but nothing that can not be overcome so understanding the job spec and its context within the firm is important preparation.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Functional Matching – Literally have your CV and Job Spec side by side and tick off any responsibilities you have experience with AND highlight any you don’t. You should know, going into any interview, where are your technical strengths and weaknesses. What can you do and deliver in your sleep and where there are any skills gaps. 
  2. Wider Context – Where does this role fit and who are the likely internal stakeholders? Companies will want to know that you understand the context of a specific role and its impact across the business. A lot of companies are moving away from siloed mentalities and trying to foster a deeper understanding. 
  3. Pitch for the role, not the company – You will absolutely want to make sure that an interviewer understands that the company excites you but remember, there is a specific role to fill. Do a good job and all good things will come. It is like an exam – Make sure you are answering the question that is asked, not the question you want to answer.
  4. Add value and demonstrate experience – You likely have a good grasp of a particular role you are interviewing for through experience so demonstrate it with tangible examples. If you know the pitfalls of a process through your previous experience, show that you understand it but also what solutions or ideas do you have about how it can be overcome or de-risked.
  5. Systems Switching – Often, people are put off if they have not used a system or piece of technology. This goes back to skills gaps, what systems have you used that perform the same function if you have not used one listed on a spec. Remember, you were called for an interview because the interviewers think you can do the role, all you need to do is give them comfort that you can bridge any gaps. Go above and beyond, is there a trial you can do of a system or a video you can watch? Most software companies have some form of explainer! 

Remember, a job spec is a functional document.

A good spec will give you the detail on what a role involves but it is not the full picture. There will be things that come up during the interview that are not on a spec but covering off what is, gets you most of the way there. 

Next Steps

Working towards finding a new role?

Search our current job opportunities, look at our free jobseeker resources, or get in touch for a confidential chat.


‘Appetite for Disruption’ - Enterprise Ireland At Its Thought-Provoking Best

‘Appetite for Disruption’ - Enterprise Ireland At Its Thought-Provoking Best

February 13 2019


By Laura Smyth

There was an incredible turn out at Enterprise Ireland’s 2019 event, “Appetite for Disruption”.

I had the pleasure of speaking with and hearing from, many entrepreneurs, business leaders, advisors and influencers within the world of FinTech and financial services.

Here's a quick summary of the event . . .

'Appetite for Disruption' - Enterprise Ireland Event Summary

The 'Appetite for Disruption' event was hosted in the beautiful space, Talent Garden in Glasnevin.

We kicked off with an introduction from Julie Sinnamon, CEO EI.

Julie welcomed a large number of attendees and companies who had travelled from overseas. Julie passionately delivered her message on how proud she is on the innovation in the Financial Services sector.

You can download a fantastic white paper which covers subjects around reinventing transactions - irishadvantage.com/fintech – It highlights Irish innovation in this space. It is a must read and share.

Enterprise Ireland Strategy

Next, Michael D’Arcy, Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance, who despite being under a tight schedule, gave us an outlook into IFS 2025.

The message was that in Financial Services the core area is Fintech and in Ireland, we are really strong in finance and technology.  

The biggest spaces in Fintech are (no surprise) RegTech and Payments.

He spoke about how we can push innovation and how we educate people from the primary to the third and fourth levels. We need to think about what other people in other industries can bring into this space. Being exposed to and meeting truly innovative people in these brilliant spaces like Talent Garden is a positive step forward.

On Brexit, Minister D’Arcy emphasised that Ireland’s opportunities are not capitalised on UK difficulties. Ireland simply wants to be part of solutions due to these difficulties.

“I believe there will be a deal at some stage. It will be a late deal...but there will be a deal.”

Keynote: Dómhnal Slattery, CEO & Founder of Avolon

Our keynote speaker of the day was the inspirational, Dómhnal Slattery, CEO & Founder of Avolon. He is not only an incredibly successful entrepreneur but is extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and he spoke about how business founders need to be rewarded by the state.

He spoke about the obstacles he faced in the Aviation industry and how success comes when you ignore the doubters - “It takes courage to ignore the doubters and try to soar”

Dómhnal started out at 22 and after a series of a job application rejections, he eventually landed a job sorting through faxes and he learned the industry from the bottom up. He has brought the same work ethic with him globally and he knows what it is like to fail and succeed and has learned from it.

“Entrepreneurs create jobs. They don’t make a living, they make lives. They are the oxygen every economy needs..my feeling is that we are unnecessarily starving our economy of this oxygen.” “Ultimately Ireland has no shortage of entrepreneurs...we have the intellectual capital...we have start-up hubs...we cannot keep our best and brightest here long enough...it all begins and ends with culture...”

He spoke about how we are not excelling in the digital arena, artificial intelligence, machine learning and internet of things. These are areas we absolutely need to address in the short term.

He spoke about how in Ireland, there is no focus on entrepreneurship in primary schools hence no inspiration to open your own business. “We need to inspire our young to not just think about getting a job, but to think about being their own boss.”

His overall key message was that going forward, in Ireland, for entrepreneurship to work in a meaning way, we must introduce tax-efficient ways to enable our entrepreneurs i.e. lower Capital Gains for founders and these increased benefits will bring us in line with our peers in the EU and UK.

1st Panel: 'Relationship Status…It’s Complicated'

The first panel of the day was moderated by Eoin Fitzgerald, Senior Development Advisor, Enterprise Ireland on “Relationship Status…It’s Complicated” which consisted of:

  • Gary Conroy, Chief Commercial Officer, Transfermate
  • Maureen Mitchell, Director, Sterling National Bank
  • Mike Chiaramonte, Director, Fintech-Practice, Grant Thornton

The panel discussed real challenges they are faced with; how partnerships with not only Fintechs and Banks but also with the Regulators is key; and where the customer experience can be made easier and automated.

 “What do you have that is unique?”

Gary: Transfermate which is part of The Taxback group and partnership was key for them. Getting investment from ING and AIB was key and it is not just the actual investment but the partnership.

Mike: Over last 5 years, customer experience and not automation is key.

Maureen: “At some levels, you could drive a truck through that customer experience…regulatory environment is crushing and puts up a great deal of roadblocks for internal innovation”

Eoin: “Is it a quick win”?

Maureen: “It is not a quick win...it is a long process of relationship building...it doesn’t provide an easy fix...relationships trump digital access”

Gary: “It is not just a Fintech and Bank relationship but the Regulator also...”

Mike: “Stay focused, stick to your product, try to scale the product and get adoption across the enterprise…”

Maureen:  “Understand the pain points and try to solve those..”

On regulation

Gary: “You can be a Fintech without being regulated but without it, it can be a barrier to entry....having it becomes an advantage”

Maureen: “As a director of a bank, regulatory requirements can be crushing...have seen regulators work with the bank…there are opportunities there to work together”

On top use Customer Experience cases in the Financial Services sector

Gary: “Top use cases are not only about more efficient ways to move money but a better process and customer experience...”

Maureen: “If you look at every business line, you could identify multiple processes to improve....managing risk on an enterprise level takes a lot of work so addressing this could be one...couldn’t identify one”

Mike:  “AML and many others…converting from rules-based to machine learning.... a lot of opportunities for automation”

2nd Panel: 'It’s an F’in Debate'

Next up was the highly energetic panel moderated by Pete Townsend, Founder / CEO, Norio Ventures on “It’s an F’in Debate”. The panel was split into two teams:

Team Europe

  • Jack Finucane Clarke, Market Advisor for Fintech / FS – UK, Enterprise Irelamd
  • Sean Faughan, CEO, Salmon
  • Philip Konopik, Ireland Country Manager, VISA

Team Rest of the World

  • Mo Harvey, Head of Fintech – Asia, Enterprise Ireland
  • Thomas Layman, CEO, Global Vision Group
  • Ollie Walsh, CEO, PiPiT

East versus West resulted in a draw as both sides made very valid point delivered with great wittiness. It is evident that Fintech and innovation are at the forefront both sides of the world and we all have our challenges.

Pete: "East versus west - who is the Fintech superpower?"

Mo: “Asia and Asia Pacific is the future…42% of the adult population does not have access to banking…in 2018 six out of ten Top Fintechs were in Asia...Asia has leapfrogged from pure cash skipped credit cards and gone to digital wallets…growing tech-savvy population…”

Jack: “Over 600 years of banking history…regulation environment in the West is more advanced..we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution…infrastructure facilitates Fintechs to make a big impact…”

Mo: “Asian agile legal systems are playing catch up but open for innovation..”

Jack: “It’s very easy to develop a unicorn when you’re state-backed…it’s going to be much more difficult for Asian Fintechs to enter into the level of regulation faced in the west…if you look at the level of internet connection we have in both..West is much better connected and has a robust infrastructure and the East is not there yet..”

Pete: “Will the challenger bank model stand the test of time?

Sean: “The banking sector is the least trusted sector in the world…people want transparency.....that’s what challenger banks can do”

Tom: “I hate banks…I believe in competition…the fact that banks are regulated, people do trust them...banks will survive..”

Jack:  “Ryanair has forced huge consolidation and have gotten bigger…some of the names we know now will survive and some will not”

Tom:  “One thing that is important, I can find an airline that gives better service, so competition is good”

Pete:  “No bank necessary, is the future cardless?”

Ollie: “People want to be financially included but can’t get a bank account.”

Philip: “If you look at challenger banks today...cardless...not in our lifetime. Cards are a physical representation of something digital...cards will amalgamate, evolve but still be there..Visa is a B2B brand so comfortable being in the background…business push the card.”

Mo: “Why is nobody talking about QR codes?...my cards have become redundant”

Philip:  “QR code is just another way of using the rails”

Audience question: What are the solutions for digital identity?

Mo:  “In India…demonetisation policy which they are rolling it out in terms of biometrics

Philip:  “Biometrics…voice, facial identity etc…it’s combining your behavioural pattern…biometrics is not a single solution…the vast majority of innovation takes place in the other end of the spectrum…the number of changes that are totally disruptive are few and far between…we are all data companies…we could do well understanding how other companies utilise their assets.”

Final Panel: 'Moonshot-FS 2025'

The final panel moderated again by Eoin Fitzgerald was titled, “Moonshot-FS 2025”. The panel consisted of:

  • Laura Clifford, Fintech Fusion Manager, ADAPT Centre
  • Daniel Chatelain, MD, The BayPay Forum
  • David Saul, Chief Scientist, State Street
  • Mark O’Donovan, CEO, RecommenderX

They gave us an excellent insight into how emerging technologies will change Financial Services by 2025 and covered Blockchain, AI, Machine Learning.

The discussions around data was that to have good data we need to standardise and format of the data which we can then apply these disruptive technologies to. 80% of time is spent on cleaning and collecting data.

In general, there is a fear of change felt by senior management around losing their positions and their resistance is an obstacle.

Some key takeaways are quoted below.

  • “We are all in a data business, but a data business built on trust”
  • “We don’t understand how intelligence works so to say we can do it artificially is arrogant at best”
  • “Will self-driving cars make the same ethical decisions as us? Will they swerve off a road to avoid hitting a child? We are a long way from this...”
  • On GDPR: “Need to demonstrate what algorithms you are applying to people’s data.”

Event Summary

It was an insightful event which really highlights how important it is to keep abreast with the rapidly changing world we live in. If we don't, we are unlikely to survive in our businesses.

Whether we like it or not, our world is changing, and we must evolve or accept that we will be left behind.

Information is readily available to us and our expectations as customers have massively increased due to the various technological advances hence why customer experience is key.

I found this quote which I want to dedicate to the entrepreneurs, business leaders, advisors, and Influencers who attended the day. Every day they challenge the way we do things and by rejecting the norm, they break the mould and create their own.


"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."

— Apple Inc.

Laura Smyth


CV Preparation Tips

CV Preparation Tips

February 08 2019

Every interview will go through your CV / experience at some point and in some way. 

One of the surprising stumbling blocks that we would see is a lack of prep around the actual CV. 

Knowing your CV well might seem like a given but sometimes it can be the very thing that trips you up. 

Here are some CV preparation tips to give you the best chance of success in your next interview.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Ok, let's get into the main topic . . .

CV Preparation Advice

Make sure to review your resume as part of your interview preparation.

Cover your bases by making sure you have reviewed these areas:

1. Know your dates – you would be surprised how often people stumble through employment dates / tenure. Not being precise in this is not the end of the world but being precise raises no red flags.

2. Focus on the detail – if it is on your CV, you could be asked about it. That line you have about being involved in a project or your interest in falconry, you could be asked about it in detail so make sure you have prepared an answer.

3. Understand your moves and gaps – why did you leave somewhere to go somewhere else? Why did you move laterally? Why is there a gap on your CV from when you took a few months off to travel? Gaps and moves are standard questions in interviews so you should be ready for them.

Resume Prep

4. Education is still important – regardless of your experience and level, people are always surprised when they are asked about their Leaving Cert., choices made in college, etc. Although not always discussed, you should be prepared to talk about it. 

5. Anticipate skills gaps – your interviewer(s) will have gone through your CV and will have a good idea of any skills gaps. You can easily do the same by being forensic about reviewing the spec and identifying areas you need to work on. Skills gaps are completely normal and expected for every role, it is important that you can demonstrate an ability to overcome and learn new things. Adaptability is a key skill in today’s environment.

Like our guide on researching the company, reviewing your CV before an interview is something that should form part of your standard interview prep. 

If you need some help, don't hesitate to get in touch with us here at Top Tier Recruitment.

Best of luck!


Hot Topics In FinTech & Financial Services - January 2019

 Hot Topics In FinTech & Financial Services - January 2019

January 03 2019

Ready for a big new year? Here are some of the hot topics in FinTech & Financial Services for you to consider.

  1. What's next for the Irish FinTech space?
  2. Could Being A 'Team Player' Lose You A Job Interview In FinTech & Financial Services?
  3. How Banks Need To Change
  4. CV Tip - Demonstrate Results With Numbers [+40% Boost]
  5. Netflix Powers On (And Gets A New CFO)
  6. FinTech in 2019? Predictions for Crowdfunding, Open Banking, SMEs, Regulations & More….
  7. You’re As Likely To Get A Job Interview Meeting 50% Of Job Requirements As Meeting 90% Of Them.
  8. Old With The Old - In With The New. Funky New Designs For Bank Branches
  9. How To Make A Bank-FinTech Partnership Actually Happen
  10. See You At Adminovate 2019?

Talent, regulation and bridging the gender gap - What's next for the Irish FinTech space?

As Colm Heffernan (COO of Fenergo) says, "It has been an exciting year for the Irish fintech scene with an exciting 2019 in the pipeline." 

Deloitte has noted Dublin as one of Europe’s fintech hubs with the highest potential.


Read full article

Could Being A 'Team Player' Lose You A Job Interview In FinTech & Financial Services?

An analysis of job ads and resumes for 6,000+ applications across 118 industries revealed that the most collaborative candidates get penalised by hiring managers.

In fact, being a 'team player' reduces your hireability by 51%

Read full article

How Banks Need To Change

From Chris Skinner, one of the most influential voices in the world on the future of financial services:

"Banks all effectively have three parts — the back office that develops products and provides the administration services; the middle office that provides the infrastructure to transact, connecting the back and front office; and the front office that interacts with customers."

“Historically, in the industrial era, the big banks controlled the whole of that value chain and tried to do all of it,” Skinner explained. “They each do it quite well in some areas, but are average in others, and in some cases they do it really badly.”

"Now there are a multitude of fintech companies across each of those areas, each doing whatever they specialise in extremely well. The role of the bank of the future, Skinner believes, is to bring these together.

“The bank’s job, in my view, is to curate the marketplace of specialists, who do one thing brilliantly well, and bring them to me,” he said. “I don’t have the time to integrate a thousand application programming interfaces to build my own bank. I want the bank to bring the best to me and build a bank for me.”

Read full article

CV Tip — Demonstrate Results With Numbers [+40% Boost]

An analysis of job ads and resumes for 6,000+ applications across 118 industries revealed that, for every 3 sentences in your CV, you should use at least 1 number to demonstrate your impact.

You can gain a +40.2% boost over other applicants.


Read full article

Netflix Powers On (And Gets A New CFO)

Apparently, 45,037,125 people (or accounts) watched the Sandra Bullock horror movie “Bird Box” in its first seven days.

The company is also reported to have found a new CFO.

Read full article

FinTech in 2019? Predictions for Crowdfunding, Open Banking, SMEs, Regulations & More….

An interesting array of predictions for the upcoming year in FinTech.

The predictions cover a wide range of topics including crowdfunding, social missions, regulations, open banking, capital markets, AI, blockchain and community bank.


Read full article

"You’re As Likely To Get A Job Interview Meeting 50% Of Job Requirements As Meeting 90% Of Them."

An analysis of job ads and resumes for 6,000+ applications across 118 industries revealed that, while matching requirements is important, you don’t necessarily need to match all of them.

In fact, your chances of getting an interview start to go up once you meet about 40% of job requirements.


Read full article

Old With The Old - In With The New. Funky New Designs For Bank Branches

Look at these branch projects and you won't see anything resembling the stuffy, boring designs that typified banks in the past.


Read full article

How To Make A Bank-FinTech Partnership Actually Happen

FinTech companies won’t have to go far to find a fellow FinTech with grisly war stories to tell about the bitter and brutal experience of trying to navigate a bank’s due diligence process, and demonstrate that they are fully compliant with all relevant regulations.

After all, banks’ compliance divisions are often bigger than the entire team in a FinTech business.


Read full article

See You At Adminovate 2019?

An exclusive full-day forum bringing together innovative FinTech startups, fund administration professionals and industry experts from the investment operations world to learn and share perspectives on the next wave of industry evolution.


Read full article


Employers In The Irish Financial Services & FinTech Industry: Are You Ready For This Change In 2019?

Employers In The Irish Financial Services & FinTech Industry: Are You Ready For This Change In 2019?

December 20 2018

If you're an employee or employer in the Irish FinTech and Financial Services industry, you'd probably agree that 2018 was quite a year.

The Irish economy continues to grow but has been both buoyed and battered by Brexit.

Brexit turmoil has encouraged more UK-based financial services companies have begun moving over to Ireland. 

The Brexit business migration has put the squeeze on access to talent and we're now seeing much more of a candidate-led market. (Click To Tweet This)

What does this mean for employers?

For one thing, we see talented people moving past salaries as the main driver for their next role. 

Remember Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs?

Well, the higher levels are now taking precedence. 


More and more talented candidates are asking us about the potential employer's workplace culture, career progression pathways, as well as other such factors.

Most often, though, we're asked about the role responsibilities.

That's code for: "Is the role interesting and challenging enough for me?"

If you're part of the hiring process in a Financial Services or FinTech business, it is definitely worth taking some time to reflect on these changes. 

The Celtic Tiger isn't back prowling around Ireland's urban centres but there is definitely a change in the air; candidates can sense it and are now looking for more.

Is your company ready? 

Not sure or want a sounding bell?

Get in touch for a chat 😊


Hot Topics In FinTech & Financial Services - December 2018

Hot Topics In FinTech & Financial Services - December 2018

December 05 2018


5 Reasons To Start Your Fintech Job Hunt Before Christmas

5 Reasons To Start Your Fintech Job Hunt Before Christmas

November 19 2018

Many people looking for a Fintech role in Ireland believe they are better off waiting until January to hunt for a new job.

Some feel that looking prior to Christmas is a waste of time or, in a lot of cases, just put it off due to the time of year.

It can be tempting to put it on hold and spend more time with friends and family, being busy with Christmas parties, present shopping or whatever the case may be.

However, there are many reasons why keeping up the job hunt prior to Christmas can benefit you.

Below are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t wait until January to secure that new job but, first, here's one big reason to start now . . .

The Fintech Jobs Market In Ireland Is Heating Up

Sure, the weather has turned cold but, in contrast, the Irish Fintech jobs marketing is heating-up.

There is a large number of companies expanding rapidly in Ireland and they are offering an exciting array of new opportunities for Fintech job hunters.

Some of the outstanding companies that have recently announced expansions or new jobs include:

(Clearly, now is the time to be contacting your specialist Fintech recruitment firm to give your career a boost).

5 Reasons To Start Your Fintech Job Hunt Now

Here are 5 more reasons why you shouldn’t wait until January to secure that new job:The competition for new jobs will be lower as a large majority of job searchers will wait until the New Year to find a new role.

  1. Many companies are eager to hire before January and hiring managers can be more accessible as there are less people to deal with as they start to wind down before the holiday season.
  2. Budgets set out for new employees and roles that are currently in place, may not be there come January. Meaning companies may have excess hiring budgets to use before the end of year.
  3. Christmas tends to be a popular time for people to leave their jobs. Many people planning to travel or relocate do so in January, there can often be a rise in the number of employees bowing out early December for extended Christmas breaks – all leading to more job opportunities.
  4. Finding a job prior to Christmas break takes the pressure off in January, allowing you to settle into your new job and not having the worries of job hunting on your mind throughout the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Take Action!

So, avoid the influx of new competition in January and stay ahead of the pack this Christmas!

Click here to start your job search now!


Top 5 Tips to Stick to your 2018 Fitness Resolution

Top 5 Tips to Stick to your 2018 Fitness Resolution

February 03 2018

We all understand the importance of fitness, not only for slimming done or improving the appearance of our bodies, but from a mental health perspective. When our bodies and minds are fit, we are less prone to medical conditions.

Exercise is being promoted more and more in the workplace and rightly so. Fitness reduces stress levels making employees less prone to sickness, hence their overall output for the company increases. It is a win-win for both the employer and the employee.

To help you stick to our 2018 fitness goals, we have created a few tips below:

  1. Start a workout diary – you need to be very specific when creating your diary as otherwise your results will vary and the likelihood of dropping out and getting bored increases. By planning your work-outs, you are now accountable to complete these.  If gym membership is not an option for you, you can always workout from home
  2. Create a workout network – we are all familiar with the importance of networking on social media and having a digital presence. There are many apps like Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Nike + etc where you can create your own fitness network, and these individuals are as motivated on fitness as you are
  3. Don’t overdo it – at the beginning of any routine, we are inclined to get over enthusiastic which can sometimes lead to injuries resulting in us quitting our workout routines. Make sure to stretch after a work-out and remember take breaks between workouts as overdoing it will increase your chance of getting an injury
  4. Wear the right gear when exercising – just wearing gym gear increases our desire to exercise. When running, wear the right footwear - I cannot emphasise this enough – get your gait analysis done and buy well-fitted shoes
  5. Measure your results – I don’t mean stand on the scales as they can fluctuate a lot and can often act as a deterrent. Take your measurements as follows:
    • Bust
    • Chest
    • Waist
    • Hips
    • Thighs
    • Knees
    • Calves
    • Upper arm

As we start 2018, we all have our own resolutions like losing weight, getting fit, spending less, saving more, learning something new etc. If you have been thinking of changing your career or are just interested in discussing new opportunities, feel free to reach out to us. We recruit for Technology and Finance candidates within the Fintech and Financial Services industries and would love to help you where we can. Contact info@toptierrecruitment.com or call us on 01 564 9602 now


Future of Fintech

Future of Fintech

January 31 2018

Future of Fintech Event, 30'th January 2018 Recap

I will begin with saying, what a fantastic event I attended yesterday with special thanks to Eoin Fitzgerald of Enterprise Ireland who organised such an impressive event. I was exposed to a roomful of the who’s who of Fintech not only in Ireland but on an international basis. There were more than 100 top people from all over the world including places like Mumbai, Sydney, Toronto, Chicago, New York etc. in attendance.

We kicked off with Michael D’arcy, Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance, who spoke about how 70% of the IFS2020 job target was achieved with 2 years to go. Irish owned IFS are scaling and have almost 10,000 employed with international sales more than €1 billion.Next, I watched in awe as the blog extraordinaire and world-renowned Fintech/Financial Services expert and commentator, Chris Skinner spoke passionately about Fintech. He discussed how “everyone on earth can transact with anyone else on earth” and how “everyone can become entrepreneurial using a mobile phone”.

Fintech has broken the traditional front, middle and back office of a Financial institution apart and as a result many different companies have formed where they do individual parts very well. Banks have traditionally been product focused as opposed to customer focused…”People want experiences”.

“Only 6% of bank board directors have any tech experience” – shocking fact considering the world we now live in. It was clear that legacy bank systems will just not serve into the future.

Chris also speak about people’s fear of automation and AI – in truth 1 in 3 jobs will be automated by 2025..”We need to teach children things machines cannot learn like empathy, art etc. There is a clear sense that this is the future of the job market – when questioned later on this Chris spoke about how jobs involving human empathy i.e. mental illness counselling will be the way forward for our children.

We were presented with three very impressive and excellent panel of speakers.

The first panel, moderated by Ruth McCarthy was regarding the Future of Payments. Ruth asked each company to speak about their strengths as a company and weaknesses or threats. The sentiment was clear in that the main threats to the payments industry are competition and technological change. For some of the more established organisations, legacy systems are a key blocker as they just do not respond fast enough for the millennials.Next up was the panel moderated by Peter Oakes of Fintech Ireland. The message was clear, there is no escaping the increase in regulation in the financial sector. The impressive panel spoke passionately on how they work collaboratively with Financial institutions and regulatory bodies.

The third and final panel discussion of the day moderated by Laura Clifford, Industry Partnership Manager, ADAPT Centre was around the future technologies for Fintech. The key takeaways were around how established FS firms need to use technologies to educate and who customers how to avoid fees for example – this will invoke trust. Everyone agreed that the customer journey needed to be at the forefront of everything. Elly from Deutshe bank commented on how “Financial Services haven’t had their Uber moment yet”.

To conclude, we need to keep on top of our technology and always think about how we can put the customer journey first. Taking a collaborative approach in the future where both the entrepreneurial characteristics and domain knowledge are in existence, will the key to success for both FinTech and FS firms.

All in all, there were many impressive speakers, all of whom are highly credible, so it was a pleasure to attend. The overall sentiment was clear – Dublin and Ireland are in a better position to become a hub for firms to base their European operation here post Brexit.  

At Top Tier Recruitment, we are passionate about the Fintech and Financial Services Industries and specialise specifically in these spaces. To hear about opportunities or to discuss how we can assist you with building your new team in Ireland, contact info@toptierrecruitment.com call Laura/Paul on 01 564 9602


The Importance of Body Language in Interviews

 The Importance of Body Language in Interviews

December 06 2017

We’ve all been to an interview that we felt could have gone better, or maybe we weren’t on top form that day. It can be frustrating, as a face to face interview is your first chance to impress the interviewer. The individual interviewing, be it a recruiter or HR, will firstly try and get a feel for how you will fit their company/role on a personal level, and of course to ensure you have the desired requirements for the role. First impressions are everything when it comes to interview situations, so we want to make sure we get it right.

Your body language can have a significant impact on how you’re first perceived, and so it is important that you are aware of this from the moment you arrive to your interview. Appearance counts during interviews — not only how you dress, but also how you carry yourself. Here are some handy hints to ensure your body language makes a good impression.

But first . . .

While You're Here: Get The Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job

Want some extra help to land the job of your dreams? Jobseeker Guide

The 'Jobseeker’s Guide To Finding Your Dream Job In Ireland's Financial Services & FinTech Industries' will help you put a plan in place to secure your dream job. You’ll know how to prepare well, how to ace those interviews, and how to handle the next stage.

You can download the free Jobseeker's Guide now.

Ok, let's get into the main topic . . .

Before the Interview

If you have some time to wait before your interview, try and refrain from taking out your phone and take an interest in your surroundings. If they have magazines or books, take a look at these instead. From the moment you step inside the building you will need to be aware of how you are presenting yourself. Many buildings will have a receptionist or a potential future colleague close by and you will want to make sure you are giving off the very best first impression. It is also to be noted that it is best practice to be standing before being approached by the interviewer.

Shaking hands

Studies show that handshakes play an important role in first impressions, so make sure to lead with a solid hand shake. As this will be your first-time meeting with the interviewer, you will need to approach them in a friendly yet professional manner. Try and avoid sweaty palms. If you are feeling the heat, running some cold water on your wrists can cool you down and prevent sweaty hands.

Posture - Sit up straight

If your interviewer does not tell you where to take a seat or you are unsure, don’t be afraid to ask. Generally, sitting opposite your interviewer is best as it will make them feel more comfortable facing you from a profile position. Never slouch in your seat. Leaning back suggests boredom or lack of interest. It is so important to sit up straight – you want to make sure you are coming across engaged and alert. Never cross your arms in an interview as this can be interpreted as a symbol of uncertainty or lack of interest. Instead make use of your arms or hands to emphasize your story or alternatively place them on your lap or the table.

Eye contact

Strive to find a healthy balance between making eye contact and avoiding eye contact completely. Eye contact is so important as you want to show that you are comfortable and confident in conversing with your interviewer, but you don’t want to make constant contact and risk the chance of making the interviewer feel uncomfortable. Try to imagine you are discussing your work experience with a family member or friend. This will make the contact more natural and somewhat effortless.


As much as an interview is a serious encounter, you also want to make sure that the interviewer can see you as a good fit on a personal level. Smiling is such an easy way to show that you are interested and approachable.

Leave your mark

When leaving your interview, you will want to leave a lasting impression. Always let them know that it was a pleasure to meet with them and you appreciate them taking the time to meet with you. Another strong handshake is a nice way to finish and depart from the interview. As before, always be aware about how you are being perceived until you have left the building.

For more advice on how to impress in an interview, you can check out our Top 6 Interview Tips here - https://www.toptierrecruitment.com/single-post/2016/10/19/Top-6-Interview-Tips


A guide to keeping active with a busy work life

A guide to keeping active with a busy work life

October 31 2017

2018 is quickly approaching, and I’m sure many of us have yet to keep to our promise of joining a gym, taking up Pilates, or simply keeping fit for 2017! As the days get shorter, and the nights get longer, the urge to “get up and go” diminishes a little more every day. But sometimes we forget that our daily gym session doesn’t need to be first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Here we give you a few simple ways to keep active regardless of demands of your day job.

Walk, Cycle, Run

Many of us are guilty of being within walking or cycling distance of work but don’t take advantage of it by actually walking or cycling. If you are one of these lucky few, why not set your alarm that little but earlier and get some exercise to start the day. You can save the cents spent on public transport and fuel and treat yourself to that morning coffee you deserve after the morning exercise!


The best way to maintain your new found healthy streak is routine. Book that 30-minute lunch time class down at the gym and stick to it. Lunch time workouts are extremely popular so book your place in advance giving you no excuses.

Move more

A lot of us spend the majority of our day at a desk, in front of a computer – it has to be done. But this does not mean that you shouldn’t move around whenever you have an opportunity. Something as simple as using the water fountain on the next floor, take the stairs instead of the lift, or take some calls on a headset and stretch your legs.

You can exercise anywhere

Not all workouts need to take place in a gym or studio. If you can’t get in that gym session for whatever reason, why not try a workout video on YouTube, or that walking app you “never got around to trying”.

Organise a sporting charity event with your friends or colleagues

This has so many pros. First off you get to raise money for a great cause which is always a rewarding experience. Secondly, it gives you a goal to reach. Once a date is set in place, and you know everyone else is committed, you will have no excuses to back out. By getting others involved you can organise training sessions around work and can motivate each other.

And the benefits?

Not only does regular exercise keep you in shape, but it can also have major improvements on other life aspects, including work productivity. The more productive and alert you are at work, the quicker and more efficient your work will be. Exercising is known to curb feelings of anxiety and stress and regular exercise can be used to prevent these feelings and may also help you to better deal with work stress. Lastly, keeping fit can help reduce your risk of getting ill – meaning fewer sick days from work and increased productivity.


Returning to Ireland

 Returning to Ireland

October 17 2017

Ireland’s unemployment rate has fallen to 6.1 per cent, according to the Central Statistics Office. The last time Ireland saw a rate of unemployment at this level was in June 2008, prerecession. The Department of Finance has estimated that unemployment rates will fall below 6% by the end of this year with the potential to reach full employment from 2018 onwards. With these predictions in place, it would be the ideal time for those considering the move home to take the leap. We speak to Top Tier Recruitment’s Maeve Daly on her experiences living abroad and the move home.

Why did you decide to move to Australia?

Growing up in a small town in Galway, you quickly get used to the friend’s older siblings, cousins and school friends gradually taking off on their adventures to overseas. To be completely honest, during this time, the prospect of moving to Australia had never appealed me. I had completed an undergrad at Maynooth University, but soon got comfortable undertaking full time employment in my part time college job. After 2 years of not knowing which direction my career would take and job prospects at a minimum, I decided to apply for a visa to Australia.

What was your experience like working abroad?

I’ve had friends who relocated to Australia, and it just wasn’t for them. It took close to 3 months to fully settle, after which point I had fully immersed myself in the Australian lifestyle I had heard so much about. Finding work was certainly not as easy as it is made out to be. In my second year, 2016, I decided to spend some time living in Brisbane, which was a lot slower than Sydney.

Why did you decide to return to Ireland?

Two years quickly came and went, and my second-year visa was coming to a close. I battled with the dilemma of whether to stay or go. In order to stay, I would have had to secure sponsorship, or apply for a student visa. After much deliberation, I decided to call it a day and head back to Ireland. This decision was based mainly on the fact that I had never intended to live in Australia long term. Missing my family and friends was a huge factor in my decision to move home. As much as I got used to people leaving Ireland for Australia, you must undergo the reverse effect when living in Australia. Having had discussions with friends at home, they had assured me that “Dublin was booming” and that getting a job would not be difficult. Knowing that I was returning to a growing economy where jobs were plentiful really sealed the deal.

How did you feel when you returned to Ireland?

Initially I felt unsettled. Of course, there is an adjustment period, which is natural. It’s always fantastic to see friends and family after being away for any long period of time. I spent the first few weeks settling in and reconnecting with family and friends. Reality eventually set in and I decided I needed to get a plan in place. I decided to make the move to Dublin shortly after returning. This decision came from the fact that many of my friends had since moved up to Dublin for work, and job prospects in Galway are not as easy to come by.

What advice can you give to others planning on returning to Ireland?

Planning your return to Ireland is a daunting experience, but there are certain things you can organise before you leave to make the move easier. I would advise requesting references from any landlords/agencies whilst away as the housing market in Ireland is extremely competitive. You may also need to have bank statements/utility bills as proof of residence. Having your CV and employment details up to date will take the stress off job hunting when you return. Request employer references and make sure they are aware that you would like to use them as a reference when you return home.

In terms of looking for employment when you return, if you haven’t done so already, get yourself on LinkedIn. Let recruiters/employers know that you are back and actively seeking new opportunities. Use titles like “Seeking/Available for new opportunities”. Having travelled can make you even more attractive to hire. It A: Shows that you have completed your travels making you less likely to up and leave due to “the travel bug”, and B: having international experience demonstrates that you can adapt within different environments. Reach out to former colleagues or contacts within your sector. Get a feel for what’s out there and get the word out that you will be returning home and seeking employment.

Other useful resources:

Since arriving home, and joining Top Tier Recruitment, it is evident that there is no shortage of Finance and Fintech roles at all levels in Ireland. If you are in the Finance/Technology industry and are thinking about returning home, get in touch with Top Tier Recruitment. We would be delighted to take the time to talk to you.

Call or email us today - +353 1 564 9602 / info@toptierrecruitment.com



€10K prize draw at this week’s FinTech 20 event!

€10K prize draw at this week’s FinTech 20 event!

October 14 2017

Top Tier Recruitment are delighted to be sponsoring this week’s FinTech 20 event, organised by Irish Tech News in UCD. Tickets are sold out and we are excited about participating in this great event.

Paul Smyth will be moderating a panel discussion @ 12:40 with Geraldine Gibson (AQMetrics), Gerard Joyce (CalqRisk), Stephen Sheehan(Digital State) and Laura Morgan Walsh (PayPal) which will aim to highlight different recruitment and retention strategies for FinTech firms at different stages of growth.

On the day, we will also have a prize draw for two prizes of €5,000 worth of recruitment fees for two companies on the day. All you need to do is drop by our stand at the event and drop off a business card or give us your details and the winner will be announced shortly after the event.

We know that particularly for start-ups and early stage business in this competitive space, hiring key people is vital but cost is still a major factor. We want to be able to contribute to the success and growth of this industry by offering a professional and reliable recruitment service while taking some of the cost element out.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the event and if you would like to take the opportunity to book some time with Paul or Laura to discuss your specific requirements or to get advice on recruitment strategy, feel free to reach out – psmyth@toptierrecruitment.com or lsmyth@toptierrecruitment.com or +353 1 564 9602.


5 Ways to improve the Job Offer Cycle for your Candidate

5 Ways to improve the Job Offer Cycle for your Candidate

October 11 2017


Life in Krakow

 Life in Krakow

October 04 2017

In recent years we have seen a large number of international companies expand to Poland, offering a great environment for expats to think about working there. With a wide range of things to see and do, a growing economy, and a large international community, Krakow could be the right fit for Fintech professionals looking to progress their career.

We speak to Top Tier Recruitment’s Paul Smyth to find out about his experience living and working in Krakow, Poland.

When and why did you decide to relocate Poland?

In 2014, whilst working with State Street, they offered me the opportunity to manage the Recruitment department in Krakow, Poland. I saw this as a great opportunity to manage one of the fastest growing sites in State Street Globally and I was delighted to accept this offer. Initially I didn’t know what to expect from Krakow but I worked with colleagues in State Street who had spent time working in Poland, and only had good things to report, so this made the decision a lot easier for me. There were regular flights to and from Dublin, and from a career perspective, I always felt that having international experience gave you an edge.

Tell me a little bit about your experience living Krakow, Poland?

First and foremost, English is widely spoken throughout Poland and Krakow is very much a multi-national city, with many different nationalities and expats relocating here. Krakow, as a whole, is compact, making it easy to get around and commuting to work was not a problem. One of the many things I remember about Krakow is the food; food in Krakow is great, with no shortage of good restaurants and bars. The cost of living in Krakow is also low and accommodation prices in Krakow are cheap and plentiful. It also feels like a very safe city to live in, which is an important factor if you are relocating alone, or with family. Krakow is vibrant and has a young/student feel about it and is home to Jagiellonian University, the oldest higher education institution in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe.

What was your experience like working in Poland?

I really enjoyed it overall. Being honest, I didn't really find too many differences culturally - everyone was professional, hardworking and committed. The hard thing was that it was a hugely competitive environment for talent at all levels but particularly at graduate level. Managing recruitment for a fast-growing company is an enjoyable challenge, particularly when you have hard deadlines for onboarding but having an environment where there are competitors within and outside of your industry all fighting for the same talent pool, makes it that much more difficult. I think we had a good proposition and were able to attract the right people but it really was a whole new level of recruitment for me.

What would you recommend to anyone thinking about returning or relocating to Poland?

We are delighted to be working with some new clients in Poland, particularly because it gives us the opportunity to travel there again! I was there this summer and the country and finance industry is still booming. Poland could easily slip in quietly and be a big winner out of Brexit - it has a massive talent pool of well-educated and well-trained professionals with ambition. For someone thinking of moving to Poland, I would strongly advise them to do it. The growth in most companies offers real progression opportunities and having international experience on your CV can only be a positive. We are working in a truly global economy where the ability to live and work abroad is highly sought after.

Top Tier Recruitment are delighted to be working with a number of highly reputable names in multiple locations across Poland, including Krakow and Gdansk. You can view these roles here - https://www.toptierrecruitment.com/job-search

To discuss these roles in more detail, contact Paul or Kasia - +353 1 564 9602


Demand for Contract/Daily Rate Roles

Demand for Contract/Daily Rate Roles

October 04 2017

There has been a notable increase in the amount of contract/daily rate roles on offer in the Technology industry. Let's take a look at these types of jobs.

What do you feel are some of the reasons for the increase in contract/daily rate roles in this sector?

Companies are moving more and more towards contract and daily rate roles. There are a few reasons behind this move. Firstly, the increase in the number of these roles available, can make the job search for candidates easier. Although these are not permanent contracts, contract roles tend to be extended and can roll over a couple o

f years. For companies, especially within the technology industry, project requirements are constantly changing. Hiring contractors gives the employer the flexibility to rotate and hire depending on the requirements of specific projects. In addition, the approval process for contractors ten to be quicker and easier.

What factors do you think candidates should take into account when considering contract/daily rate roles?

Employees are looking at jobs differently today than we would have 10 / 15 years ago. They are moving away from permanent roles and are attracted by the benefits of daily rate contract roles. These can give an employee a real sense of personal freedom. Contractors are in control of their careers and have the ability to choose the projects they have an interest in, and are given more exposure to various technologies. They also have the benefit of working with different companies and organisations, giving them more experience. Aside from experience and flexibility, it can be financially rewarding. 

What opportunities do you have for candidates seeking a contract / daily rate role?

We are actively looking to hire for several Technical positions within the Financial and Fintech space. Here are some of the contract roles we are currently looking to fill;

  • Technical Business Analyst
  • Technical Architect
  • IT Security Designer
  • Programme Manager
  • Technical Designer

As there is a continuous demand for contract roles, we are always keen to meet with candidates within the Financial and Fintech industry.

For more information on our open Contract/daily rate roles please contact us at info@ttrmail.com / +353 - 1 - 564 9602


FinTech Ireland Video

FinTech Ireland Video

August 25 2017


Are you Hiring? How to get more from your recruitment partner…

Are you Hiring? How to get more from your recruitment partner…

June 20 2017

Sometimes, recruitment is seen as one dimensional – sourcing CVs to fill a given role. This is a transactional model that is fast becoming redundant and is most definitely outdated already.

Undoubtedly, as a recruitment consultancy, our main ‘business’ is to source suitable and qualified candidates but where does that start and end?

Hiring Cycle

In an ideal world, it’s fairly straight forward but all of the waypoints are littered with potential pitfalls and hazards and a good recruitment consultancy can help you to avoid these.

Identify a need

Things are on the up in Finance and FinTech. Recruitment needs are often to do with business growth but can also come from covering temporary leave, backfilling a leaver or replacing someone who has not worked out.

The temptation is almost always to replace like for like but this is sometimes not the best approach. Depending on your particular circumstances, this may be one of the first pitfalls to avoid.

How can we help?

We are recruiting all day every day. That means engaging with your peers and those in different industries and verticals. We work with small firms right through to MNCs and we have often worked in similar roles or hired into these areas ourselves.

Talking to us about the need in conjunction with others in the business, may open your eyes to a different approach. It will absolutely give you a good picture of where the market is and what skills are available. We will also be able to advise you on compensation and trends in this. A good recruiter will have real time market knowledge. From our experience, benchmarking in other ways can very often result in data that lags the market and is therefore inaccurate.

Choose Sourcing Channels

An assumption that is sometimes made is that recruitment consultancies are often only happy to help if there is a potential fee involved. We have a real appreciation that our clients will want to or be very capable of sourcing directly or through internal referrals or their own network. This should not preclude you from getting advice from a trusted recruitment partner. Choosing the right sourcing channels is an absolutely critical step in the hiring process.

How can we help?

Again, we are experienced in sourcing and active every day. Talk to us about your strategy and we can help and clearly supplement your own sourcing channels if needed.

We would always suggest looking at a couple of factors:

  1. What is the time sensitivity of the hire? If you are hiring to cover a short / medium term absence or replace someone who is leaving, a handover period may be critical. You need to use a recruitment mix that will deliver what you need quickly.
  2. Is this a revenue generating or revenue enabling role? Revenue generating roles should be seen as a longer-term hire with finding the best available being priority. Often this means employing a full sourcing strategy using all channels. Revenue enabling roles are typically a little more straight forward to fill and often more of a volume hire requiring a different approach.
  3. Is it a one off or likely to be recurring? Depending on the role and scale of firm, you may have regularly recurring hires that require a similar profile. Again, a different approach and requires employing a long term and targeted strategy as well as elements of specific branding and content for that role.
  4. New team or existing? Often new teams require a different skill set to existing teams and means that you will be looking for a different profile. Different profiles require (most of the time) different sourcing strategies

Sourcing CVs

Using the correct channels is important. Technology candidates are found in different ways to finance candidates for example. Ploughing money and time into the wrong methods will yield a poor return and will lead to low quality longlists which do not accurately reflect the talent available.

Aside from just finding candidates, you need to be able to successfully convert them to candidates. Having a good understanding of the market and techniques to do this, are key.

How can we help?

We could quite easily write pages on sourcing and its subtleties depending on your requirements! With new products and techniques coming out all the time, it is very much a movable feast which creates opportunity but challenges at the same time.

Talking to us about the actual sourcing process, whether we are directly involved or not, will help you at the outset to identify where to spend the most time. Proactively sourcing through LinkedIn, your own database or any of the number of external databases or other sources, takes up time. You need to plan your search appropriately. Spending a bit of time at the outset will result in better return on time and deliver better longlists.

We can also advise you on how you actually approach people – particularly when proactively sourcing rather than relying on advertising, the approach and conversation to candidate is becoming increasingly important and difficult. For you, approaching directly from a potential employer, this is often the first point of contact and, therefore, first impression a potential candidate will get. It’s a bit cliché but it’s true – you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Interview Suitable Candidates

The interview process, which has hopefully happened quite quickly from sourcing CVs, is a critical part of the hiring process. Bringing people forward to interview is as important as communicating with those not being selected. Also, the interview process itself will make a big difference.

How can we help?

Interviews and interview formats / stages are evolving. We find that a lot of clients are doing an initial phone / Skype screen now before moving to an office interview (often a final stage). Candidates do struggle to get out of the office sometimes so running a full process over a couple of hours is often preferred to two or three different stages.

We are seeing the introduction of tests and presentations becoming more and more common also but it is something that we are happy to advise on and will always be specific to ad hoc roles. Volume hiring can be a little more challenging and we are seeing interview days being used more often, particularly for more junior roles.

Make an Offer

So, you have sourced correctly, interviewed a good shortlist and have a preferred candidate. Now it’s just a case of offering and picking a start date? If only it was that straight forward!

The offer is as important as every other stage. It is what everyone is aiming toward on both sides and it is the moment of truth…

Getting an offer wrong can, at a minimum, leave a bad taste in the mouth of a potential candidate and at worst, damage your own reputation and employer brand while eliminating someone you wanted from the process.

How can we help?

Accurately determining a salary range for a particular role is important but how it is delivered is also something that can make or break an offer.

Depending on the role, level and background of the candidate, we can often advise on not just the number (salary) but additional considerations. Of course, if we are working directly with you and are representing the candidate, we can be much more accurate about where an offer needs to be to secure the candidate at a level that both you and they are happy at.

For longer term considerations around overall comp packages, again, we are well positioned to offer advice and market trends.

Onboard new Hire

Once the offer is accepted, the final stage of the hiring process begins. This typically is around drawing up a contract and start date (with all of the lovely aspects of internal set up involved!). Making sure someone is really looking forward to joining and hitting their first day full of energy and enthusiasm does mean a little out of box thinking!

How can we help?

Again, it’s advice. We see new things in the market all the time and are regularly in touch with candidates who are seeing out notice etc. so understand their mindset.

We would always recommend, where possible, that there is not a void of nothingness between the contract being returned and the start date. More should be done and we are seeing things like lunches and team introductions being done more often as well as really interesting consumable content. All of these things are designed to ensure that good feeling after deciding to move is maintained and solidified right up to Day 1.

In Summary

The hiring cycle is changing constantly and employers need to keep up with these changes. Finding, hiring and retaining the best talent is a constant struggle but getting it right at the hiring stage goes a long way to the longer-term success of any company.

Changes in recruitment have meant that recruitment consultancies have had to change. TTR are committed to adding value where possible to all of our clients across FinTech and Finance and are delighted to have had the opportunity to do so with high growth FinTech firms and established brands in Finance looking to refresh in this area.

We don’t believe it is enough to just source CVs anymore and understand how the market has changed and will continue to.

If you would like to discuss what we do, how we can help or what to discuss anything in this blog, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


Fintech Ireland Event @ NCI 8’th June 2017

Fintech Ireland Event @ NCI  8’th June 2017

June 09 2017

We were delighted to be the recruitment partner to last night’s Fintech Ireland event in NCI in the IFSC. We really enjoyed meeting many of the country’s growing and established firms across the Fintech ecosystem and look forward to working with many of them going forward.

On the night, there was a great panel discussion which was moderated by Peter Oakes, Fintech Ireland founder and NED of Transfermate. The panel included:

  • Charles Dowd, CEO of Plynk – fresh from their major announcement of funding!
  • Nikki Evans, Founder and MD of Perfect Card
  • Geraldine Gibson, CEO of AQ Metrics
  • Joao Reginatto, Director of Operations Europe for Circle
  • Anthony Rafferty, Director of EMEA Merchant Ops and PayPal

The panel clearly spanned early stage companies to global operators but there were a lot of similar thoughts on a lot of topics that every company faces. A few of the major takeaways for us included:

  • Be Brave – there was a lot of talk around incubators etc. but certainly a couple of people on the panel were very strong around getting started. It is easy enough to sit in a room and brainstorm and visualise your product, brand and strategy but there is nothing like getting real world feedback quickly.
  • UX / Customer Experience is key – again, something we are passionate about ourselves but something that everyone was in complete agreement about was the end customer experience. If that is not right, if customers do not feel connected, respected and important, UX is probably falling short and is really not something that can be sustained in this increasingly competitive market.
  • Technology is Critical – may seem a bit of a no brainer for a Fintech event but again just reinforces the requirement of all businesses to move with technology and use it to their advantage. In some businesses, like recruitment, we believe personal interaction is as important but integrating technology into this is crucial to success.
  • Uncertainty is Certain – Brexit, the recent government changes and ongoing local, regional and global regulatory changes were all discussed. Really, the main thing for us out of all of that was the uncertainty is the only certainty. Businesses will always face short, medium and long-term challenges and must aim to understand the impact, plan and move on as much as possible.
  • Ireland is well placed – We were in the NCI in the middle of the IFSC and one of the panelists made the point that within a couple of kilometers of the room were a huge range of skill-sets from financial expertise to specific technology skills – many of whom have been involved in highly entrepreneurial firms who can help grow and support growth.

Before and after the discussion, we had the chance to meet with a lot of people from a broad range of companies within the Fintech space. It was really interesting to hear about specific and quite individual challenges they face in terms of recruitment and retention and offer advice where we could.

We are always delighted to speak with new and existing clients within the Fintech and Finance space. If you are hiring or looking for advice, contact:

Laura Smyth – MD, Technology – lsmyth@toptierrecruitment.com

Paul Smyth – MD, Finance – psmyth@toptierrecruitment.com

+353 – 1 – 567 5570



Robotic Process Automation in a Nutshell

Robotic Process Automation in a Nutshell

June 06 2017

RPA is becoming more and more in demand. We work with Financial Services and Fintech clients exclusively and while the skill set is in high demand within these industries, the candidate pool in Dublin is quite light. The IDA recently hosted a fantastic event in The Marker hotel about RPA and this inspired me to write a couple of paragraphs with my key takeaways.

While RPA sounds complicated, my goal for this brief blog is to simplify it and give you a brief understanding of what is involved.

Simply put, RPA is a set of software tools that act as a virtual staff performing similar human functions in this virtual environment. By replicating human behaviours, these robots take over mundane activities and improve efficiency.

What does this mean for business?

By allowing robots take over tasks like information, extractions, documentation, analytics and data management means human error will be eliminated and work completion will be faster (24/7). This means the ordinary everyday tasks previously conducted by your staff will be taken from them allowing them to concentrate on more useful and interesting tasks hence positively impacting your bottom line.

RPA Summary

  1. Mimics human execution of repetitive processes
  2. The Robots are controlled by the Business Operations teams so robots and humans work on a collaborative basis
  3. Train your robots by using your business operations teams
  4. It sits alongside existing infrastructure
  5. There is no complex integration as robots work with existing IT Architecture

Once you get your head around this, the fear factor people have and the perception of “The robots are taking over” should be eliminated. People are far more valuable and have skill sets beyond the tasks this software can replace so it makes complete sense to embrace these fantastic modern technologies and utilise our people to contribute to our overall business success.

Top Tier Recruitment are actively working with candidates who possess this fantastic skill set. We also have live roles within this space.

To find out more contact lsmyth@toptierrecruitment.com or call Laura on 01 – 567 5570


There’s no Place like Home!

There’s no Place like Home!

May 24 2017

The aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown and the associated doom and gloom led to mass emigration from Ireland. In the four years following the crash 300,000 left Irish shores, 4 out of 10 were aged 18-24. In this time, half of adults aged between 25 and 34 considered leaving Ireland.

I made the decision to pack my bags and leave in late 2007, not spurned on by the economic downturn but more an incentive to travel. So unbeknownst to me I became part of this mass exodus. With five years’ of Banking and Funds experience under my belt I made my first stop in Sydney before eventually settling in Toronto for six years.

Finding work was straightforward with my background and it didn’t take too long before I immersed myself in the local cultures. It’s not long before you forget about how Cork are progressing in the All-Ireland and turn your attentions to the Toronto Raptors journey to the NBA Finals or the taste of a fresh pint of Guinness is replaced by a schooner on the shores of Coogee Beach, and let’s be honest, on one likes to admit it but we all love to be the “token Irish guy”. But at the end of the day, home is home.

It’s inevitable that eventually you are faced with that question, stay or go? For sure it’s not an easy one. You get to a point where you think about the lifestyle that you have grown accustomed to, you compare the relative merits of lifestyle, job opportunities, weather and friends. Ultimately, It boils down to one thing, family. A recent survey showed that a staggering 83% of expats moved home for family reasons. I was one of those.

But nothing could prepare me for what lay in store back on home turf. Ireland and Dublin in particular is buzzing. It’s no surprise that the CSO figures published for the year ended April 2016 showed the first net inward migration numbers since the crash. Dublin definitely has the feel of an international city and the mojo is restored and enhanced from the Celtic Tiger days.

It’s six months’ since I got back and was drawn to a career in recruitment. Having been in the industry for two months now I can see clearly how the country is thriving, particularly in Funds and Financial Services. There is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision and I would wholeheartedly advise anyone to follow suit. 

To discuss roles in Funds and Financial Services or for consultative support on returning to the homeland, give me a call:

Tel:                         01 567 5570

Phone:                 dcurley@toptierrecruitment.com

For more information visit our live jobs now!



106 Days to Hire!?

106 Days to Hire!?

May 10 2017

Since we started Top Tier Recruitment in January of 2106, we have been lucky to work with some great clients and candidates. We decided to look at some of the data we have to understand the blockages from when a role is released to when the successful candidate actually starts.

Why and How?

Data is something we look to use to provide insights for our clients but also to understand our own business and the wider market.

For this, we looked at all of our successful placements since we started. The data set crossed levels from c. 2/3 years’ experience to Director level and covered both finance and technology roles within our financial services data base. Our clients would range from boutique firms to multinationals.

We get a lot of questions around how long it takes to get a new role, particularly from people returning or relocating to Ireland. Also, clients want to understand timelines when starting a process.


Internally, our aim is to have an initial shortlist of three suitable candidates within three days for the majority of roles which we are delighted to be relatively close to. From there, as you can see in the illustration, it takes, on average, 106 days from receipt of a CV to the successful candidate starting.  


There are some things that can not be controlled in the hiring process. One of these is the notice period of the successful candidate which is rarely negotiable. While the majority of people are still on a one month notice, two and three month notice periods are very common – particularly at more senior levels.

In addition to notice periods, previously booked annual leave, taking a short break between roles and other factors do come into play – slightly more ‘controllable’ but still feeds into delays.

Outside of the uncontrollable side, by far the biggest delay in hiring is from receiving CVs to contracts being signed. In our data, 54.8 days. There can be an infinite number of reasons for this from the logistics of getting people in the same room at the same time to hesitation to make decisions but the bottom line is that these delays can have a detrimental impact on recruitment.

Negative Impact

Delays lead to candidates pulling out or being taken by competitors. The reality is that once someone enters a hiring process, whether previously active or not, once in a process, their head is turned and start to see what else is out there.

Delays can also lead to reputational impact and offers being turned down. Whether we like it or not, it is a candidate’s market and having a good, efficient experience during the interview process goes a long way toward shaping their opinion of a potential employer.

What Can You Do?

We would always encourage clients to streamline interviews and contracts where possible. For interviews:

  • Make sure the appropriate people are in the room
  • Try to combine a first and second round where possible – for most roles, two rounds should be more than sufficient
  • Consider using a brief phone screen
  • It is vital to have spent time reviewing CVs before interview – be prepared, understand the gaps in experience and what you need to get comfort on before making a hiring decision

Contact Us

To discuss this or if you need consultative support in hiring within technology or finance, contact us:

Paul Smyth, Managing Director – Finance – psmyth@toptierrecruitment.com

Laura Smyth, Managing Director – Technology –

Or call us on +353 1 567 5570


How to land your Dream Job?

How to land your Dream Job?

May 09 2017

There is a huge difference between a job that simply pays the bills and a job that completely excites you to the point that you actually do not dread those Monday morning blues, mid-week slumps or post-holiday depression. Many of us simply accept our “fate” and continue in this rut for the remainder of our working careers.

Why? Because we always do what we always done so we always get what we always got. When applying for a new role many of us continue to follow traditional methods of job processes, waiting for a job to be released and sending in an application and never thinking outside the box. Below are a few ideas to help you to help you secure that dream job:

Register with a trusted Recruitment Agency

Speak with your network about Recruitment agencies and consultants they have spoken with and choose one or two you know you can trust. That way, as soon as a suitable role is released, you will be at the forefront of that consultant’s mind when they are creating a shortlist of candidates.

Constantly upskill & educate yourself

Not only will this keep your skills relevant and allow you to alter your career direction, but it really demonstrates to an employer that you are serious about your career, committed, and hard-working.

Enhance your Digital Presence

While a strong cv is very important, having a strong and fully complete profile on social media (particularly LinkedIn) is vital. This could be the difference in being found by a company or agency as soon as a role is released, as opposed to you proactively sourcing a job where your dream role could be closed or at late stages with other candidates when you eventually come across it.

Make a list of what is important - Remember money is not everything…

Yes, money is a very important aspect as we need to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads, however, remember what is important for you. In the long run, if you are really interested and inspired about what you are doing, the money will follow.

At TTR, we are always open to meeting candidates within Finance and Technology even if we do not have a suitable, live role at that time. It is important to us to really understand our candidates’ motivations and aspirations so that when a suitable role is released, we will be able to move very quickly on behalf of who we represent.

Contact us today on info@toptierrecruitment.com or call 01 – 567 5570


Happy Easter from TTR

Happy Easter from TTR

April 12 2017


Our Top Tips - Working For The Best Recruitment Consultancy!

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February 27 2017


5 Tips When Moving Back To Ireland

5 Tips When Moving Back To Ireland

February 23 2017


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February 05 2017


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