The Next-Gen Workforce in the Asset Management Industry

The group of individuals we typically classify as the “next generation” is changing. For a long time, the phrase was relatively specific to Generation Y (Millennials), born between 1977 and 1995. But today, Generation Z (Centennials) — or those born after 1995 — are entering the workforce, joining Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers.

“Discussions about the next-gen workforce have begun to take on an implication that’s as much about specific generations as it is about the multigenerational nature of the workforce,” said Stacey Winning, Head of Global Recruiting & Talent Development at Dimensional Fund Advisors, during NISCA’s #WebinarWednesday event on the topic.

The discussion, which also featured forward-thinking leaders from BlackRock and Citibank, was focused on attracting and retaining next-gen talent while creating a dynamic environment aimed at employee growth.

BUILDING CONNECTIONS

Kate Dennis, Director – HR Talent Management at BlackRock, said employees want to feel an emotional connection to the work they do now more than ever.

“As we speak with external and internal candidates, we really try to convey the importance of having a sense of purpose and connection to your work,” Dennis said. “In a world of ‘bring your whole self to work’ — which is something we say a lot at BlackRock — people are attracted to spending their hours at a place where they can feel in touch with the work they’re doing and the impact it has.”

Nicholas Lombardo, Vice President, Business Development at Citibank, said his firm is also exploring how to attract and retain tech talent with a focus on appealing to the needs of today’s smartphone-wielding youth. The effort consists of various subsections:

  • “Day in the Life” Initiatives. Current employees from all generations share what their jobs entail, what skillsets their roles require, and what they like about their jobs. “Through this, we allow the people who aren’t at Citi yet to get a feel of what it’s like,” Lombardo said.
  • Volunteerism. “We highlight a lot of the ways Citi employees are giving back to the communities and getting involved,” he said. “You don’t have to be a large firm to do this — it can be something as simple as helping at a local shelter, as long as it’s allowing current and future employees to step away from the desk and do things that feel good to them.”
  • Learning and Development. “We provide a lot of different training programs to promote leadership skills and unique learning opportunities,” Lombardo said. “Through these programs, we’ve become better at attracting new talent and as well as retaining existing employees.”

GROWING FROM WITHIN

Dennis said that although BlackRock is an asset manager, it also considers itself to be a tech firm — which necessitates a focus on attracting and retaining tech talent. As well as looking outside of the firm, BlackRock focuses on building multigenerational tech talent from within.

The firm recently launched Transform, a program that offers scholarships to current employees, allowing them to learn how to code before being rehired into engineering roles.

“Finding external tech talent is challenging — it’s such a competitive landscape, and we don’t always win out over other tech firms,” Dennis said. “I think Transform sends a wonderful message to employees that we want and are willing to invest in you if you’re taking a little bit of a turn in your career.”

Winning said Dimensional Fund Advisors is taking a different approach to a similar end goal. “We understand that technology can help us better support our clients, so we’re talking to talent and leveraging our next-gen population, who tend to (stereotypically) be more tech-savvy,” she said. “I think it’s about figuring out where tech fits into your world and how you can make that appealing to folks who are earlier in their career.”

Mentors also play a crucial role in growing the multigenerational organizations of today. Dennis said mentorship is a signature component of BlackRock’s leadership program. “Everybody is assigned what we call a sponsor, someone who is senior to them, who can serve as a career champion, and potentially remove barriers to growth,” she said.

On the flip side, the firm connects senior leaders with junior talent to offer advice on new technology. “It has generated such excitement — obviously exposure for senior leaders to fantastic talent within the organization, and then a cool message to junior talent, which is if you’re fantastic at your craft, we will find opportunities for you to showcase it,” Dennis said.

 

Note: Although the observations contained in this work represent the best thoughts of the individuals comprising the NICSA panel, they do not necessarily reflect the views of NICSA or any of its member organizations. Matters addressed in this work may touch upon legal or regulatory matters, however nothing herein is intended to be or should be construed as legal advice. You should contact your own counsel in order to obtain legal advice regarding these or any other matters.



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