At first glance, it might not seem like Motown, mortgage records and Executive Search have much in common. Not until, that is, I spoke with James Isaacs, a Consultant at Eric Salmon & Partners.
He explained that not only are the subjects linked but the connections between them hold a lesson for the Search industry. A lesson that is particularly prescient for financial and consumer services, and the firms that provide senior level appointments in these sectors, as they are forced to contend with the growing emergence of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Open Banking.
Isaacs noted that he first thought of the links when comparing the way his father and daughter bought and enjoyed music. Whilst his father was interested in the Motown record label that produced the music he loved, his daughter was more infatuated with the artist she enjoyed listening to – Justin Bieber – and the way she accessed it rather than the label who made the musical product. For Isaacs, who works in the financial and consumer services sectors, the difference between the consumer habits of his father and daughter rather mirrored the juncture that retail financial services currently finds itself at.
As Isaacs explains: “With the accelerating change afforded by Open Banking, will the same fate befall financial product manufacturers and distributers as it has record labels? It begs the question if consumers will be more concerned with newer packagers and distributors - with their slick, swipe-ready interfaces and easy-to-access information – than traditional banking outlets?” The follow on, for Isaacs, being the resulting questions:
“How interested are we likely to be in the banking institution when the flashy new ‘Justin Biebers’ of financial services are proffering exciting new propositions? And, importantly, what does this mean for hiring norms?”
For the Search firms involved in adapting their strategy to meet new consumer, and subsequent client, demands, Isaacs notes that Eric Salmon are “seeing companies, management teams and investors looking for individuals who think horizontally and creatively across consumer services and can see the future, understand the application of this new technology and are therefore able to create commercially viable, value-based products and propositions.” In effect, miracle workers.
Yet, as with new tech, there is new competition for this ‘miracle’ talent. He continues: “Although there’s a risk that the really strong individuals will all be enticed into the private, high-growth, small and mid-cap market, these hires still have a role to play in the large corporate world.”
And, rather than panicking about having to hire senior staff with a set of skills that, just a few years ago, didn’t exist, Isaacs believes that this is a great time to be hiring for the consumer services industry. He concludes: “Most say that Open Banking and APIs are a game changer. Some say it will take time to change the market. Another opinion is that it will create threats such as data risk to scare interest away.” However, Isaacs is a self-confessed ‘Belieber’ in the new state of the market. He sees the potential Open Banking brings consumers, the new business models it will foster and the careers it will allow talented Executives to enjoy.