OPINION | The human resources teams of asset owners and managers could learn much from their investment departments about transforming their process for selecting people to reduce risk and maximise positive returns.

The recruitment processes that have become standard practice in the institutional investment sector in recent years are backwards.

At the heart of the problem in the recruitment industry is a lazy over-reliance on technology. Too often, recruiters take a fee to come up with a shortlist of candidates that has been assembled simply by running an automated keyword search across the LinkedIn database. Matching 10 keywords for the role you need to fill with 10 similar words from hundreds of CVs is hardly digital disruption.

LinkedIn and other online platforms can be useful tools for helping to screen candidates, but nothing compares to knowing who’s who in the industry. We need to harness the best of both technology and human capital.

A superannuation fund wouldn’t put its members’ money in an investment offering based on 10 keywords. Rather, it would benchmark the performance of various funds and investment offerings, check that the offering does what the marketing collateral says it does and assess the professionals behind it.

Recruiting, however, is backwards. Organisations don’t typically do such assessments at all in their recruiting process until the very end, with a cursory reference check from a friendly ex-colleague. You wouldn’t do that with your investments, so don’t do that with your hiring.

It’s time for more organisations in our industry to transform and reverse this process. If you have a role to fill, consider benchmarking the proven performers out there and then approaching only them, not just any who pop up in an online search.

With the increasing pace of change in today’s markets, you don’t have the time or money to waste on someone who has a good CV and interview technique but little substance. Identifying and enticing proven performers who fit with your organisational culture is key to developing high-performing teams.

We all know hiring the wrong person is one of the greatest risks asset owners and managers face in terms of cost, time and the unwanted departure of other good people.

As US oil-well firefighter Red Adair said: “If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait ’til you hire an amateur.”

Consider how often you’ve worked with others who were troublesome, who were focused on themselves, who didn’t contribute and who had little customer focus, and how this impacted your own role let alone the overall business?

It is time for a change – a transformation – so the technology, craft and science of recruiting come together to identify and entice the best people to join the best organisations. After all, good teams of people are a competitive point of difference.

Guy McKanna is the founder and principal of bespoke industry recruiter SUPER Recruiters.

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