Alison Hollingshead: We need to make our industry more attractive and more accesible

The COO of Jupiter Asset Management, Alison Hollingshead, talks to The TRADE about the challenges of recruitment – and why, contrary to popular opinion, coding isn’t everything when it comes to the desired skillset for a trader.

By Editors

Do you think trading desks are challenging themselves enough in the talent recruitment process? Why?

Clearly there continues to be challenges in terms of achieving the right level of diverse talent on trading desks across the industry. I don’t think that is up for debate anymore. We are all agreed that diversity of thought and diversity of background lead to better outcomes.

There does need to be focus from the trading desk in their recruitment process, but it’s tough to put it all on them. In an environment of volatile markets and cost pressures from all directions, how much can they do?

The head of desk needs to be held to account on approach and process but is an issue for the broader organisation. It’s a collective responsibility. Often there is pressure to get someone in quickly and a person who can hit the ground running. A firm needs to be willing for it to take longer and to take risks on people with different backgrounds and different experience. 

How do you think they could better challenge themselves?

I think we all need to try a bit harder and be a little less risk averse when it comes to looking in different places and taking chances on who we find.

And then once we have hired them, how do we keep them? Role modelling, sponsoring, and mentoring are key. You have to make space for people and support and nurture them.

How has the evolution of trading evolved the desired skillset in a trader from a recruitment perspective?

Our industry is one of constant change. From technology innovation to market dynamics to regulation, the only guarantee is that next year will be different to this one. The most important ability is a willingness to adapt and change. To be successful and at the top of your game, you need a questioning, data driven, decision making mindset.

You don’t need a coder per se – if you’re trading high touch, high yield EM, python isn’t going to get you liquidity. While data and tech utilisation are incredibly important in trading nowadays, it is still a relationship business where the key skill is engaging with people. When you see market dislocation like we have recently, lots of business switches back to high touch. However, you need to able to leverage all the information at your disposal, analyse it and use the output to reinforce or challenge your decision making.

How has the recruitment process adapted to capture individuals with this changing skillset?

Broadening out where we look for talent. We need to make our industry more attractive and accessible. Try and attract people with different backgrounds, and the younger generation who are by circumstance naturally more tech savvy and adaptable.

Initiatives like Investment2020 and ReturnHub who we work with at Jupiter, graduate schemes, apprenticeships, etc., all provide access to different groups of potential talent, and time on the desk. Hands-on experience of the exciting and fulfilling jobs that are available [is also important].

At a firm level we are focusing on financial literacy. We are connecting with potential populations early in their education or career and giving access to people who might not have experience or knowledge of asset management.