Hymans Robertson LLP, A Case Study in Building A New Technology Team

Hymans Robertson

‘World-class performance comes by striving for a target just out of reach but with a vivid awareness of how the gap might be breached.’ Matthew Syed

The above quote comes to mind when I reflect on the challenge I was faced to recruit a new technology team to deliver a groundbreaking, pioneering product within the pensions industry.

This would be challenging in itself but when it is for a market leading pensions and risk consultancy with the stated ambition to become the worlds ‘most admired professional services firm’ then the challenge acquires an altogether more challenging dimension!

Established in 1921, Hymans Robertson (www.hymans.co.uk)
 is one of the UK’s leading pensions, benefits and risk consultancies with offices in London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh and work with a wide range of corporate clients, trustees and public sector organisations.

Positioned at number 48 in The Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Companies’ in the U.K., Hymans Robertson has a rich and successful history of winning several industry awards within pensions and financial services for innovation and service and also has a 2 Star Best Companies rating.

In many ways, the ‘GO’ programme is a microcosm of the firm’s corporate ambitions to make a real difference in the world, to stretch boundaries and create challenges that fire the imagination, all of which makes Hymans Robertson such an exciting place to work.

Employing the latest Microsoft technology and up to date Agile/SCRUM methodologies, ‘GO’ demystifies the pensions challenges facing employees, by focusing on retirement outcomes, and with the help of advanced analytics behind the scenes, provides clear, simple and understandable guidance and retirement solutions.

In a nutshell, employees will be able to save for their retirement more efficiently and effectively than ever before – a truly groundbreaking product.

Having first hand understanding of the Hymans Robertson culture and the rigorous standards the firm applies to recruitment, I knew that for such a recruitment programme to succeed the foundations had to be sound: marketing, supplier selection, documentation and process would all have to be of the highest order.

The basic tenets of the assignment involved planning and delivery of the complete recruitment cycle:

  1. Recruitment supplier selection and management
  2. Job description compilation
  3. Recruitment marketing documentation compilation
  4. Interview process design
  5. Technical competency test compilation
  6. Management of first line interviews for permanent and contract staff
  7. Influencer on final recruitment selection

Over a 9-month period, well over 400 interviews were conducted and 30+ staff successfully recruited on a permanent and freelance basis.

Key Programme Take-Aways

1.    Effective Marketing and Communication

Recruitment success owes much to fine marketing and the compilation of the document ‘10 Great Reasons. A Technology Career with Hymans Robertson’ helped prospective candidates to appreciate the character of the firm, its culture, many past achievements and overarching ambitions.

The document also had to appeal to those outside as well as to those who worked within the confines of the financial services industry.

I was keen to design a document that was different from the norm and one that would attract the passive candidate and also help our recruitment suppliers to communicate with enthusiasm what made Hymans Robertson extra special and different.

2.    Recruitment Supplier Selection

It was key to identify and select recruitment organisations that offered the genuine desire to develop a long-term partnering relationship.

In line with Hymans Robertson’s corporate values of being ‘friendly, partnering, straightforward and confident’, these values were embedded into the recruitment process; I wanted to give our selected suppliers the opportunity to get to know Hymans Robertson extremely well so that they might select the candidates that matched our requirements and ultimately excel.

3.    Culture Matters

A core challenge was to recruit the ‘best team’ as opposed to a ‘team of the best.’

Cultural fit was of paramount importance, selecting candidates whose skill profiles offered the task driven / team relationship skills balance we sought.

The first line interview questions focused on three attributes – passion, competence and curiosity – underpinned by the desire to identify a strong team ethic.

We sought to probe and understand why people enjoyed their work, what motivated them; the requirement was to identify individuals who would relish the challenge inherent in building product from the ground up, people who could quickly gel in the team, who were confident to ask the simple questions and who had the natural curiosity and inquisitiveness to go the extra mile to add that extra bit of quality, despite the obvious time pressures and technical complexities of the programme.

4.    Good Process, Swift Response

The most productive interviewing processes combine two elements, which may, at first sight, appear to be diametrically opposed – challenge and enjoyment.

It was important that every candidate gained a positive interview experience.

We moved swiftly to interview candidates and with those recruitment suppliers who won the greatest trust, I would agree interviews over the phone without seeing the CV, a criterion of all healthy productive supplier / client relationships.

5.    It’s a Team Effort

Successful recruitment relies upon the efficient processing of different perspectives; ultimately, no matter what processes there are in place, selection comes down to a combination of effective probing, empirical feedback, experience, intuition and, perhaps most importantly of all, deeply considered and constructive input from the whole recruitment team. It was a truly, great team effort!

6.    Personal Take-Aways

Best experience: Seeing the empty desks being populated and the team growing!
Worst experience: Getting up at 4:30 a.m. on a weekly basis to fly from London to Edinburgh. I have always been an early bird, but never that early!

References from the Guided Outcomes ‘GO’ team at Hymans Robertson, Edinburgh on completion of the assignment

‘Just want to highlight what a fantastic job Haydn has done for us. He has been a massive help over the last months.’

‘Haydn has done a great job and has ensured that we bring in candidates that are really aligned to the firm’s culture.’

‘It’s easy to say it’s been a “pleasure” working with someone – but with Haydn I really mean it.  An instructive time too, I’ve learned a lot from him.’

‘He coped admirably with a lot of workload at the peak of GO2 and has brought in some great people.’

‘Haydn was a complete pleasure to work with.  His approach to screening the candidates was superb and he was able to provide a very comprehensive justification as to why they should or shouldn’t be considered.’

Are you are a start-up, or need to build a new internal team within an optimum timeframe without compromising on quality of selection?

If so, and want to find out more about the detailed and comprehensive thought processes that we apply to selecting, developing and building a great team, then do please contact me.

More information

More details about Hymans are available via their website, and also via the following PDF: 10 Great Reasons, A Technology Career with Hymans Robertson