Most businesses will have some sort of mentoring system in place, no matter the size of the company or the industry in which it operates. Even those companies which don’t have formal, structured mentoring schemes in place will probably still have staff being mentored at different levels of the business. That’s because good managers mentor naturally every day as part of the way they interact with their teams. A mentor is usually someone in a more senior position than their mentee, who can offer them the benefit of their experience. They don’t tell their mentees what to do, but are there to guide them, build their confidence, help them to grow their support network and progress their careers over the longer term.
Although mentoring can be important and useful in any business, you can argue a particularly strong case for it in the financial services space.
A fast-moving industry
One reason for this is that things can change quickly in the financial services world, so mentoring can help staff to stay abreast of the latest developments, updates and regulatory changes. It can also give them insight into different parts of the business and how they work, which could be particularly useful in a small firm where staff might sometimes be expected to take on responsibilities outside their job spec.
Attract and keep talent
Mentoring schemes can bring many benefits to the companies running them as well as individual mentees. Not the least of these is a way to get the upper hand in the face of a looming recruitment crisis in the financial services industry. A mentoring programme can help firms attract talented staff, who find the promise of an experienced mentor to bring them on in their careers very appealing. It also means firms have a better chance of retaining their most talented people, by nurturing them through clear career paths and training them up to be the next generation of highly engaged senior managers.
It is well known that financial services struggles with a lack of diversity, especially in leadership roles. Mentoring schemes could go some way towards redressing the balance.
Phil Renshaw, a former international banker and now a research fellow at the London Institute of Banking & Finance, notes research shows people with mentors typically have a quicker path to promotion and senior jobs. “There is evidence that one of the reasons men are often promoted faster than women, and that you find more men than women in senior leadership positions, is that men are better at finding effective mentors,” he says. “Financial Services is a male dominated industry at senior levels, so this is of considerable importance to women.”
The 30% Club is an initiative set up by City grandee Dame Helena Morrissey to encourage more women to pursue the top jobs in financial services. The Club runs a mentoring scheme which now involves mentors from more than 60 firms, including PwC, MasterCard, BlackRock, Nomura, BDO, Linklaters, KPMG and HSBC.
Nameeta Pai, Head of Board Support at Santander and a mentee on the 30% Club mentoring scheme, said the scheme has helped her to feel more included in the important conversations in her industry: “Diversity at its very basic level to me means I get access to a seat at the table, I am eligible to participate as well.” Michael Cole-Fontayn, chairman of EMEA at BNY Mellon and a mentor on the same scheme, added: “I’ve seen enormous benefit for the women in my own company who have been mentored, but also from my male and female colleagues who have mentored on the programme.”
Mentoring can be used to improve ethnic diversity in financial services as well. Lloyds Banking Group announced recently it has set a target to increase the number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethic (BAME) staff within the bank, especially in senior positions. One of the ways it will do this is to use career development and leadership schemes, connect staff with industry role models from similar backgrounds, and create an ‘allies programme’ to build advocacy among colleagues, it says.
Big City firms commonly have mentoring schemes for their own staff, but there are also great programmes enabling mentors to give their guidance to those outside their organisations too. Groups including Deloitte, Virgin Money, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank have all been involved in ‘speed mentoring’ events, for example, where people at the start of the careers in finance can have short, focused conversations with leaders from across the industry.
Mentoring schemes like these present the City as a more open, friendly and accessible place, helping to attract the next generation of clever and ambitious people who will be vital to its future success.
And of course you can access mentoring by signing up to AlgoMe.com and match with someone who will advise and support you or vice versa.