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It’s not all in the math

For global CFD and spread-betting provider, IG, the recruitment process has changed over the past 40 years to mirror the evolving skill set required internally, but the principles for success have remained steadfast. Jackie Bornor, Global Head of HR discusses the key factors in successful graduate recruitment.

Maintaining a fresh flow of talent is of course essential for any organisation to build momentum and ensure future success, but our employees today have similar personality traits to those of their 1970s colleagues, notably; a basic desire to succeed, a sharp mathematical mind, a yearning for added responsibility and the ability to go above and beyond. The organisation’s launch in 1974, and the graduate program, designed over two decades ago, has been tweaked year on year in an attempt to help find the business leaders of tomorrow and, as a result, it is a critical process that the company continues to passionately believe in. The company prides itself on its innovative approach to finding the best talent. The “Quick Maths Test” where applicants must answer 101 basic arithmetic questions in five minutes is testament to this. Maths is the basic language that all at IG speak, so an exam to assess an applicant’s basic numeracy is crucial. The test itself has become a cornerstone of the recruitment process and everybody within the organisation, from Tim Howkins group CEO, to this year’s applicants, will have at some point passed the test, and undoubtedly remembered the resulting score.

It is essential however that the application process looks beyond numerical reasoning and also helps to find those who demonstrate a wider skill set. We conduct rigid tests to ascertain a candidate’s verbal reasoning skills, team working abilities and personality traits. Physical team games designed to immerse all applicants in a high pressured environment are an essential part of the process, helping us gain an understanding of an applicant’s personality. Becoming a top employer is not just about finding and attracting the top minds, it is also about cultivating them and so once through the door, graduates are enrolled onto an eighteen month programme designed to nurture and grow each individual. Those on the scheme spend time working in each of the four core business divisions; sales, account set up and rebate, credit risk and dealing. This help them to find their niche as well as providing a wider overview of the business from day one. It also ensures that they learn exactly what is required by each division, to help ease working processes moving forward.

 “There is one final test, known as ‘the chaotic markets test’, simulating extreme volatility in the financial markets, to see how individuals cope with pressure and extreme situations”

Successful candidates are also tested before and after probation to ensure that all essential skills are being developed, strengthened and implemented. A deal-taking test, taking the form of mock client calls with an experienced trader, is just one way of ensuring that all graduates are comfortable to handle challenging situations, should they arise. For the best candidates, after 18 months there is one final test, known as ‘the chaotic markets test’, simulating extreme volatility in the financial markets – developed many years ago – to see how individuals cope with pressure and extreme situations. With a solid structure in place to develop and nurture the business leaders of tomorrow, the company also remains committed in its efforts to maintain a strong family feel. An open door policy is in place for everybody, helping to remove a sense of hierarchy, whilst encouraging all to speak and learn from each other. Regular, informal events are also provided, along with social outings to help unite the entire IG community and a strong community spirit flows through the veins of the business.

Perhaps more than ever, a wider set of skills are required internally in order to ensure that an organisation can remain truly competitive. Research recently conducted by, ‘Mind the gap in 2017’, identified that 61 percent of companies are having difficulties when it comes to recruiting entry level talent, largely a result of the ever-widening skills gap. So, as well as searching for the most talented traders, a large proportion of IG graduates join the IT department in a bid to ensure that the company is equipped to handle the ever increasing requirements to run such a large scale online offering. Apprentice positions are also available, with many top companies today being forced to increasingly compete with Universities for the brightest school leavers. There is no escaping the reality that it remains a tough market today for all University leavers on the hunt to find a career start, but for businesses, it is vital for future success to go the extra mile to attract talent.

Jackie Bornor, Global Head of HR

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