RFP: Diary of an institutional salesman, part 5

This week, Will looks to add sales staff.

Let's face it, the past couple of years have been tough on us all. Personally, I've matured well beyond my age in the process. Those grey flecks in my hair give me that distinguished look that the chicks dig and clients consider somehow worthy. I leave the Just For Men on the shelf, thank you very much.

My firm, Integrity Asset Management, had some serious reshuffling to do during the GFC. Yours truly was able to negotiate a career-boosting transfer to Asia, the land of growth and opportunity. And, upon landing, I was told my first job here was to make a few retrenchments and decruitments. So much for decoupling.

But happy days are here again, and Integrity is re-skilling! I've been given additional headcount and have been reviewing resumes from the hopefuls all week. Nothing says 'management potential' like leading a team of four people, and so Will Fitzgerald is in the market for three (that's right, three) lucky protégés. Colinna asked why not just get one really good person -- she's got a lot to learn about this industry.

We advertised in the usual online places. I wanted to use a headhunter, but the CEO insisted that the role of 'Associate, Director's Office, Marketing' did not warrant the cost and effort.

It has to be a good time to hire! People have collected their bonuses and many are looking to upgrade. We've seen applications from sales guys and marketeers at all of our main competitors - Prime Alpha, Swiss Heritage, Vesuvius. Most of them are back-office losers, but I admire the initiative.

I face a wall of 66 resumes. The stack's taller than my computer monitor. I throw out any from people whose latest role is with a firm I've never heard of. That gets me to 38. I throw out any from people who have never worked for an asset manager before, leaving me with 27. At the last moment, I save one of those, thanks to the candidate's inclusion of a particularly helpful photograph. See, this is the kind of initiative that people in the States have completely lost. I'll interview her first.

Out of the top 28, five have sent cover letters. Why oh why do people still insist on cover letters? Does anybody ever read them? I blew three minutes of precious sales time reading a page overflowing with so much flowery trite that I'm surprised it didn't stick to the side of the trash can.

The remaining 23 can be categorised as follows:

Exam Junkies: CFA, MBA, FRM, CPA, FIA, CAIA, OMG, LOL ;-). Anyone who starts their resume with a list of more than two of these has a clear need of a life. Will it impress our clients? Quite possibly, and they always say you should hire people smarter than yourself.

I know this sounds arrogant, so don't take it the wrong way, but based on what I've seen around here, I'm not sure too many of my peers are giving Einstein a run for his money in the brains department. Three more applications find their way to File 13.

Job Hoppers: I look at the Fitzgerald Hop Ratio: (Number of Roles) divided by (Years Since Starting First Role). Any ratios higher than two and out they go. Four more CVs bite the dust.

Investment Geeks: No use whatsoever for my purpose. I need networkers, action-agents, dynamic, target-focused selling machines with proven track records. I do not need wannabe portfolio managers, dreaming of switching to the buy side and probably wasting 50% of their time watching the markets. That rules out two more.

Salary Sluts: Why would anyone put their current salary and expected new salary on their resume? This I do not get. All you're telling your future employer is that you'll jump at the chance to earn 3.2% more than currently. We're down to our Top 10...

It's a quiet week otherwise, with most of the office youngsters out to cram for their CFAs, so I assemble a spreadsheet scoring system to help with the process. Points off for resumes more than two pages long, citing Gavin Price as a referee and/or appearing to be more athletic than me; points on for speaking Mandarin, being a girl (extra half point for being under 27) or having studied outside of Hong Kong.

Life's not fair. Deal with it.

Next up: interviews. Kim, Integrity's regional CEO, insists on being involved at this stage, so that we focus on people with "suitable investment knowledge". This is the problem with having ex-portfolio managers in management positions -- they simply do not understand the heat of the chase, the art of the deal. Sales is the heart of asset management, that's why we make up 80% of the industry's population. But he's the boss -- at least for now...

William T Fitzgerald is a fictional character, as are all the other individuals and companies in "RFP Diary". Any resemblance to the living or to real firms is purely coincidental. Will's adventures continue fortnightly. 

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.