In March 2021, Anthony Mills made the move to Marks Sattin Birmingham, after spending nine years at another recruitment company. Our Internal recruitment manager, Karen Chilton, chatted to Anthony about his career so far, what it’s like joining a new company during a pandemic, and some of his most memorable moments in recruitment.
Anthony, welcome to Marks Sattin! How are you settling in?
What a start it has been! Although we are currently working remotely, everyone has taken the time to welcome me into the business. Luckily, with recruitment being a well-connected industry, I have either previously worked with, or met some of my colleagues in the past, so it has been pretty easy to settle in!
How did you get into recruitment?
Like most recruiters, by accident! However, my situation is a little different. My father had hopes of me becoming an accountant, and would often get me to help him with his business accounts. I studied accountancy as one of my subjects at A-level, and I studied accountancy & finance at degree level.
However, I chose a career in business development and account management. In 2012, I decided to try mixing my business development and account management experience with my accountancy and finance studies to become a finance recruitment consultant, and I haven’t looked back since. So, I guess I did somewhat get into accountancy as per my father’s hopes, but in a weird sort of way!
Tell us about your career so far
I specialise in permanent and temporary positions across the West and East Midlands, primarily recruiting roles at the qualified level. My experience has allowed me to work with a range of companies, from FTSE 100/250 listed, multinational organisations, SME’s, private equity and venture capitalist backed.
However, over the past seven years most of my work has been in the interim and contracting space, partnering with clients to recommend effective and efficient interim solutions to meet their needs. As a result, I have been able to acquire a sizeable interim finance network that continues to grow to this day!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I have to say that the feeling of placing somebody in their “dream job”, and knowing that I have delivered a top class experience for my client is the best part of my work. I don’t believe that feeling could ever go away. In recruitment, you get the opportunity to learn a lot about the people and businesses you support, and I have built some genuine long-lasting relationships and even some good friendships off the back of it.
Do you have any work-related embarrassing tales for us?
It was just after Christmas and I had gained a few extra pounds. We were attending an important client meeting to take the brief of several senior finance vacancies. The weather was awful, and there had been torrential rain all morning, so we decided to take a little jog to get there as quickly as possible. As I took a few paces, I heard a tear. I looked down to discover my suit trouser was ripped!
Like a true professional, I had to soldier on and attend the meeting. Luckily, my trusted colleague was on hand to give me his jacket which I strategically dangled over my arm to hide my unfortunate accident. We won the pitch and recruited the vacancies within the team, without the client suspecting a thing, and I learned a valuable lesson, always have a suit one size up ready for the winter months, or just eat fewer donuts!
What swayed you to join Marks Sattin?
The idea of being just a number has never interested me. I want to work for a business that invests in their people. Luckily, because I knew people who work at Marks Sattin, I had a good idea of what it would be like to work in the team.
Ultimately, for me, the attraction was knowing that I could bring my skills and regional knowledge to a new business, and help the directors develop Marks Sattin's offering in the Midlands.
I knew I could add value and go on a journey with the business. Marks Sattin is already a leading recruitment consultancy with offices in Birmingham, London, Reading, Surrey, Manchester, Leeds and Dublin. The business has been established for almost 35 years, plus Marks Sattin is owned by Gi Group, a leading global recruitment conglomerate which operates in over 40 countries.
Whilst some businesses in their position may be complacent, there is a lot of drive and ambition within the business, and I knew I needed to be a part of it.
In your opinion, why is Marks Sattin different from other consultancies?
Well, I’ve never known another recruitment consultancy that has a golf simulator for us to use at our leisure, a spacious gym with all the equipment, and an awesome rooftop bar in their offices.
I would also say that Marks Sattin genuinely live by what they say about “being a mature business”. Whilst commercial viability is central to any business, there isn’t any micromanagement, and the consultants are trusted to work in a way that works best for us to bring the best results.
It has also been extremely refreshing for me to see first-hand Marks Sattin’s stance on diversity & inclusion across the Group. No matter your race/ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality or disability – being fairly represented with equal opportunity and having your voice heard is critical to any successful organisation with a diverse workforce. I learned that Marks Sattin really take this seriously and their diversity & inclusion committee has representation from a variety of groups within the business to increase our awareness and education. Not only is this practice followed internally, Marks Sattin partner with a number of external clients to ensure D&I is at the centre of the recruitment process, allowing for fair representation and minimising unconscious biases. I am really proud to be a part of a business that champions diversity & inclusion!
What advice would you give to any consultants who are considering a move after working with another consultancy for a long time, as you were?
To move roles after nine years as a consistently high performing consultant was daunting. It was a big decision to move, given my length of service and having a “safe” job during an uncertain time, it was a complex decision to make. Unfortunately, my partner was made redundant as a result of the pandemic, meaning I became the sole earner, and we were also expecting our second child (who we welcomed on May 2nd 2021).
For anybody considering a move after being with an employer for a considerable period of time. I think the first piece of advice that I would give is to have self-belief.
The thought of change can be such a daunting thing, but it can also be the best thing that you ever did!
There are businesses out there, like Marks Sattin, that can work in a fluid way, meaning they can shift and adapt to meet the needs of their employees, whether it be flexible work from home/office working, part-time/full-time. At Marks Sattin, entrepreneurial flair is celebrated and ideas aren’t dismissed before you’ve even finished your sentence. I would also advise that opening up an informal discussion with an agency doesn’t mean that you are tied in to anything, but instead it can be used to gauge whether they could meet your long term goals; if not, then they are not the business for you.
Finally, tell us something not many people know about you.
As a sports enthusiast, I represented my Regional Athletics team, where I had the chance to meet the GB Athletics and the Jamaican Athletics Teams. I also had the opportunity to play a “Cup Final” game as a teen for my football team at the Birmingham City Football Ground. I shouldn’t admit to that, being an Aston Villa fan!
If you enjoyed reading Anthony's career story so far, and would like to learn more, check out our internal vacancies or contact me for a confidential chat about your career options with Marks Sattin.
Recruiting outstanding talent is the goal of every talent acquisition team. However, market forces have made that task increasingly difficult. Often candidates are unwilling to leave jobs that have seen them through the pandemic, and those who are looking for new opportunities are often the subject of bidding wars. Even highly desirable businesses, like Fintech SMEs, are having a hard time finding enough people with the right skill set for their companies. Ultimately, these candidates command a premium and, as a business, you may very well offer and exceed their expectations, however, that still may not be enough to sway them to work for you. So, in a skills' drought, what can your business do to attract the best talent for your Fintech start-up or SME? Understand the candidate’s motives As a Senior Recruitment Consultant, who specialises in the Fintech market, I have multiple conversations a day about the cons of working for a start-up vs. a large organisation. Some of the key themes from these conversations include:1. Potential lack of learning and development in a smaller business2. Fewer opportunities to progress in SMEs3. Less opportunity for flexible working and longer working hours4. Not enough employee benefits5. Less job security in a start-upYes, there are risks that come with joining a smaller business, but start-ups are some of the most progressive and creative businesses around. Remuneration, employee benefits and job security are only some of the motivators for people in their working life. People often work at start-ups because they believe in the mission or product, not necessarily for financial gain or job security. Make your job opportunity stand out from the crowd Recruiting top talent in the Fintech market is difficult, every hire is integral and can make or break your company. With budgets being a big concern for many businesses, you need to think strategically about how you present jobs to potential candidates. A job advert is not a list of responsibilities. Companies need to understand who they want to attract with the job advertisement. A well put together job advert, which covers all of the essential qualities the candidate needs to possess to be successful and what you can offer them in return, is a great starting point. Utilise websites like Gender Decoder to ensure your job adverts are gender neutral and consider using SEO practises to attract better quality and more diverse candidates.Showcase your employer brand Candidates want to know what it is like to work for a company before they work for them. Attracting candidates whose values and work style align with those of your company will make your recruitment process smoother, as you won’t have to sift through candidate profiles that aren’t a match in any way. It also works the other way around. Candidates who don’t like what they see will deselect themselves from the selection process. To ensure you’re getting candidates who fit in your company, showcase your company culture through as many channels as possible and communicate why you’re a great place to work." Boost retention and retain talentRetaining talent is an essential component of acquiring talent. The Fintech industry is compact and well-connected. One person’s poor experience with your organisation could have a damaging impact on your ability to hire new people. Therefore, ensuring there is a keen focus on developing and retaining talent is a must if you want to recruit successfully for your Fintech SME. ● Incentives Start-ups and SMEs are often disadvantaged when it comes to their ability to incentivise their employee’s roles, and provide the type of working environments, benefits and conditions that incentivise employees to stay long-term. This is because start-ups may not always be able to compete with large organisations on remuneration, benefits and bonuses. Therefore, it is essential to see appropriate and financially sustainable incentives as a cornerstone of talent acquisition and retention.● Training and progressionSome SMEs might shirk the cost of training, however learning opportunities often lead to increased productivity. Furthermore, employees are much more likely to stay with a business if they can see a clear progression and development plan. And whilst there is always the risk that if you train your employees and enhance their education, that they will leave, if you don’t offer a clear progression and training route, they are even less likely to hang around. ● Welcome feedback You should actively seek feedback from your people around the business. The people on the frontline of your organisation are often the ones best placed to provide insight into business performance. Moreover, employees who are engaged and feel heard often stay in their roles longer. Ask for help The average employee exit costs 33% of their annual salary. However, some studies have found that the real cost of making a bad hire is closer to £130k! This is taking into account the loss of talent, time, recruitment fees, training and decreased productivity. A high turnover rate can cripple a start-up or SME. It is essential that as a business, small or large, that you don’t fall into a pattern of making bad hires. There are several routes to acquire talent, such as referrals, ex-colleagues, and reaching out to connections, which are advantageous. However, scaling and growing a business on the back of referrals is time-consuming, and there are fewer safety nets in place if the hire isn’t quite right. That is why engaging the services of specialist recruitment consultancies, like Marks Sattin, is essential. We don’t just find you your next hire, we are uniquely placed to consult with businesses on hiring trends, candidate behaviour and best talent attraction methods for your business. And the best part is, it won’t cost you anything until we have made a placement.You can read our previously published article on the pros and cons of taking recruitment in-house. If you would like to discuss any of the above, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
TeaserFinance & Accounting
If you have been living under a rock over the last few years, you might have managed to avoid the term IR35. IR35 is the name given to tax legislation in the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003. It’s legislation created by the government to reduce tax evasion amongst non-permanent workers on self-employed contracts. They are often referred to as disguised employees who are doing the same work as permanent employees, however under their own company to enable them to claim the same tax efficiencies of a business. Considering the many areas that IR35 has had a direct impact on the market, from limited contractors to companies changing their recruitment polices, it has not had a significant effect on the part qualified and transactional level so far for the following reasons: Traditionally part qualified accountants haven’t used personal limited company payment structures as there was only marginal benefits on offer to them for doing so. Instead, the majority of these candidates have been paid through daily/hourly rates via PAYE basis or umbrella companies, so IR35 has had little effect on their take home income.Generally part qualified accountants tend to get paid a premium for performing contract roles, so they’re still in a strong position and normally provided with enough of an incentive to elect for contract roles over permanent opportunities through the added benefits.Organisations still have a strong need for flexible resources to cover many different situations that occur, such as maternity covers, illness, projects and many other uncertain situations that present themselves from time to time.Many companies have a preference to outsource payroll for contractors rather than dealing with it themselves and therefore elect to hire candidates on daily/hourly rates, as the agencies will take responsibility for the admin and all other areas that come with that coverage. However, some organisations do not fully understand the rules around contracting, and the after-effect of IR35 have led to some companies taking a blanket approach to recruitment and deciding to recruit roles on a fixed term contract basis instead.As an experienced part qualified recruitment consultant here at Marks Sattin, I predict that in the long term, competition for talent will dictate the market and lead any companies taking this blanket approach down the route of using temporary workers again. Otherwise, they will risk not accessing the best temp professionals with the right skills and experience for their business at the time when they need it most.You can read our previously published article here on how IR35 will impact contractors and employers. If you would like to discuss any of the above from a candidate or client perspective, please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that 2020 was a tough year. In recruitment we are usually on the sharp end of economic turmoil, so I’m very empathetic to people’s struggles, especially those seeking new employment. However the good news is that over the last couple of months we have seen some glimmers of hope. Since last September there has been a slow but steady incremental demand for accounting & finance talent in London. This was precipitated by the gradual reopening of offices, and clearing the hiring backlog which was created in the late spring and summer months due to the COVID restrictions and the extreme uncertainty. Candidate needs have changed Whilst firms were constrained and had conservative hiring plans, the risk appetite among candidates for a new role, company, or location change surprised us - this has no doubt been triggered by the enormous lifestyle changes that we’ve all been contending with recently. Many people have decided to escape that city in search of open, more green spaces, and the vast majority of candidates we speak with are expecting a new level of work flexibility to support their personal and family interests.A large dichotomy between company attitudes to hiring! Some firms are making the hiring process so cumbersome that both parties lose interest half way through the process. It’s not uncommon to see a candidate going through six or seven rounds of interviews, without receiving an offer at the end of the saga. Whilst other organisations are very quick to bridge the skills gap, recognising that finance departments need enough resources to operate effectively. The overwhelming message that we are receiving is that accountants are feeling jaded, given they are working harder than ever with less moral support and fewer resources. Now businesses are starting to see cracks appear and recruitment is back on the agenda. " It has largely been an employer’s market lately, where candidates have very realistic expectations and businesses have been able to secure strong candidates quickly. We are also seeing a fresh demand for niche skillsets, such as: Regulatory Reporting, IFRS 17, and Technical Accounting, which has led to competing offers and a shortage of candidates with the right skills. The projects that were put on the long finger are now back in focus.In contrast to the 2008 crisis, we haven't seen many redundancies within financial services firms. Nevertheless, businesses are reassessing what skillsets they require from senior finance leaders in this uncertain environment. Unfortunately we have seen some cost cutting at the very senior end of the market with opportunistic or knee-jerk removal of CFOs and Directors who may have been seen as an expensive luxury in a stale economy, however these people will be an absolute necessity to have in place when businesses return to growth mode. We’re expecting risk appetite to accelerate Going into spring 2021 we fully expect that positive news on a vaccine will spur a newfound confidence, and risk appetite will accelerate the need for additional resources and new expertise, leading to a war on talent. Our advice would be to really look after those star employees who you want to keep as they will be approached by other companies! If you are thinking about growing your team or department, it may be worth getting ahead of the game and kicking that process into action before you lose out, or have to pay salaries over the odds.If you are considering recruitment options, or want to discuss your own personal circumstances, then please feel free to call me for a chat on 079 6337 0126, or drop me an email.