Khuram Bajwa, Partner, talks about One Ten Associates
One Ten Associates values are Connected, Trustworthy and Experienced – what do these values mean to you?
"For me connected, trustworthy and experience all exist collectively. It relates to how well we are connected to our clients and candidates and this overlaps with credibility and being trusted based on our experience. The ideal scenario is that we need to be well networked with our clients and candidates, but they also need to view us favourably – not only as someone’s first port of call for recruitment needs but as credible thought leaders in our space.
One Ten Associates is a name that is established in the sector, whether you're new to the sector or you've been in the sector for several years, we are a well-known entity and we’re extremely proud of this. As we work in a very niche sector, we are quite often the first person our clients call for their recruitment needs. Whether it is about recruitment or simply helping clients/candidates navigate their way through their respective careers, it’s great to have that rapport with both clients and candidates."
How do One Ten Associates try to either improve relationships with existing clients or build relationships with new clients? What can you personally do for them with based on your experience?
"Back when I started in recruitment the ethos was centred around wining and dining clients, so they’d come back to us. Fortunately, it’s not like that anymore. For me it’s beyond building business relationships but building more of a friendship. It’s about taking a personal interest in people and earning relationships rather than buying them and building that trust as you are the industry expert. We have empathy for our clients as we understand their situation and the culture of their firm which translates with us giving better advice or providing a better quality of candidates.
I think as a team we have all grown up in environments where the expectation around business development is very one-dimensional – cold-calling. This now feels very dated and clients generally may not welcome such an approach. We’d like to think we are a bit more pro-active in our approach and truly Partnering with clients to understand their needs and what suits them. We are fortunate that we receive a lot of network referrals or introductions which totally changes the dynamic and creates a warmer call. This makes it easier to build a level of trust and understanding.
Why does One Ten Associates only recruit for operational roles within the funds industry as opposed to front office roles?
"Taking it back to our values - as a team our experience and connections are centred around the finance and operations sector within the funds industry. Personally, I’ve been doing this for 13 years now so it would be dishonest and disingenuous for me to even try and pretend to be a recruiter for front office staff. We regularly experience clients leaning on us to understand how things could be structured or developed from a talent perspective or they may be interested to understand how other firms are approaching certain challenges. Often it can be simply a case of scoping what others in the market are doing. This is especially relevant for the small to mid-sized firms who may be seeking to invest in their teams to facilitate growth. If they're not going to events or talking to their peers, they're looking to us to be able to provide that information in a neutral way.
It's also really rewarding when you meet someone, for example a newly qualified accountant, and you almost go on their career journey with them. By the time they get to FD or CFO level, you realise you have gone full cycle and candidates become clients, looking to you to support their hiring needs. To me it’s counterproductive to have spent all these years nurturing those relationships to suddenly change tactics and recruit for areas where we cannot claim to be as knowledgeable."
How are you supporting candidates through the search process?
"I think first and foremost the key thing is to understand why a candidate isn’t happy and being a source of comfort. The first thing I always ask candidates is whether they have explored everything internally. If they have an issue around progression, I ask them if they’ve had conversations first with their line manager to resolve the issues. Quite often these frustrations can be improved through better communication. If this hasn’t worked, then it’s for me to work with the candidate to identify what we need to be looking for to improve their situation.
In terms of getting people through the search processes, the key is to show patience, understanding and almost take the journey with the candidate. There is no finite list to what we advise on but we can often talk through points including what the client is like, what questions they are likely to ask, what are the key traits they are looking for and what to avoid. You get to know this level of information when you work with clients over a long period of time. It's a lot of small points to advise the candidate on but when they're collectively put together they can have a big impact."