Answering the “Stability Question”

Because of the current environment in the banking industry, one of the top three questions I am asked by candidates has to do with the stability of the hiring institution.  Good candidates are going to have questions about the current health and stability of the bank, and the bank’s longer-term view of how to compete and grow in this climate.

It is important for hiring banks to recognize that this is a topic that needs to be addressed.  Regardless of a bank’s situation with capital position, asset quality or regulatory involvement, don’t put the onus on the candidate to pry this information out of interviewers. In my opinion, proactively addressing current challenges, areas of strength, and (most importantly) plans for recovery and growth establish a relationship that benefits both the candidate and the bank.

Strong candidates will be looking for leadership, execution, cohesion among the team and growth opportunity as they evaluate whether to make a move. Even if your bank is experiencing some significant challenges, clear communication about your plan to capitalize on your strengths moving forward will impact a candidate’s decision to join your organization.

Several other points to keep in mind as you recruit in the current environment:

  • Be sure to communicate how your issues and plans directly impact the goals and objectives of the role for which the bank is hiring.
  • Remember that candidates are in a variety of situations – some are with healthy banks and some are with banks in a more tenuous situation.  Carefully consider the motivators for the candidate and align them with what your bank has to offer.
  • Many candidates are inquiring about the possibility of downside protection as part of their compensation package.  TARP and a bank’s regulatory situation can limit the options in terms of change in control and severance.  Be sure that you seek counsel and know what your options are before you begin those discussions.

To sum it up – Banks that have a strategy for competing and growing in the new environment, are proactive and transparent in the search process, and align a candidate’s motivators with what the bank has to offer will be most successful in recruiting the right talent to help grow their organizations.