As the financial services industry recovers from the recession, HR leaders at companies such as BNY Mellon and Invesco are re-examining their talent management programs and putting a new emphasis on corporate culture.

Following the recession, many executives in the financial services HR field began to question the industry’s focus on top-down management. At BNY Mellon, combining the firm’s traditional corporate structure with a new focus on talent management was an important part of its business strategy.

The global investment company has more than 50,000 people in 100 different locations, which makes culture and communication integral to its growth.

“We spend a lot of time thinking about culture,” says Sarah Allen, global director of HR strategy and talent solutions for BNY Mellon. “We really do try and reinforce the values.”

The company is in the process of implementing a year-long rotational development program, also known as a management training program, for interns and current employees.

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“We think it’s really important because it gives us a chance to offer a differentiated experience, and gives these new employees a chance to see the company from a completely different perspective, from a 360 [degree] perspective,” says Allen. She notes that BNY Mellon is also rolling out a new employee career center to foster development, networking and coaching for motivated employees looking to grow.

According to Nancy Lupinski, head of people development at Invesco, the company is developing numerous programs with a focus on its more than 6,000 employees.

“We are continuing our focus on robust talent management processes, with enhanced efforts related to leadership development, as well as succession and development planning for key roles,” she says. “We work closely with business leaders to target development solutions that accelerate top talent development.”

Identifying, developing and managing talent in an industry as complex and global as financial services is a constant challenge, says Chris Farbo, global leader of Towers Watson’s talent and rewards financial services practice.

“We’re seeing a difference now,” he says. “We’re seeing organizations challenging what have been the historic norms on the staffing pyramid. Do we really need that many seniors to this many middle managers to this many juniors or should we change the slope of that pyramid?”

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In a recent poll, Towers Watson found that approximately 44% of financial services companies said that identifying and developing talent would be the primary focus of their HR department over the next 12 months. Also, manager effectiveness, performance management and career architecture were cited by executives as being part of their 2014 HR roadmap.  

“I think the industry has been very good at creating very good vertical executives who know their particular area of expertise incredibly well,” says Farbo. “But, as I speak with executives in the industry and boards of directors, where they want the industry to go is having executives grooming talent with a broader horizontal perspective on the business, so they can see and understand the different pockets of activity that are taking place across what are increasingly global and very diversified business portfolios.”

Allen says BNY Mellon is launching a manager feedback component to its employee review process this year, which will allow employees to rate the effectiveness of their managers.

“The manager will use that as input into their professional development plan, but it’s something that our employees have asked for that we think will be pretty powerful,” Allen says. “It just ensures that greater two-way communication.”

Forty-two percent of respondents to the Towers Watson survey said both manager effectiveness and performance management would be the talent initiatives receiving the most attention over the next 12 months.

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