As all HR professionals will attest to, talent attraction and retention is becoming increasingly difficult. Competition for the best individuals is rife, global mobility is impacting talent pools and professionals are looking for much more than financial motivation.

However, it’s perhaps fair to say that the financial services arena is one of the hardest hit sectors when it comes to recruitment challenges. The global financial crisis of 2008 has led to a perception of untrustworthy businesses that has, in turn, shifted the industry into the ‘unpopular’ group. It could also be argued that this fact is truer for emerging generations than any others. Given that one of the reasons millennials gravitate towards an organisation is its great CSR reputation, the misconceptions about financial services will cause many to avoid it. So how can this challenge be turned on its head?

The Job Post recently held an event with hiring managers and HR professionals from leading brands such as RBS, Towers Watson, The Financial Conduct Authority, Deutsche Bank, Accenture, Morgan Stanley, Capgemini and Visa Europe to address this very problem.

The sheer scale of the issue became very clear in a survey of attendees. Very few employers felt equipped to attract and retain the right range of talent due to a disconnection with the emerging generation, with 47% stating that they currently struggle to attract, and engage with, millennials. A further 33% acknowledged that, where the organisation does recruit from the emerging talent pool, retaining these individuals is difficult.

Given that there is significant growth planned in the financial services arena over the next year – with 67% of those surveyed expecting to increase headcount during this period – HR professionals need to be in a better position to attract candidates from beyond the traditional talent pools; digital experts, for example.

As became very clear at the event, the most crucial step in achieving this is to change the perception of the industry and demonstrate the wide spectrum of opportunities that are available in financial services. The way to do this is to develop a more compelling employee value proposition that tells an engaging story and appeals to this audience.

As several speakers alluded to on the day, the biggest hurdle for those that the sector is looking to hire is in identifying the real opportunity that is presented by a career in financial services. Beyond the perceptions created by the global banking crisis, many other misconceptions appear to be prevalent, including the belief that it is an old fashioned, male-dominated arena.

In fact, as those in the industry know, there is a huge variety of opportunities available with many financial institutions, but what is lacking is perhaps the effective communication of this information. What this talent pool is looking for is examples of how the business encourages innovation and diversity. Perhaps more importantly, though, these individuals want to hear the human angle, rather than the corporate messaging.

For HR teams it is now vital to tap into the existing workforce to create compelling, human interest stories. Only by speaking to employees and encouraging them to share their views and experiences of the business will it be possible to build a narrative that is honest, authentic and avoids platitudes. And it can’t be overlooked that employees can reach a wider audience than an organisation’s marketing team. Empowering these individuals to get their message out in the public domain will only aid talent attraction.

By creating a truly compelling EVP and communicating this in a manner that is tailored to the specific wants and needs of targeted groups like millennials, it’s possible to not only challenge the current misconceptions, but also more successfully compete for the very best candidates.