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8 Years in 8 Questions with Paul Clayton

Compliance & Risk recruitment expert, Business Manager, father of two, gym fanatic…

Paul Clayton recently celebrated his eighth work anniversary as part of the MERJE team. With all that expertise behind him and his recent promotion to Business Manager within Compliance & Risk Management, we thought it time to catch up on what’s going on in his world.

From a day in the life, to market insights, to some life lessons, check it all about below.

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Paul’s expertise | Market insights | Advice for clients and candidates | MERJE journey so far | Promotion! | A day in the life | Career advice | What's next?

Remind us, what is it you do again?

I specialise in recruiting in the Financial Services sector with a specific focus across the Wealth Management space. It’s a very vibrant and lively market with a varied mix of small and large firms which means there are plenty of career routes to take within it.

I’ve managed to entrench myself and make my mark by getting a full understanding of the different roles that are involved within this space, whether that’s Paraplanners, Business Quality professionals, T&C Consultants or pure Compliance candidates, to name a few.

It’s also important to fully understand the different qualifications involved in the Wealth arena, so I’m confident when speaking with candidates whether or not they’re going to be the right fit for the role in question.

What’s going on in your market right now?

There a plenty of opportunities out there at the moment; the main challenge is finding suitable candidates that are open to a new role.

When the pandemic first started, understandably, businesses instantly stopped recruiting and put most future plans on hold as they dealt with the here and now.

With most companies hesitant to recruit and scrambling to protect themselves while the world was shutting down, this led to mass redundancies and a huge amount of candidates actively looking for roles but very few opportunities out there for them.

Now, the situation has flipped on its head. Businesses are picking up where they left off, as well as looking to fortify their teams for the future, but individuals are hesitant to change jobs at a time that still seems risky.

What advice can you give in response to this?

I would say that hiring managers need to listen to what people want in order to attract the best talent. We know that flexible working holds far more significance now, and there are many other things that people have re-prioritised over the course of the pandemic.

It isn’t simply based on what salary is being offered anymore, but the overall benefits, career prospects and how an employer treats its workforce during the difficult times.

In addition to this, younger people rising through the workforce, including Gen Z, tend to be more interested in entering firms which balance a thriving workplace culture with a social purpose, such as showing a commitment to ESG, combating climate change and valuing CSR.

It is vital not to ignore these notions because they’re not going away any time soon, and putting them at the forefront of your recruitment strategy will differentiate you from the crowd.

Candidates can check out our recent article, ‘Is now the right time to change jobs?’, which discusses some of the many benefits of looking for a new role in this climate.

Eight years with MERJE, congrats! Tell us about your journey so far…

I started at MERJE in 2014 as a Resourcer with no experience in recruitment. With training and support from the highly experienced team members here, I picked up the nuances of specialist recruitment in no time.

It took me around a year or so to really get to grips with my role and start establishing my network of Compliance professionals. Once that was in place and I was speaking to people on a regular basis, I really developed my skills for truly understanding and delivering what candidates and clients need.

After three years, I was promoted Consultant which then involved speaking to and generating my own client base. This presented an entirely new learning curve but one that I was glad to take on and the journey from there to Senior Consultant, Principal Consultant and where I am now has been fantastic.

And another promotion in the bag!

After 8 years with the business and plenty of hard work, training and support in progressing my career, I’m very happy to have been promoted to Business Manager.

This means, as well as continuing my devotion to providing expert hiring and job searching services to clients and candidates, I now adopt a more active approach to knowledge sharing with the team and supporting the development of junior members of staff, just as I have been supported throughout my time here.

The Business Manager role also comes with having a hand in the strategic direction of the business as a whole, getting involved in meetings with the rest of the leadership team, identifying opportunities to improve our services and suggesting ideas to help us achieve our goals as a team and a company, which is really exciting!

What does a typical day look like for you?

The mornings are always busy when you have kids and it all starts with getting my two ready and dropping them off at school and nursery. One of the great things about MERJE is that they don’t bat an eyelid when it comes to offering people the scope and flexibility to strike a really decent work/life balance, so I get to wave them off and head to the office without any added time pressures!

Even though we have the flexibility to work from home, I prefer being in the hustle and bustle of the office, so I do that most days. On arrival, I check in with my colleagues and catch up on emails from the previous day.

Given how buoyant the Compliance & Risk space is at the moment, my day mainly consists of communicating with clients and candidates, whether that is building relationships, arranging interviews, identifying career opportunities, advising hiring strategies or just having a good chat about the job market, football or something else.

While days can get very busy, I always make time to go to the gym at lunch as it gives me the headspace I need to decompress and think about what I need to do during the afternoon. A few of the MERJE team head over to the gym each day so we tend to coordinate workout plans and share fitness tips often, which is fun!

Share some of your wisdom with us…

As I look back on my career and its evolution, I’d say my key takeaways have been:

The importance of relationships

Coming into recruitment, I never fully understood what building relationships meant. Over the past eight years, it’s become increasingly apparent that to be successful in most career paths, you need to build relationships with candidates, clients, colleagues… anyone you’re liaising with!

Particularly in recruitment, building long-term partnerships and trust means when a candidate progresses their career and becomes a hiring manager, they will remember you for being a decent person, not just a good recruiter, and become a client as well.

Building resilience

The recruitment industry and the markets we work in definitely have their ups and downs and sometimes things happen that are completely out of your control. It’s key to try not to dwell on the negatives, learn what you can and focus on moving forward in a positive way.

Being approachable

Whomever you’re working with in your career, it is important that they feel confident in being able to speak to you to address their needs. Whether that is candidates and clients asking you about looking for a new role or hiring, or your colleagues needing support or guidance. The secret is showing people that you’re working for the greater good, for the success of everyone involved or the business as a whole, and not just to protect your own interests.

What’s up next for you?

The promotion was a wonderful step in my career progression after I enjoyed my best ever professional performance in 2021. In 2022, I hope to continue developing my experience across Compliance & Risk and, if I can beat my performance in 2021 then great!

In the next five years, my driver is to play a key role in continuing MERJE’s growth and success so that we can keep smashing targets and creating great opportunities for the wider business. We have big ambitions and I’m excited to play my part in helping us achieve them!

If you’re looking for your next career step or hiring within the Compliance or Risk arenas, or maybe you just need some recruitment strategy advice, get in touch with Paul to see how he can help: