Richard Rowntree, managing director of mortgages at Paragon Bank, is part of a City of London government-backed taskforce, which aims to boost productivity by focusing on performance of employees rather than their background.
Research carried out by the initiative found 88 per cent of senior roles in the financial services were held by people of higher socioeconomic backgrounds, despite those coming from similar backgrounds only making up a third of the entire UK population.
Speaking on the podcast, Rowntree said: “There’s a big talent pool we’re missing out on. There’s a huge opportunity to really tap into that and give people a chance to establish themselves and show what they can do.”
He said it was also important to nurture this talent after giving people their first opportunity, as a quarter of people coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds progressed slower than their peers.
It was suggested this could be down to the differences in upbringing, which could be a hindrance to those who do not fit in.
Rowntree said the sector needed to break the habit of “employees becoming exhausted by efforts to conform to dominant cultures they’re going into in financial services.”
Often, the sector looks for employees with a certain level of practice in the industry but Rowntree said a rethinking of the recruitment process needed to be had.
“Typically, what you’re looking for when recruiting is experience and qualifications. I think there’s an opportunity to bring people in earlier, maybe in more junior roles,” he added.
He also said sponsorship, apprenticeships and schemes could be useful in finding those with softer, relevant skills which are often overlooked.
Huy Le, mortgage manager at Dynamo Mortgages said as someone from an East Asian background who was raised in Tottenham, went to a comprehensive school and did not have a degree before entering the industry, it was down to him to show others the progress that could be made.
He eventually earned his degree while working at Halifax through a sponsorship.
As those from a similar heritage are not always encouraged to go into financial services, Le said: “People like me, we have an opportunity to show what can be achieved.
“Seeing people that have come through this with a lived experience that look and think like me, obviously is a big motivator to get people interested in the first place.”
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