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Investment Banks Seek Operations Talent From Outside The Industry

Investment banks are trying to become leaner and meaner by hiring operations staff from other industries.

Goldman Sachs is the latest to cast its net outside the familiar financial services waters, advertising for experienced staff to join its operations function and inviting applicants from the public sector, the military, accounting, engineering and manufacturing.

"A lot of banks are looking for outside staff at the moment," says Mike Hartwell, managing director of operations-focused search firm Hartwell Buck in London. "They're interested in a different skillset. There's a bigger emphasis on commercial acumen."

Hartwell says Goldman's strategy is part of a wider trend: "When you're manufacturing something, you're trying to manufacture it for the cheapest possible price," he notes. "In operations you're trying to achieve settlements for the cheapest possible price. Banks are looking for people who can achieve those efficiencies."

Black belts in the Six Sigma cost-cutting methodology are a hot ticket in banking, Hartwell says, adding that GE Capital is considered a prime place to poach them from. At the same time, he says outsourcing has created demand for project managers from the likes of Ford Motor Company, who are used to dealing with vendors and service level agreements.

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