Pensions. Brilliant stuff.
Nothing more cheery than thinking about whether you’ve got enough tucked away to make sure you don’t starve before you die of something else.
As someone who has been looking at pension arrangements lately it’s apparent that you have to try and make sure you have a balanced element of risk when you’re sorting out where to invest. Do you target your fund on those global markets offer a better rate of return, albeit at a higher risk to your money? Or do you instead look at less volatile areas which provide greater security but without the possibility of making any stratospheric gains.
It’s a bit of a balancing act, but generally people will make some effort to spread the risk. Putting some money on those high return areas on the hope of making a quick buck, with other funds in medium-to-low risk markets, spreading the investment to ensure that not all of your eggs are in one basket. That way if one goes down you still have other irons in the fire which you can bring into place.
And what does any of this have to do with the legal recruitment market?
Fair point, but stay with me.
When it comes to legal recruitment we are only too aware that for some candidates it can be a wrench to decide to move firms, particularly if they have been with the practice for a number of years. However experience has taught us that the worst thing that you can do is to make a half-baked effort at it, hence when we are working with solicitors, partners and teams who are looking to move we make a point of putting as many serious opportunities in front of them as possible. This isn’t a ‘seeing what sticks’ mindset, but is a carefully considered and strategic approach of matching the candidates’ aspirations with the strategies and ambitions of the various firms.
There is an understandable reluctance amongst partners to be thought of as ‘on the market’ and occasionally they will reject this advice, preferring to only speak to one firm at a time, taking things through to a conclusion and then deciding whether to accept or reject an offer. Good idea?
In fact, it’s just about the worst approach you can take.
Look at it this way. You’re booking a holiday; do you a) look at a number of locations, and a number of different accommodation options in those locations, including reading reviews and getting prices? Or do you b) pick one hotel, almost at random, without checking facilities, prices, reviews, what is nearby to keep you occupied, etc. but just turn up there with bags in hand?
Of course you wouldn’t, and that’s only you doing your due diligence for a fortnight of your life; what about the place you are going to spend ten hours a day, five days a week?
Put simply, if you are thinking of putting all of your eggs in one basket then you run the risk of seriously limiting your options. If you have indeed decided that your career needs to move forward then your best choice is to sit down with a legal recruiter and discuss exactly what you are looking for, from size of firm and type of client base through to ambitions and ethos of the practice. Any recruiter worth their salt should then be able to outline a number of firms which match up with your aspirations, and hopefully facilitate meetings based on this.
There are any number of clichés which can be thrown in here along the lines of “it’s good to talk”, “talk is cheap”, etc but in principle it is true. Often it can be difficult for people to realise that meeting with a particular firm it is not a legally-binding contract that if they then offer you a job that you have to join them! It is literally a case of talking to a key contact who can tell you more about what the practice is seeking to do which, more often than not means that a firm is a more attractive option than it initially appeared.
Indeed recently we were involved in a team move where two partners were initially reluctant to speak to one particular firm, instead preferring two other practices based on their own preconceptions. Sure enough after discussions with the two preferred options and then later with our suggested firm it turned out that this was in fact the best opportunity for them, a point which was only realised by having conversations of this very nature.
So in conclusion? Well, the choice to only look at one option at a time is a matter of personal choice, and in fairness sometimes there are only one or two firms which do actually represent that move forward which you are seeking. However if you are going to move, make sure that you do it wholeheartedly and explore as many options as you can; if you don’t then you are only limiting your ambitions to your own preconceptions and a certain amount of hearsay.
Your recruiter can then advise you through the process, the offer and the negotiations involved. Unless of course it involves the nitty-gritty of sorting out your pension arrangements, in which case you’re on your own!