Sitting comfortably next to each other, two CEOs came together for a fireside chat at MarketFinance HQ to share their ideas, advice and experiences. These chats help us at MarketFinance get to know our customers even better; something we think is worth the time and effort.

For this fireside chat, we invited Lee Higgins, CEO of The Buy-Side Club to discuss the way his business is innovating talent strategy and recruitment. Anil Stocker, CEO of MarketFinance led the conversation.

From one thought leader to another

The Buy-Side Club is a unique subscription-based recruitment business that attracts top talent, working with some of the biggest names in financial services. These are big and demanding clients like Legal & General Investment Management, PIMCO, UBS and Invesco who consider only the very best candidates. Who better to supply this than a talent strategy company that believes in finding the right person for the right position. And who believes in genuinely finding the right placement that will benefit both employer and employee.

After years in the industry, Lee Higgins saw recruitment for what it had become: “selling people into a job, really pushing them aggressively so you can make your commission cheques.”

It occurred to Lee that there must be a better way of actually managing people’s careers. “So rather than pestering people and trying to make money out of them, you would actually get an understanding of their career aspirations and take away that selling aspect of recruiting”

Determination to succeed

So Lee set out to reinvent the system. With only a small team but a big passion and vision, they started The Buy-Side Club, working with clients over the long term with no individual placement fees, significantly reducing the cost of hiring for clients. “We were just a couple of people and I was much younger than I am now. I’m grey now,” he says laughing as he thinks back to the beginning.

Of course, it wasn’t all plain sailing. When Lee and the team started pitching to prospective clients, they heard a lot of “no’s” before they got their first “yes.” But with a little determination and a whole lot of hard work, they began signing big clients like JP Morgan and The Buy-Side Club was on the road to success.

Growing pains

The business was growing and Lee and his team were making waves in the industry. Like most businesses though, there comes a point when your growth can exceed your means. “At the time, we needed to hire more people and find new office space,” Lee explains. “We started to grow, not hugely in terms of people but even so, we went from a box service office to say 2000 square feet.”

Cash flow constraints were starting to become a challenge. If The Buy-Side Club wanted to make something happen or they wanted to extend a project, they had to wait for the cash to come in first. “Day-to-day, I was spending more and more time looking for cash flow. I was probably spending two-thirds of my week chasing invoices and you get to a point where you start to wonder if the stress is really worth it.’”

Easy solutions

Lee needed working capital to keep growing his business. He also needed to free up all the time he spent chasing invoices and regain control of his cash flow. That’s when The Buy-Side Club’s relationship with MarketFinance began.

“It felt like MarketFinance really wanted to get to know us, which wasn’t important for the banks,” says Lee. It was incredibly easy and once we were plugged in, our efficiency as a business was so much higher.”

The future is clear

Working with MarketFinance provided The Buy-Side Club with access to that much-needed cash flow and gave Lee his time back to really focus where he wants his business to go.

The Buy-Side Club has just launched a really exciting service for individuals that is already gathering huge momentum. It’s a paid professional network that gives its members valuable industry insight, career advice and introductions. The network is accessed via a secure portal and all members are vetted before they sign up. Members also get support from Client Partners who add the human touch that so many networks are lacking.

With a clear and ambitious vision for the future, Lee can step forward and lead an entire industry into a new era; creating workplaces that flow together.