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City Managers part three

"Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine." David Ogilvy

Unlike the once all powerful office manager, these new armies of managers who
invaded the City were ill-equipped to do the job, as they has little or no
experience and shallow industry knowledge. They were simply bright young chaps, with the latest management gobbledegook, fashionable at the time, who were able to turn the heads of boards and create an expensive but top heavy structure, dooming the firm in either short or long term. Managers that could once control and deal with problems directly were now insulated by whole departments and structures. A self-protecting model of incompetence.

Large banking intuitions, at the time were risk averse but were now suddenly
in the risk business and huge mistakes were being made. However, by this stage
the capability of managers to manage, had been diluted and it continues to be
diluted today.

The crash in 1987 broke the back of the operational managers and directly led
to a new breed of manager. All these new guys had accountancy skills in
abundance, but sadly lacked the knowledge and skills required to manage.

Accountants do not make great managers! I guess everyone will know what I mean and many will have experienced the downside of business being managed by an accountant.

Unfortunately, the reoccurring theme of my analysis is that knowledge and
experience of the industry you are working in, has been lacking and worse
undervalued for decades.

The disruption that bad managers can make should not be under estimated. In a
rapidly changing industry it is vitally important that managers are allowed to
manage and make decisions. One wonders today if managers have the confidence of the board to allow them to do their job.

As managers today within financial Services firms, do not manage! I do not
see today managers of people, or managers that understand the complete in-house or industry wide process. I do not see managers willing to take risks or
challenge convention. It may be that they are not educated enough in the
market's needs. It may be their general education has been terrific but has produced an unqualified novice in terms of the finance industry.

Fear is the nemesis of the successful manager, but today I see fear everywhere. Fear to make decision in case its wrong, fear of upsetting people and fear of losing a well-paid job. This breeds far too much job switching and a management inertia, which is just about the last thing we need in the markets today.

The solution is in the hands of the employers. They need to employ good man 
managers with broad industry experience that has depth in knowledge of the detailed processes and allow them to manage without fear. They need to invest in their staff, to develop them if not for their own business but a future competitor or client.

Managers are born not made and they should be sought from all walks of life. Talent can be found in many different places and although a higher education indicates a capacity to learn, it does not qualify someone to do any job and expectations should be limited.

I love management and it saddens me to see the managers of today floundering
and in almost a no win situation. We are in a fraught economic and market
situation where good managers are required and I do hope that firms will make
changes to their employment search and select policies and find the talented
managers that I just know are out there.        


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