• Jennifer Cahill

Financial Services firms and recruitment: retained or contingent?

Updated: Oct 30, 2019

While we offer both services, it is helpful to know from the outset which service is best for your firm and why. The following is a look at both forms of recruitment service and when one serves you over the other.

Risk Internal Audit Compliance talent for Financial Services SMEs in  Dublin, Frankfurt & Luxembourg
Savvi Recruitment

Contingency recruitment is where a number of agencies work in competition to source candidates for a specific role.

You the client only pay the recruiter who successfully fills the role.

As the recruiter, we have no guarantee of a fee and therefore the focus needs to be on delivering a number of CVs as quickly as possible to increase the odds of making a placement. In most cases, the candidates we represent are those that are actively on the market and open to opportunities.

In a contingency search, the role becomes widely known in the market as many agencies are advertising the role and talking to as many candidates as they can about the role to increase the odds of making a placement.

Ultimately you as the client have less control over the message the market is getting about your brand, your culture, and the role. When you are recruiting for more junior roles, this is an efficient approach to leverage.

Risk Internal Audit Compliance talent for Financial Services SMEs in  Dublin, Frankfurt & Luxembourg
Savvi Recruitment

For a strategic, senior hire a Retained Search is the most effective approach for many reasons.


You want specialist advice, guidance and consideration about your firm and the market. You want support crafting and delivering a brand message to the industry's best qualified candidates. You want someone who will carefully, and with consideration for many variables, fill your role with someone who will stay for the long term.


With a retained search, we as the recruiter are guaranteed a fee on the assignment so commercially we are able to invest significantly more resources and time into mapping the current market, assessing potentially suitable candidates (both active and passive) and presenting you with a long list of potentials that we can discuss together before targeting the agreed shortlist.


We ensure that only those selected candidates get to hear the details of the role so there’s much more confidentiality for you. First impressions count. If a number of agencies are contacting the same candidates, each with a slightly different “pitch” this can create confusion and a lack of clarity and ultimately, this can turn off the ideal candidates.


Senior candidates are much more comfortable dealing with a specialist search firm. They feel more secure in the confidentiality of the process and are more confident in the information they are receiving before even agreeing to enter the process.


Ultimately, you still pay the recruitment fee, but you have so much more control over the process and a greater chance of successfully filling the role, first time. The worst case scenario for any client is having to go back to market after an initial process has failed.

Candidates are always dubious of roles that re-appear on the market and it then becomes really difficult to engage with the right candidates.

To understand more about our Retained Search service and how it can help your firm secure the best talent, book our complimentary 90-minute workshop (link below).

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