Based on recent hiring trends, a sea change has begun to revive certain sectors of the U.S. economy. For the payments industry, where hiring has picked up at a faster pace than in the general economy, new opportunities have surfaced for matching career-minded professionals with companies positioned for growth, according to Impact Payments Recruiting, which is reportedly the industry's largest recruitment and placement firm.
"Two years ago, our clients were investing in sales positions to increase revenue immediately to get them through some tough times," said Curt Hensley, Chief Executive Officer of Impact Payments Recruiting. "What we started to see as of 2010 were more executive, operational and product positions, where our clients were reinvesting longer term into their companies. We've not only seen an increase in the number of jobs, but more importantly, the type of jobs we're working on."
For an industry that's endured market compression, increased government regulation and shrinking margins, the positive news is welcome. As hiring levels continue to rebound, the horizon for payments is especially auspicious. J.T. Driscoll, Impact's President, believes that while "innovation has outpaced the market compression and consolidation of the industry" those involved with payments still need a strategic advantage to thrive.
The company was launched as CSH Consulting Inc. in August 2000 and changed its name to Impact Payments Recruiting in March 2010. "We are a very effective recruiting resource, but our bigger objective is to change the way that business is done," Driscoll said when the new name was revealed. "Rather than putting our primary focus on the bottom line, we are committed to creating win-win situations with our staff, candidates, clients, vendors and even competitors."
Ten years ago, the payments industry was a flourishing growth industry, Hensley noted. Today, nearly 60,000 interviews and 1,800 job placements later, Impact has emerged as a niche leader, placing as many as 30 payment professionals in any given month, he added.
The company maintains an active database of approximately 70,000 payment professionals ready to fill specialized roles with ISOs, processors, financial institutions, POS manufacturers and payment gateway providers, among others. The database includes talent the recruiting team has interviewed and established relationships with over time. Impact adheres to a strict confidentiality policy with the information it receives from clients and candidates.
Payment professionals in all segments of the industry can complete a profile on the company website, even those not actively seeking employment. When an opportunity arises that matches a candidate's profile, the candidate is contacted by a member of the recruiting team. Hensley recommends that candidates maintain an active presence on the company's network, because some positions are listed exclusively with Impact and can't be viewed anywhere else.
In modeling its business, the company often refers to a quote by Lee Iacocca: "In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words: people, product and profits. Unless you've got a good team, you can't do much with the other two."
Expounding on that, Driscoll said, "We really think it all starts with getting the top people. If you look at the very biggest ISOs that aren't bank related that have grown over the last 10 years to be top 20 acquirers, we've played a good part in hiring senior people in all of them.
"I thoroughly believe the companies that are willing to invest in finding the top 20 percent performers, versus those who don't, that there's a huge difference in how the companies will perform over time."
Driscoll feels that companies that rely on more generic job websites for employee searches generally will attract either the unhappy or the unemployed, whereas a search firm like Impact has "the ability to network within industry competitors and draw from the best people." In his opinion, this is the best way to develop a company exponentially to surpass competitors, because it has the talent necessary to make it happen.
One thing that sets Impact apart as a recruiting firm is the depth of its search process. Hensley explained that a typical search entails reviewing about 100 potential candidates, conducting in-depth interviews with the top 20 and, from that group, selecting the top three to present to the client company. The company facilitates the entire hiring process, from scheduling interviews between candidates and clients to coordinating employment offers.
While Impact does cull from its extensive database for talent searches, the company doesn't stop there. "That's not the main way we find people," Hensley said. "Typically, we approach senior level executives within the companies we trust and ask them, 'Who is the very best person for this position that you know?'" Recruiters will then conduct an interview with the recommended candidate to determine the level of interest and proceed accordingly.
Another way Impact connects with potential candidates is by attending industry tradeshows. "We went to the WSAA last week," Driscoll said. "We send multiple people to almost every show in the industry, so we get to meet a lot of these folks in person, which is a dynamic advantage of using an industry-specific firm that has the kind of bandwidth that we do. There are not a whole lot of firms that can say that."
Throughout its existence, Impact has assisted hiring agents and managers with a variety of searches to pinpoint expert talent to fill sales, operational, technology and executive leadership positions. According to Hensley, the company has conducted talent searches for just about everyone in the payments industry, from the largest companies down to the smallest niche players and startup companies.
He said there are generally two types of clients that retain the company's services. The first type includes well-developed companies that are doing well financially, value top performers and are looking to enhance their team. The second type encompasses well-funded smaller companies that realize from past experience enlisting top performers will help them grow a solid company.
Most clients prefer to pay a retainer to Impact rather than hire employees on a contingency basis, Hensley said. Fees are paid by the hiring company based on a percentage of the salary of the person being placed.
The fee structure takes into account the size and duration of the hiring project. For larger projects, where multiple placements might be involved, the company assigns three or four recruiters to draw candidates from its substantial talent pool.
For job-seeking payment professionals considering the benefits of working with a recruiter, as well as for payment companies seeking information about the rationale for outsourcing recruiting efforts, Hensley authored a series of articles on the subject for The Green Sheet. Of particular interest for employers are "The how, when, why of recruitment outsourcing," Oct. 13, 2008, issue 08:10:01, and "Ten keys to superior employee selection," Nov. 10, 2008, issue 08:11:01.
Although it's more difficult now for individual entrepreneurs to self-fund a growing ISO or processor, Driscoll believes opportunities exist because the recurring revenue model the payments industry produces continues to attract equity investment firms. "They take entrepreneurial executives and plug them in as senior executives," he said. "Quite a few organizations have developed in this manner over the past year. We're seeing this trend right now."
Recalling other recent developments in payments industry hiring, Driscoll said, "We've definitely been serving folks in prepaid, ACH and mobile payments over the past three years. We've done multiple ATM searches. We're doing more on the issuing side than we did a few years ago. We even have a recruiter who specializes in those positions."
Barring another economic setback, Impact projects further expansion in payments industry hiring in the coming year. The company has even expanded its recruiting team over the past 12 months to manage the increased hiring activity that it has seen among a broad spectrum of companies industrywide.
"We're looking at some gigantic projects," Driscoll said about the coming year. "We've been retained by multiple companies looking to hire over a thousand people that our senior recruitment team is currently in contact with. We definitely see the payments industry moving forward in 2011."
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