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Between the new aspirations of youth and pressing societal issues, how the finance sector meets expectations

On the sidelines of HEC's international Finance 2022 forum, we met with two partners at Rothschild & Co, Noémie Villeroy and Arnaud Joubert. Against the backdrop of the great resignation, bifurcation, climate crisis, social inequalities, they describe the Group's strategy and the evolution of their banking and financial activities. These are key arguments for recruiting and retaining young talent.

Entre nouvelles aspirations des jeunes et enjeux sociétaux, comment le secteur de la finance répond aux attentes - Entretien avec deux associés chez Rothschild & Co

Noémie Villeroy is Managing Director, Global Advisory at Rothschild & Co, and an HEC Alumna, Master in Management (H.07)

Arnaud Joubert is Partner Partner, European Co Head Debt Advisory & Restructuring Rothschild & Co, and HEC Alumnus, Master in Management (H.98)


With the arrival of Generation Z on the job market, do you see a change in career aspirations?


Noémie Villeroy : Depuis quelques années, nous avons constaté une évolution des aspirations professionnelles des jeunes étudiants.

The professional aspirations of young students have been changing in recent years.

Students are seeking meaning and want occupations that offer both fulfilment and a good work/life balance. They aspire to a more collegiate, convivial way of working, and like inclusive companies that favour diversity and gender equality.

People of this generation are becoming aware of climate issues at an increasingly young age. They expect their employer to be responsible and committed, and to take ESG criteria into account.

Their quest for meaning is accompanied by the desire for a flexible, agile work environment that facilitates remote working and geographical mobility. To attract tomorrow’s talent, companies must pay attention to the wellbeing of their staff on a day-to-day basis.

 

The rapid, large-scale transition to a low-carbon economy provides an incentive for industry participants to reinvent their role in stimulating the real economy

 

Faced with economic, environmental and social issues and the aspirations of young graduates, how are the sector and the finance professions evolving?


Arnaud Joubert : The finance and banking industry has the responsibility of steering the economy towards meeting collective targets and combating global warming. The rapid, large-scale transition to a low-carbon economy provides an incentive for industry participants to reinvent their role in stimulating the real economy. They need to find better ways of measuring the impact of economic activity and investments, and make it easier to allocate resources to the most economically effective projects, i.e. to guide the economy towards sustainability, high performance levels and energy frugality. There are several ways of doing this:

 

  • By supporting and developing the new activities that are necessary for a low-carbon economy, as with the shift to renewable energies. Huge sums of money must be found in record time if we are to limit global warming.
  • By helping major players in the fossil fuel economy to achieve a responsible transition.
  • By supporting disruptive innovation, devising bolder and more effective financing mechanisms far upstream of the R&D phase.


Rothschild & Co’s role is to provide instruments, expertise and people in order to meet specific targets.

We embrace diversity and we are making faster progress in this area. We must create an environment that fosters a good work/life balance.
We pursue these convictions through practical initiatives within the Group:

  • We have signed France’s gender equality agreement in accordance with our Balance and Inclusion Strategy.
  • We have made genuine commitments in terms of recruitment, classification, people’s actual incomes and the balance between professional responsibility and family life.
  • We have also adopted an agreement on quality of life at work, which includes commitments regarding maternity and paternity leave and support for people returning to work afterwards. We are therefore working hard to address these matters.

 

 

What are your assets to attract these young graduates, to value them and to retain them?


Noémie Villeroy : Rothschild & Co is committed to cultivating a culture of collaboration, with the focus on inclusion and respect for others, and to contributing to a society in which everyone has the chance to achieve fulfilment. We carry out an annual survey of our staff members on matters regarding work/life balance and inclusion, through which we can measure the effectiveness of initiatives taken by the Group to create a working environment that is balanced and open to all, and welcome the thoughts and suggestions of our staff members. The 2022 survey showed that a large majority of staff members regard their working environment as inclusive, and the Group is using the survey results to identify topics for discussion in the next few years.

 

It is vital to create opportunities for increasing our staff members’ awareness of good environmental practices and commitment to them.

 

The Group’s ambition is to ensure balanced representation and achieve greater diversity in terms of outlook and experience at all levels, and particularly at the highest levels of the Group where these factors affect decision-making more directly.

It is vital to create opportunities for increasing our staff members’ awareness of good environmental practices and commitment to them. The Group has led numerous initiatives and campaigns around climate risks.

Every staff member is also encouraged to take part in R&Co4Generations, the Group’s philanthropy platform. This platform aims to put future generations at the heart of its plans by giving young people, particularly those affected by social inequalities and/or the effects of climate change, the resources to drive social and environmental change. R&Co4Generations forms part of a culture of philanthropy that is deeply embedded in the Group. It is directly rooted in a family tradition that has spanned the centuries. Our staff members show a real appetite for taking part in the Group’s philanthropic efforts, with more than 40% of them supporting a cause in 2022.

 

 

How has your management of employee well-being and relationships in the workplace evolved since Covid?


Arnaud Joubert : The global pandemic has provided a catalyst for change in attitudes and agile working practices. As employees in offices around the world have returned to the office, the Group has taken the opportunity to incorporate more agile ways of working and is considering making them a part of our normal working patterns over the long term. While some people say they do their best work in the office, others feel more productive when working remotely. The Group therefore believes that maintaining agile and flexible working patterns is good for our staff members, allowing all of them to be efficient and dynamic in delivering exceptional client service.