Firms unite to promote vet hiring
- Last Updated: 11:30 PM, April 15, 2012
- Posted: 11:30 PM, April 15, 2012
With the unemployment rate for Gulf War vets at 12.1 percent in 2011, many firms have reacted by actively recruiting vets into their ranks.
Count Wall Street among the bunch.
Five major finance firms — Bank of America, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs — have formed Veterans on Wall Street (VoWS), a coalition that helps them share tips on hiring veterans, mentoring them and raising money for veteran-oriented charities.
”The way this works is, I might get a call from a colleague at Goldman Sachs who met with a corporation that’s looking to attract veterans,” says Suni Harford, regional head of North American markets at Citi. “I’d pull together the team we have here and sit down with representatives of that company and walk them through what we do.”
Such cooperation is unusual for firms in a competive industry, she notes. But the coalition is a tangible manifestation of what had long been an informal network of veterans in the finance industry, says Chris Perkins, an executive at Citi.
“The bottom line is veterans know how to find veterans, and once they come to us, we have an institutional approach to vetting these guys to see if they’re a right fit and getting them in front of hiring managers,” he says.
At Deutsche Bank, the results are showing. Twenty percent of its 2012 class of associates is veterans, according to Frank Fehrenbach, a managing director. And the benefits have been great, he adds, noting that veterans’ combat-honed ability to assess risk is “a hand in a well-fitting glove for financial services.”
Mentoring vets is part of the program as well. At Citi, mentoring is modeled on the military’s program of taking care of its own when a soldier is transferred to a new base, according to Perkins, who was a captain in the Marines and saw combat in Iraq.
”When you land at a new station there’s a marine waiting to tell you this is where you buy groceries, here’s where you live,” says Perkins. “My mentoring starts even before he’s sitting at the desk. We have weekly calls. I talk to him about the markets, and about the job itself.”
VoWS volunteers say the idea of hiring veterans is being woven into the fabric of the finance industry.
”That’s the strategy — for it to permeate,” says Fehrenbach.