The posting place for news and opinions of BrightPool, a specialist recruitment consultancy.
Comment 1

The future of Retail Banking at your fingertips

The Way We Bank Now study showed that there are over 7 million ‘log ins’ per day via internet-based banking technology and over £6.4bn is transferred per week using mobile and internet banking.

RBS and NatWest announced that its customers who use an iPhone 5 and 6 can now use the fingerprint recognition technology to access their accounts via their app.  Banking technology clearly saves customers time and money as they no longer really have to go to their branch in order to carry out their day to day banking needs.

This ethos behind RBS and NatWest’s reasons for using this revolutionary technology is the concept of making it easier and more convenient for its customers.  My immediate thought however is: “is it secure?”

It has been pointed out that there are limitations within the app which mean extra security verification is required for certain operations, such as making a payment. However, the customers would have access to basic features and details of their accounts.

Within days of Apple launching this technology, hackers had managed to get round it, which shows that no one truly understands the risks.  Apple told the BBC that the technology was not “a total replacement for traditional security measures”.

With this in mind, why would the banks replace the traditional username/password account security with such a technology?  Is it secure?  Would you feel that your account details and money are totally safe?

Lisa Smith is the Resourcing Consultant at BrightPool.

Comments 2

Help us Help you: Making your CV Reach the Shortlist

Following on from my colleague Amanda Whitehead’s blog last month on “Embellishment or Tailoring of CVs”, I wanted to expand more on what makes a good CV in terms of the BrightPool team and our search for suitable candidates.

More often than not we will be following quite specific search criteria to match the client’s requirements for vacancies, so here are the areas of the CV we will be looking at to decide whether to shortlist your CV or not:

  • Qualifications – GCSEs, A levels, degrees, financial diplomas and certificates, and professional qualifications such as ACA/FCCA.
  • Experience – do you have any experience in financial services?  Sometimes the client may require candidates to have worked for one of the Big Four or retail banking, insurance or pensions companies.
  • Past roles – we then look at the types of roles you have undertaken to see if you have experience in a similar role, i.e. complaints handlers, analysts, quality checkers, etc.
  • Keywords – finally we will drill down into the detail of the duties you performed in your past roles, so keywords matching the vacancy’s description are key (no pun intended).


On the subject of details, it is important that your CV matches the skills and experience we are looking for.  Some candidates write generic CVs and submit them for multiple job applications.  This may put you at a disadvantage as your CV may not show us that you have what we are specifically looking for.

As Amanda mentioned in her blog, it is equally important that candidates don’t try to make their CVs fit the job description with false information.  We are very diligent when screening candidates and referencing, so you will be found out.

Further tips for laying out your CV to make it easier for the consultants to shortlist you:

  • Make your CV easy to read.  Over complicated, and overly technical abbreviations can make it virtually impossible to pick out the detail we need.
  • Ideal layout is:
    • Personal Statement –stick to a concise paragraph.
    • Education – as mentioned above.
    • Career history – laid out with month and year start and end date, with the current role at the top, job title and organisation (add agency if relevant).
    • Job description – give concise details of your experience and duties for your roles in a bullet point format remembering to put in the keywords we’ll be looking for.  A good rule of thumb is to provide more information for your   most recent and relevant roles, and succinct details for the rest.
    • It is also important is to include any roles which you have done, which may not be relevant at all, i.e. roles you have taken on to keep money coming in such as shop work.  A brief description (date, job title, organisation and maybe a line about what you did in the role) will suffice as we need to see your continuous work history.  Demonstrating you have worked continuously will help us with the vetting process.
    • Contact details – make sure you have a daytime telephone number and an email address on your CV, so we can contact you to discuss role details further.

Finally, make sure your application is relevant for the role advertised; at least 50% of applications we receive sadly are not.

As ever, BrightPool looks forward to hearing from you and receiving your fabulous CVs.


Julie Boswell is the Resourcing Consultant at BrightPool.

Comments 3

Embellishment or Tailoring of CV’s

This blog leads on from my previous post about receiving replies to advertised roles. As discussed, a tailored CV can be the difference between being short listed or not. Although this is definitely what candidates need to do, it can present a whole new challenge for a recruiter. I thoroughly enjoy my role as a recruiter and finding an excellent candidate match for a client requirement is the name of the game. However, accomplishing this task requires more than just identifying a suitable looking CV and sending it to a client. Well, it does in my case anyway!

A CV needs to address the question of how suitable you are for the role for which you are applying; since every role and organisation is different you shouldn’t be afraid of tailoring your CV for each application. That doesn’t mean embellishing or inventing the experience you’ve got, but carefully selecting the most relevant experience for the position for which you’re applying and not being afraid to leave out the experience that isn’t.

In my day to day job I come across many CV’s where experience is invented. I have candidates who leave the client name and dates the same, but change the nature of the work to suit the advertised role. This can become apparent at pre-screen stage when candidates cannot back up their experience with examples and do not have the technical knowledge when probed. It is my job to weed these candidates out before they get in front of my clients. Another mistake they make applying for multiple roles with the same recruiter, but changing their CV’s!

Although a candidate may feel he/ she is capable of carrying out the role, and that may well be the case, it is not appropriate to embellish experience in this way. I do my utmost to identify such candidates and I can only hope my fellow recruiters take the same approach. Not doing so prevents many suitably experienced applicants from getting the roles and provides clients with poorly qualified candidates.

Amanda Whitehead is the Account Manager at BrightPool.

No Comments »

Threats to the traditional banking model and how this will shape the future of finance

It has been said many times that you don’t need a digital strategy, you need a strategy that is digital. This is a phrase which has shown to be true in a number of sectors and although Banks have been trying to keep up, today’s customers are used to engaging directly and immediately with retailers, and expect their needs to be anticipated across a range of products and services. They look for similar responsiveness in their bank as they do in their social media; and they won’t compare the mobile app to another bank’s, but to Facebook, Amazon or Uber.

The core competitive advantages that banks have previously employed to disarm new entrants have also been weakened, as their access to cheap funding via current accounts and their ability to cross-subsidise loss-leaders wanes in the shadow of new technologically-enabled competition. ‘Supermarket data driven’ or ‘online only’ Challenger Banks don’t need to offer the complex products of the ‘Big 6’ to take a market share of the current account or savings market.

It would seem therefore that the challenge for established banks does not lie in a  single new entrant or model emerging to dominate their market. Rather, the risk is that the combination of smaller challengers across various products will steadily erode their core markets, which will result in a more competitive banking sector. So, understanding and anticipating these threats is therefore key to retail banking’s long-term profitability.

The new entrants are agile enough to adapt to new technology or, in some cases, have been set up specifically to use them to their advantage: for example, Atom Bank, Tesco Bank or Starling Bank. Their hope is that competition from traditional banking institutions will be muted as they repair their damaged balance sheets and reputation. Start-ups with experienced bank management teams have found it relatively easy to secure investment on this premise and have been successful. Traditional banks, on the other hand, struggle to update their back-end technology while maintaining the stability required to service their current market share.

Independent aggregators, like, have positioned themselves as the go-to place for the cheapest or best products, supported by the provision of ‘best buy’ comparison tables and the network effects of the Internet. Such aggregators are looking to optimise customers’ financial holdings by analysing purchasing patterns across their customer base. This will undercut the competitive advantage that banks have historically enjoyed from privileged access to customer data; there is now a large, and growing, market for smaller banks and building societies who don’t have a national branch network, but who want to offer products to a nationwide market. This point also touches on the Supermarket banks who hold a huge amount of customer data on spending habits, which can be used to tailor their products and marketing far more than a bank has ever been able to, in addition to feeding trade back into the parent retailer.

The FinTech revolution and emerging business models, e.g. payment specialists like PayPal and Square, are using new technology to re-invent key elements of financial services, which will no doubt continue at an exponential rate to chip away at the edges of the banks’ markets. Another example of such technology-led disruption is the rise of the P2P ‘lenders’ – or exchanges – which bring borrowers and investors together in a highly cost-efficient manner. Although, it will be interesting to see how these cross-border lending activities are regulated, particularly from an AML and Financial Crime perspective; it would appear to be difficult to prosecute a website in the same way as you would a bank trading with a blacklisted country or group. Finally, as we have seen with Apple Pay, tech titans could enter the fray and, at least for specific markets, such as payments or unsecured lending, could also erode the establishment’s grip on the market. Of course, the real danger here is not that Google or Apple will one day support a banking subsidiary with a huge balance sheet. It’s that by innovating around it in support of their own core business, such a player could fundamentally undermine the traditional integrated bank business model.

Many of these trends are already fairly established but it will be interesting to see how they continue to disrupt the banking sector. I am keen to hear your thoughts on the challenges faced by the ‘Big 6’ UK Banks and how they can work to mitigate the erosion of market share by challengers in 2015.

Mike Smith is the Client Services Manager at BrightPool.

No Comments »

Can you feel the pressure?

We’re told we’re coming out of the recession and apparently have more disposable income.  So, with less than three weeks until Christmas Day will millions of people be going into the red through the pressure to spend?

Not without the influence of the big brands’ marketing campaigns in full swing, the pressure to shop, and shop big, for presents and food can be all-consuming at this time of year.  And this pressure doesn’t just come from the professionals either, but also our adorable little ones who innocently want to conform to their peers.

I’m guilty of buying too much myself and having to scrimp by in January, as despite me making notes of what Christmas gifts to get throughout the year I leave all my shopping till December, meaning my monthly salary is stretched beyond comprehension!  Yet, I’m probably one of the lucky ones who don’t have to add money to their credit card balance, take out a pay day loan, or forgo meals in order to buy presents and a turkey.

According to the Money Advice Service the average adult in the UK spends £540 on festive celebrations with the total retail spend in December by UK households expected to be £74.3billion with 1/3 of this being purely Christmas spend.  The Money Advice Service have conducted a survey where 30% of adults admit they will find it harder to afford Christmas this year than last.  Almost half of UK adults said they will resort to some form or credit to pay for Christmas and almost 1.4 million people saying they will request a pay day loan. See the full report here.

What are your thoughts on the constant pressure and demands on our bank balances at this time of year?  Is it worth having to pay back hundreds of pounds in APR just to have presents under the Norwegian Spruce?  Are we forgetting the real reason behind the ‘holiday’?

Lisa Smith is the Resourcing Consultant at BrightPool.

Comments 2

Is Your Credit Report Clean Enough to Eat Off?

Most of us are aware that marks on our credit report for defaults and CCJs can have an effect on obtaining financing, but now it can also have adverse consequences for future employment.  This phenomenon is becoming more evident for those seeking a career in financial services as the levels of credit checks, understandably, are getting more and more stringent.

During my time resourcing for FS clients, I’ve sometimes had excellent candidates that I haven’t been able to progress because of a credit check fail.  Often the candidates are unaware of a problem; after advising them to run a credit check via Experian, Equifax or similar services, it sometimes transpires there is a mistake on their report, commonly an issue with a telecoms service provider with disputes on contracts, etc.

This can be very frustrating for both the candidate and the resourcer.  For candidates, a mistake on their report – usually a small amount –  can mean they miss out on a job offer and future jobs until it is resolved.  As for the resourcer, they may have the perfect candidate for the role in front of them, and yet unable to place them.

Removing such mistakes from your report can be a time consuming and painful process, so it often helps to get the credit reporting service to play their part.

If you are thinking about working in the financial services sector or changing jobs within the sector, I would advise checking your credit report before you embark on applications as it may save you time and disappointment if something unexpected turns up in your credit file.  Perhaps it is an item to add to your New Year’s resolution list – check your credit report!

Julie Boswell is the Resourcing Consultant at BrightPool.

No Comments »

Fines, Legal Charges and Reforms….

On 17th November Mark Carney, the current Governor of the Bank of England, has indicated a radical overhaul of the way bankers are paid.

According to him, repeated fines for scandals, such as manipulating Libor and rigging foreign exchange rates, have not been sufficient or effective in changing behavior. He warned bankers they may lose more of their pay, in addition to forfeiting bonuses.

Changes to the way bankers are paid have previously been considered, and it was decided that bonuses should be paid in shares as well as cash and should be spread out over several years. This year the EU stipulated that bonuses for senior bankers ought to be capped at 100% of salary, or 200% with explicit approval from shareholders.

Mr Carney said that new measures were necessary in order to restore the public’s trust, which had been tested by taxpayer bailouts and a general perception that rewards are unwarranted.

However, if the current penalties aren’t working, surely they need to be re-evaluated? Is the threat of an increased fine enough on its own? Should bankers and governors also face individual criminal charges? Should they be banned if found guilty of personal wrongdoing? Or does the crux of the issue lie in the fact that the central banking system is desperately in need of a reform?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter – please do comment below!

Lisa Smith is the Resourcing Consultant at BrightPool.

No Comments »

A return to core banking?

After the 2009 financial crisis had settled and the banks took stock, it seemed that the way ahead for most financial institutions was to focus on their ‘core markets’. Financial organisations cut away the high risk assets and new divisions which had seemed so appealing in 2007 when the markets for them were so buoyant.

From personal experience recruiting in Japan in 2011, I know that for Credit Suisse in Asia it meant selling or closing much of their investment banking operations and using the money to buy and expand HSBC’s struggling Private Bank, meaning that they could in turn focus on their FX operations in the region.

Although my experience is somewhat anecdotal, this departmental merry-go-round happened around the world, with many major institutions focusing on the parts of their business which not only made them money, but were also low risk should the catastrophic happen again. Indeed, to compound the situation here the bailed-out UK banks had their hands forced into reducing ‘non-core assets’, which included everything from International branch networks to global aircraft financing, in an effort to balance their books and repay the taxpayer.

With the economies of the US and UK seemingly improving and getting back on track it surprised me to hear that, despite strong results, Citibank announced this week that it will withdraw retail operations from a number of countries, including Japan, to further improve profits although looking at the analyst’s numbers it seems to make sense.

While this may just be the tail end of the core market trend mentioned above, it has got me wondering if there is yet more ‘focus’ to come for banks or if, with the spectre of regulatory reform largely dealt with, banks will soon look to flow once more into the ‘new’ markets they have ebbed away from in the last few years?

I am keen to hear your thoughts on this. We at BrightPool are certainly seeing a demand for experienced staff who can design and implement new departments but as yet haven’t seen the need for these on a global scale, so it will certainly be interesting to see what the future holds.

Mike Smith is the Client Services Manager at BrightPool.

Comments 2

Bitcoins – can you make head or tail of them?

I hadn’t heard of bitcoins until my husband starting getting excited about this new digital currency about six months ago. I put it out of my mind as one of his geeky fads but as the topic is appearing in the news more and more, I thought I had better take an interest and find out more. Below is my basic summary of the world of bitcoins:

What are bitcoins?

Bitcoins are a digital currency. You can use them to pay for goods and services electronically and they have begun to be accepted more and more across Europe and the UK. You store your bitcoins in a digital wallet.

How do you buy bitcoins?

You can buy them through an exchange or from other people. There are brokers who are selling them in much the same way as stocks and shares. You can also ‘mine’ bitcoins but this requires a high performing computer and software that can solve complex mathematical problems. Once you have mined a bitcoin, you receive a percentage of the value of the coin like a finder’s fee.

What are the advantages of bitcoins?

  • Bitcoins can be used anonymously so no one is monitoring what you are spending your money on.
  • They are decentralised so they are not controlled or influenced by banks.
  • The limited supply means they are not affected by inflation or devalued by more circulation, and therefore their value will increase.
  • Its fast; you can transfer funds within ten minutes compared to many banking transfers.
  • It’s cheap as there are no transaction fees attached.


  • Bitcoins are not regulated so can be susceptible to fraud. There are already a number of case of groups of criminals using the currency for money laundering.
  • If the computer where your ‘wallet’ is stored is corrupted or damaged, you could lose all your money.
  • Wallets are susceptible to hackers.

To find out more about bitcoins, news and updates, visit

Julie Boswell is the Resourcing Consultant at BrightPool.

Comment 1

Bank Profits V Cost of Financial Crime

Recent FCA case studies within major UK Banks & Building societies identified some serious weaknesses in relation to AML risk management, particularly within High Risk situations. Three quarters of banks in the sample, including the majority of major banks, are not always managing high-risk customers and PEP relationships effectively and must do more to ensure they are not used for money laundering.

This has prompted organisations to review their AML policies, processes and controls in order to step up and avoid the hefty fines which could be imposed on them if they do not improve.

Recruiting contractors to work on such AML improvement programmes has opened my eyes to the wider human cost of Financial Crime; and the personal responsibility everyone working in the Financial Services market needs to take in order to combat it. This led me to think about the recent PPI and IRHP mis-selling claims where products have been incorrectly sold to customers in the attempt to hit targets and increase profits.

Do we have a similar situation here?

Increasing controls has the potential to reduce profits and organisations have been warned about this before. The FCA has had to intervene for a second time. Has it taken the threat of fines to stop a blind eye being turned to the potentials for money laundering?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Amanda Whitehead is the Account Manager at BrightPool.