As the nation's workforce trends younger and younger, asset management companies are joining other industries in trying to think outside the box toward attracting the next generation of fund managers, managing directors and other key employees.

With millennnials making up 36% of the nation's workforce, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, setting up incentives that go beyond just traditional salary will become increasingly important for hiring managers, says Tom McMullen, rewards practice leader at global consulting firm Hay Group. McMullen says an increasing number of companies are detailing the entire reward package with prospective hires in addition to compensation.

"A competitive compensation and benefits package gets a company a ticket to the race," says McMullen. "It is the total rewards portfolio that helps a company win the race with this group."

McMullen also emphasizes how the way a young employee's day-to-day workflow are designed can be critical to whether they come on board an asset management firm or not. Hay Group has conducted studies across many sectors in recent years, including with asset management, that have shown employees' comfort level at firms in terms of liking their work responsibilities and hours can often be just as important as compensation.

"Meaningful and interesting work is a key driver for today's talent, who tend to want to make an immediate impact in the organization along with ample opportunities to learn and develop," says McMullen. "Showcasing the organization's training and development program, onboarding programs and career development programs resonate with prospective talent."

Below are responses from some leaders of asset management companies on how their firms are working to attract today's young talent:

Mark Leary, chief human resources officer, MFS Investments

"MFS is able to attract younger talent to the industry in various ways. Of note, we participate with Northeastern University's co-op program, which provides six-month hands-on experience for college-age students across MFS. In the investment area, we have an MBA program, where master's candidates work at MFS for the summer, participate as members of our global research team, following companies and making investment recommendations. We encourage MFS employees as alums to actively recruit on college campuses for job candidates within the investments area. MFS has been a sponsor of women-oriented college campus activities as well, including the Simmons College Women's Leadership Forum, Mass. Conference for Women and The Cornell Women & Investing Conference. We have even sponsored a women's-only investing challenge at Harvard Business School.MFS works with and supports organizations like The Posse Foundation, The Robert Toigo Foundation and Year Up to reach out to diverse groups of talented high school and college students for summer internships. MFS also support through corporate sponsorship Squash Busters, an organization that exposes youth to the game of squash and provides mentoring and scholarship opportunities for disadvantaged youth."

Steve Savage, managing director, Litman Gregory

"We recognize that younger people would prefer a forward-thinking culture to one that is stodgy and conservative - this is easier to find in the tech world than the financial world but we see it as a way to differentiate in a very positive way.

We are committed to ensuring that everyone at Litman Gregory feels respected, trusted and valued, and are working hard to back that up including through 360 management and partner reviews that create accountability around these core values. Being forward-thinking means taking advantage of the flexibility that technology allows and allowing people to work from home and to use flexible hours, which we now do. This makes it is easier for our people to manage around hectic lives and is a win-win by saving commute times when it clearly makes sense to do so.

Affording flexibility also demonstrates that you trust your people. We believe in supporting employees with an interest in giving back, and share their sense of obligation to do so. We are rolling out time off for charity work as well as a program to match employee contributions to charities they are passionate about. And in terms of overall well-being, we are rolling out educational programs and workshops that we think will be of interest and helpful to our people."

Rusy Vanneman, CIO, CLS Investments

"The keys for hiring young talent are to create an environment where a new hire can become relevant as quickly as possible. This means relevant in terms of making and presenting investment decisions and having an impact on portfolios and client service.

An attractive work environment is also critical. It should be a growth-oriented culture where everybody on the staff is always trying to improve. Autonomy and flexibility - at least as much as possible - is also attractive to many.Some examples of new young hires becoming relevant early are to provide opportunities and responsibilities as soon as possible to see if they absorb the material and show the desire and capability to advance.

A junior analyst can move quickly into becoming an analyst, an analyst can quickly become a senior analyst, a senior analyst can become an associate portfolio manager. An analyst can get names into portfolios early in their careers, and even get involved in helping manage portfolios.We strongly encourage our analysts to enter and succeed in the CFA program and pass all three levels of the exam as quickly as possible. Our analysts also have the opportunity to go to various conferences, to use a variety of investment tools, and to cover different market segments.

We throw a lot at them. The expectation is that they'll embrace this challenge, work hard, and in turn become better investment decision-makers."

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