During a time when companies increasingly find competent, dedicated staff hard to come by, the most recent results from an ongoing study by PricewaterhouseCoopers about job satisfaction at financial service companies found that management-level employees may be more loyal to a good mentor than to their firms.

Nearly 60% of those surveyed last quarter said they would be willing to leave their company and follow a helpful mentor to another firm. The results illustrate that management-level employees are looking for more assurances that they can learn and move into better positions in their jobs, said Thomas Casey, a partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

In fact, the study, which surveys nearly 3,000 financial workers each quarter, found that most management-level employees value some sort of education above even pay or benefits. And nearly three-quarters said they have very little idea what sort of promotions they may get years from now.

Researchers expected money would be the top priority for managers, Casey said. But he said the results reflect the fact that "money is becoming a level playing field for most managers."

Learning Opportunities a Benefit

To build the loyalty of management, Casey said fund companies should "package learning opportunities with a good career plan. We would conclude that the career development models and the quality of the supervision has left a little to be desired."

The problem, Casey said, is that good staff is increasingly difficult to find and companies need to pay attention to what quality workers want from their jobs. He predicts firms will begin launching new education programs and develop more long-term perspectives for their workers' careers.

And, with many fund companies slashing jobs during the market's downturn, Casey said some firms are doing all they can to hold onto staff despite shrinking budgets because they know those quality staff members will be difficult to re-hire when the market recovers.

To do that, some firms are taking a three-phase scenario approach to the markets' downturn: They are retaining employees now. And when they have to fire staff, they are planning to keep in contact with them so that those employees might return to the firm during more flush times. Lastly, if employees are laid off, firms are doing their best to treat them well so that those employees don't bad-mouth them years later.

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