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Halliday Marx Visions

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Meet John Marx, Co-Founder Halliday Marx. Find out what inspired him to create one of London’s leading Finance Recruitment consultancies.

What attracted you to a career in recruitment?

I think only a lucky few know exactly what they want to do at 18 or at 21 – and I wasn’t one of them! I’ve always loved travel and strongly believe it’s the best way to focus the mind and gain a fresh perspective on things, so after graduating in 1996, I decided to take a gap year. I explored the USA, Australia, South Africa, India and also New Zealand, where I talked my way into being a practice bowler for the England Cricket Team.

The idea of a career in recruitment happened during a scuba diving trip to Cairns; I bumped into a group of ten recruiters from a well-known London based firm whilst having a drink in The Woolshed. They told me they were impressed by my confidence, unusual at such a young age, and within thirty minutes suggested I contact them about opportunities within their organisation when I returned to London.

How were the early years?

Recruitment was a good move. Back in London, I interviewed with some recognised brands before taking up an opportunity with Robert Half, this was the first time they had taken on a graduate in three years. Before long, I was top performer in Europe for the interim/temporary brand, successfully managing a high-performing team and nurturing a very loyal client base.

In the very early days (1997-1999), no internet meant everything was done over the telephone. The inefficiency of queuing at a fax machine, faxing CVs to clients was painful and inevitably, the equipment regularly broke down. As a result, virtually all recruitment took place on the phone. Frequently, I would get phone calls from panicking clients on Friday afternoons desperately needing an accountant to start on the Monday morning. These roles would fill within twenty minutes by talking my clients through the best three candidates and who was most suited to their culture. The relationship was built on mutual trust, one bad decision and you were toast – so you had to get it right every time. Clients relied on my judgement 100% – no CV/no interview – pure trust. The golden days……

In 2003, an opportunity to move out to the Sydney office came up, and I jumped at the chance – especially with the Rugby World Cup around the corner!

And the inspiration for Halliday Marx?

I met Andy Halliday in 2005. I had moved back to London, taking up a Managerial position in the Commerce Division of Morgan McKinley (formerly known as Nigel Lynn). We were jointly responsible for managing their interim team as well as consulting ourselves. Annoyingly, I became the No. 2 biller…….Andy would always pip me to the post! Together we turned that team into world beaters within 2 years.

In 2010, the financial market wasn’t great, it was post Lehman Brothers and we were coming out of a global financial crisis. However, candidates were plentiful and our clients were extremely loyal to us as individuals. It was time to break away and set-up our own business.

We were very aware that some recruiters have a salesy, pushy style – promising the world and delivering very little. Clients need a simple, honest and intelligent approach to recruitment. So, we joined forces and decided to go it alone with a brand style that is still with us today – and always will be.

What makes Halliday Marx different?

Transparency. We cut through the smoke and mirrors, offering a highly intelligent, yet simple and agile service.

In the recruitment space, candidates regularly complain about being contacted for roles completely unsuitable for them. In addition, clients are frustrated at the large volume of unsuitable CVs received, both through irrelevant marketing of candidates and through CVs completely missing the brief. This is not the Halliday Marx approach. Our consultants are bright and informed and we firmly believe in sending fewer CVs because all hit the spot. Why should a client pay for a service and then spend hours filtering out inappropriate CVs themselves?

Our entire approach is centred around saving the client time and effort. Our consultants will hand pick your entire finance team – from CFO down to purchase ledger. Clients receive a handful of carefully selected CVs, and will only ever speak with 2 consultants; one for interim and one for permanent.

We are about building longstanding relationships, and we deliver on our promises.

Tell me about your typical day at work

It’s hectic! We start every day with a team catch-up. We share what jobs we are working on, which companies we are talking with, ask questions, share ideas and offer support where needed. We care about our people as much as our performance, so it’s vital everyone is supported in a way that allows them to give their best.

The remainder of the morning is usually spent speaking with clients and candidates, including making sure candidates are fully briefed about roles, upcoming interviews and start dates etc. Our sector base is broad, we look after finance teams in media, travel, property, marketing and retail………and it doesn’t stop at that. Turnovers range from £1 million to £1 billion plus, with finance teams of all shapes and sizes.

We know a great deal about our market, including trends, salaries and skills which we always share with our client and candidate base to ensure the correct expectations are set.

The afternoons often involve training/mentoring sessions with the team. Halliday Marx is different in that both Andy and I still recruit and are constantly coaching our team. We never want to lose that interaction with the clients and people we support.

What lies ahead for recruiting in 2021?

We’ve definitely seen a permanent led recovery over the last half year. I think companies have been reluctant to on-board interims they may never meet face to face. However, as we ease out of the current lockdown, we are expecting the interim market to significantly pick-up. Finance is a critical role – the work needs to be done and there will always be positions for excellent candidates.

In terms of flexible working, I think clients are still considering their stance on whether or not arrangements can be more permanent. It is far too early to say how the picture will look long-term, but they are certainly more open to some degree of WFH flexibility. This is great from a talent perspective, since it places a far wider candidate audience in front of us.

What have you learned about yourself during the pandemic?

The importance of being constantly in touch with your team. Technology is incredible but in an environment where you are not always together in the office, you have to make a consistent effort to communicate with everyone regularly. It’s so important for maintaining morale. The office is where Halliday Marx will always be, recruitment is more efficient when we can collaborate directly.

I have really missed meeting up regularly with our clients, be it meeting in their office or our office, or in the pub after work, or a splendid lunch in central London. We treat a lot of our clients as friends, the bond is that strong.

I’ve also missed my regular trips with my two young boys to White Hart Lane, and my slightly more raucous affairs at Lord’s Cricket Ground with friends and clients to watch the mighty England……bring on the summer….. oh and don’t forget Twickenham… .the list goes on.

What’s next for Halliday Marx?

We are already beginning our transition back to the office. We desperately miss our team vibe, we work well together and have a lot of fun. Our office is set-up for team work and sharing ideas, human interaction is important for building energy and inspiration, and it speeds up the recruitment process which is crucial. Agility is an essential element of recruitment, and a face-to-face environment better supports that.

And regardless of my extensive travels, I rate London as the greatest city in the world. It’s an honour to step-off the train and walk to my desk taking in the rich history, culture and architecture……..not to mention the fantastic array of lunches available five minutes from our office!

We can’t wait to physically get back out there and shout about our brand.…… the future looks good.

If you’re looking for career opportunities in the finance professional space, or need great talent to support your business, contact our specialist team on 020 7096 8200 or email us at [email protected]. Let’s start the conversation.

For the latest financial opportunities, company updates, recruitment information and career advice, follow us on LinkedIn and twitter@HallidayMarx

Our philosophy is simple: Do things simply, do them well.