As individuals, we are one of probably the most experienced (some might say ‘old’) search consultants in the country who specialise in the independent social, healthcare and education sectors. We’ve certainly been doing it longer than most.
As a team, we provide something particularly unique to our clients – expertise and experience combined with exceptional understanding of the industry from the ground up garnered over a period of several decades.
This has proven to be a winning formula and one that has seen Carter Schwartz grow year on year. So when Global Recruiter, the leading magazine for the international recruitment industry, approached us to talk about our journey over the last few years in business, we seized the opportunity.
You can read the original feature on Carter Schwartz by downloading the magazine via the Global Recruitment website – click here. But if you’re not a fan of online magazines, you can read the full article below.
Thanks for reading.
UP CLOSE – How sector knowledge plays a vital role in Carter Schwartz’s success.
Recruitment by its very nature is a transient business. On the traditional agency side of the industry job-hopping every three or four years is commonplace and perhaps even encouraged for career advancement. Whilst on the consultancy side, however, longevity is key to maintaining long-term relationships – especially when it comes to middle to senior management recruitment.
Even here you would be hard pressed to find any consultant who has remained with the same recruiter longer than five or six years let alone 18 years. But that’s precisely what Adam Carter did. Rising to the ranks of director early on in his career, Adam Carter took the decision to go it alone and set up his own consultancy, Carter Schwartz in 2015.
Today, with offices in London, Bristol and Leeds Carter Schwartz has quickly grown to become one of the leading providers of management and leadership talent solutions for the independent healthcare, social and education sectors in the UK.
Carter Schwartz was established with a single purpose in mind: To fuel the growth ambitions of our clients by bringing talented people to their organisations. As a by-product of this, we help professionals to fulfil their career ambitions.
But to achieve this meant doing things differently to what was already being done.
“It seemed clear to me that there was an opportunity to bring people with extensive sector experience into the recruitment world and leverage their experience,” says Adam Carter, managing director. “By underpinning this experience from within the industry along with my own of supplying the talent for the industry we can collectively offer a solution that differed from anything that was already serving this space.”
“At the time I had 18 years of developing a healthcare proposition for a generic recruitment house, and saw the opportunity to create something in my own image and focusing purely on the core care markets,” he says. “Inevitably, to build something of critical mass would mean that I had to broaden our market focus, from just being £70k and above to focus on capturing the £30k to £70k space, but still utilising the mechanics of Executive Search.”
“The majority of our competitors in the £30k – £70k space are taking the selection/agency approach, where we take our headhunting experience and apply the processes to this market.
“We wanted to build and grow a team and the only way to do that is by focusing on the central area of the pyramid that offers greater opportunity where there is a greater volume. Our product offering focuses on all levels of leadership, from a site to a company,” says Carter.
Competition within the independent social, healthcare and education sectors is intense and when Carter Schwartz opened its doors two years ago it did so at a time when the green shoots of recovery from the recession were finally beginning to bloom, with Adam able to capitalise on the strength of his own personal brand to ensure the company got off to a strong start.
Having established a name for himself as a foremost recruiter within the healthcare marketplace, Adam was keen to use this as a vehicle with which to create a brand around him to enable him to build a team of talented people, and gaining recognition for that brand instead of the individual.
“The space in which we operate is a competitive one, yet nine times out of 10 we gain the edge over those big brand recruiters we are pitted against,” says Adam. “We position our pitch depending on who we’re going to be up against. If we’re up against major search brands, then we pitch on our sector exposure. We win more than our fair share against these brands.
“Quite simply, this is because the recruitment industry becomes more ‘niched’, people are buying knowledge and experience of the market rather than a glossy brand.”
This is what gives Carter Schwartz that all-important edge over their competition.
Garnering a wealth of sector knowledge over a period of 20 years means that the team can offer unrivalled insight into the machinations of the areas they serve – which is everything from fertility to funerals and everything in between. It also gives them a better understanding than most providers of how their clients operate. As Adam puts it: “We simply get it.”
Indeed, Adam is often called upon to deliver strategic white boarding services for clients throughout the UK to advise them on what they need to do from a talent management perspective to support their growth plans.
It is this knowledge that Carter Schwartz is able to build into the recruitment solution they provide – something that no other provider is able to match.
Bringing industry into recruitment
Carter Schwartz set out to be different and critical to achieving this is the quality of their team. Adam explains that all of their practice heads have all previously held senior management positions within the sector itself, ranging from operations and managing director to chief executive and chief operating office roles before joining Carter Schwartz: “They know what good looks like…they’ve hired it, they’ve managed it and they’ve led it,” he says.
It is this first-hand pedigree that has seen the company become the recruiting partner of choice for a multitude of major private social and healthcare providers, emerging corporates, not-for-profits and the healthcare investment community exclusively within the independent and third sector. They use Carter Schwartz because they’re dealing with consultants who have done the very same job they are looking to fill.
There is, and always has been, a dearth of talent available – precipitated by the tight regulations existing within the sector, Adam explains.
The focus has historically has been on filling clinician roles, with a view to them eventually occupying the space left by exiting leaders higher.
However, this has created a vacuum whereby there is a lack of commercially minded managers assuming leadership positions. In fact, research commissioned by Carter Schwartz and conducted by CIL found that 81 per cent of all chief financial officer roles are external appointments.
“The real challenge is convincing clients to consider candidates from outside the sector,” says Adam.
“What we tend to see is that the majority of roles up to middle management are filled by people from within the industry, whilst the higher up the organisation you go the more likely you will find people from outside: It’s a paradox especially when almost half [45 per cent] of all healthcare leaders state a lack of quality middle management as being a major concern.”
Ambition for 2016 and beyond
Adam is clear in what he wants for Carter Schwartz in the year ahead. With two years of steady growth behind them the time is ripe for the business move into the next phase.
In practice, describes Adam, this means organising the sectors in which they operate into individual specialisms, so that each niche will be managed by its own senior associate supported by two consultants and a dedicated researcher.
“This year we are looking to bring on an additional researcher and administrative support in addition to a finance director recruiter, with a view to increasing our current staffing levels to 10 by the end of the year,” says Adam.
The sector is hotting up. “There is a lot of movement and a number of transactions in the market taking place, as evidenced by many of the finance director roles we’ve recently been managing,” he adds.
“There are many positives for the year ahead, with continued growth expected in niche areas such as the provision of dementia care in smaller care homes that are less reliant on local authority funding, complex care at home and the consolidation of dental and veterinary markets too.”