The business was created by a small team of industry experts with experience in banking and specialist recruitment in 2002. It is now led by Graeme and his co-director of 25 years, Miles Clarke.
They have witnessed substantial change in the industry over the past two decades, both in the company’s core markets of asset, motor and invoice finance and within the business itself.
The company began life primarily sourcing sales staff for bank-owned finance companies, but now it has transformed into recruiting executives for some of the most senior roles in the finance industry, with many of them having partnered with CBCRS throughout their careers.
The company focuses on the asset finance, motor finance and invoice finance sectors, sourcing roles ranging from sales and marketing through to credit, risk, operations and executive leadership.
For Chisholm, the key has been to focus on consistency by building close working relationships with executives and the companies that want to recruit them.
Chisholm, who worked at companies including Midland Bank and Hewitt Management Selection before starting CBCRS, says: “Asset finance, invoice finance and motor finance are our core and passion. Our business principles are vital. Our greatest asset is our reputation and the trust that our customers, business partners and colleagues have in us.
“Integrity, honesty, expertise and delivery underpin all that we do and the people we worked with 25 years ago to put them in their first sales role are now in many cases leading asset finance businesses.
“We have seen them grow and develop and our business has also grown as we have continued working with them.
“As our network has grown over the years, it has helped the business expand and we have developed excellent and very close working relationships throughout the industry.”
Miles Clarke argues that as the internet, email and social media has changed the nature of business communication, it remains critical to focus on traditional personal relationships when it comes to recruiting talent.
He says: “When we first started, everyone would be in a suit and tie, but now it is just as likely to be jeans or chinos and an iPad in the fintech industry.
“But one thing has not changed and that is the face-to-face element of the role. You still need to talk to people. Social media is one thing, but we still really value the face-to-face element of this business.
“Technology has helped us enormously in accessing information and researching prospective candidates, but relationships have to be built on a personal level and that focus has helped us to build the customer and client base that we have.”
The same consistency applies to the 12-strong team behind CBCRS’s national and international services. Staff have been with the company for at least 15 years, developing a strong, historic bond of trust with clients.
Clarke says: “One of the pillars of our success has been the consistency of our employee base. The leadership team remain on the ‘coal face’ to maintain contact with the market as well.”
This focus also means that the company has developed rich insights that can be shared with employers to help them secure the right candidates and understand changing market conditions.
The industry has changed radically over the past two decades, particularly with the impact of the severe global recession that began in 2008.
Clarke adds: “In the 1990s, there were a smaller number of motor finance and asset finance companies with sizeable national branch networks and staff. The whole industry was networked across the UK.
“People did not leave their roles, banking was a job for life, but from early 2000, there was a massive market shift when the commercial banks started recruiting externally.
“That change was only surpassed by the financial crash when recruiting effectively stopped in some areas.”
CBCRS adapted within its core markets to continue to grow, especially when demand for employees returned over the past decade.
But the impact of the recession is still being felt as companies can struggle to find enough high-calibre candidates for roles.
Chisholm says: “I still think it is the most difficult thing to get someone to change their job. A personal relationship means we learn more and that helps the client find the right people that they want and that will support their business.
“There has been a lack of new recruits joining the industry and it means there is an aging population in asset finance and invoice finance. This has been developing over a long period of time.
“There is ongoing work to attract new talent to the industry, but in the current market there is a chronic shortage of skilled people.
“In future, the available pool of talent will be a real challenge. It is not a lack of talent, just a shortage of people. Organisations will have to recruit and train, because there just aren’t enough skilled people out there.”
As a result, there is an increasing flow of candidates from outside the industry, except for sales where the immediate performance requirements tend to require direct experience in the industry.
Among its industry clients, CBCRS has been working with Close Brothers on its industry sales training academy, a ‘centre of excellence’ that recruits and develops executives to support the business in future generations.
Competition for strong candidates across the finance industry is becoming more intense with the rise of challenger banks and new asset and motor finance providers.
For Chisholm, this is an exciting time for growth as the company looks at what the next 25 years might hold.
He says: “I think there is more opportunity across more oganisations now with new players in invoice finance, asset finance and motor finance. We see a really buoyant market.
“From a recruitment company point of view, we are blessed. We know the people through direct relationships, we have a great team and we can do a great job because this is a people-based business.”