What our Graduate Programme taught us about Political Risk

Pozières Consulting launched its’ ‘Candidate Exposure Programme’ in 2016 to replace its graduate programme of previous years. The original graduate programme was the result of a recruitment drive in 2015 that received a huge number of applications and many very qualified analysts; the problem was that most of the applicants could not demonstrate the ability to or experience in presenting their analysis in the context of business, of real world business and investment decision making. A discussion with our CEO raised the question of “how does a candidate demonstrate that?” A good question! Most of the qualified analysts had done important research with think tanks, elite universities, governments, intelligence agencies and the military but obviously none of that research was conducted with an investor, financial advisor or business leader in mind, similarly with recent graduates.

So, with that insight we have decided to trial a graduate article programme which would allow selected candidates to submit articles for publication by Pozières Consulting to our clients and potentially for inclusion in our situation or monthly briefs. The idea was to allow graduates to demonstrate that they could produce work that was relevant in a business context while also giving them exposure to our clients, potential employers and of course our own recruitment team. Feedback from the programme led us to expand it to include any interested candidate rather than limiting it solely to graduates. We also included details of the programme to anyone who applied unsuccessfully for a role with us.

Having run the candidate programme for almost one year now we have learnt two important lessons.

From a HR perspective, we learnt that experienced analysts who do not have any business or financial experience HATE being told that they could benefit from adding to their portfolio of published work. We realised that most candidates who apply for jobs with us do not realise that Political Risk is different from other areas of geo-political research and analysis and therefore resent the idea that they are somehow under qualified. And this point is at the heart of the second lesson we learnt and that was the importance of not getting caught in the trap of focusing on the ‘political’ more than the ‘risk’. Inherently, political risk is about how political outcomes could or will influence or disrupt markets and businesses. If analysts do not understand key business and financial concepts or fail to consider the financial element, then the political analysis is useless to our clients. As an industry it seems that we have failed to make this distinction clear enough.

So our advice then to anyone looking to enter the political risk industry, make sure you understand the business cycle, the credit cycle, currency markets and generally the relationships between markets and politics that are important to CEO’s, investors and capital allocators. And be prepared to be asked how your analysis could be used to inform real world business decisions by someone reading it because that’s what political risk is, it is the confluence between business and politics.