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Recruiter Spotlight: Yomi Akiwumi, Forge Partners

In this Recruiter Spotlight, Aditi Jenkins interviews Yomi Akiwumi, Founder and Managing Director of Forge Partners, a highly specialised executive search firm working with the world’s leading investment brands.


Check out the interview to learn about his background, the impact of Covid-19 on his business, how FileFinder Executive Search Software contributed to his firm’s success, and his impressions of working with the Ikiru People team.


Watch the video, or read highlights below:




Welcome to Recruiter Spotlight. My name is Aditi Jenkins, with Ikiru People. Today, I have Mr Yomi Akiwumi with Forge Partners on the call – welcome, Yomi. Please tell me a little bit about your background and experience in working with Executive Search.


I’ve been in Executive Search for 13 years. Prior to that, I was a lawyer at a firm called Norton Rose and a strategy consultant at Accenture. I came to Executive Search from two very distinctly separate careers, which have been incredibly useful in the way I approach Executive Search with a legal background and a strategy consulting background. I worked with several different companies for the last 11 years, and two years ago. I set up Forge Partners.


What made you decide to start your own firm?


I was really interested in a business model that was service orientated, that was incredibly important to me. I just knew I wanted to start a business one day and I think it’s probably a bit easier to start a Search firm than a law practice. It was a real, specific desire to start an enterprise. I looked at Search and just thought it just ticks a lot of boxes in relation to service, growth, expertise, there’s a lot going for it.


What type of service do you provide now in the legal arena?


It’s not actually a legal search firm. When I left the law, I went into financial services focus strategy consultant at Accenture. I was advising banks on corporate strategy and specific projects. I actually cover financial services search and I specialize primarily in credit-focused alternative investments. I’ve been really focused on the skillsets that came out of the global financial crisis. I really specialized in non-performing loans for a period of time, building a number of loans businesses, some really well-known funds. And they were buying distressed assets backed by real estate, backed by corporate loans, etc. So, that’s an area Forge Partners is really highly specialized in. We also look at distressed corporate credit and opportunistic credit and private debt as well. So, we’re really quite focused. And by being focused and specialized, we just feel we’re able to provide a far better service to our clients.



That makes sense. Now, I’m going to bring up the horrible subject of 2020. How has Covid-19 impacted your business? 


We’re specialized as a result of the last financial crisis. So, we’re in a situation where we do specialize in cycles that do create financial pressure, and our clients are specialized in helping clear those systems. From that perspective, we’re well placed to assist in times of stress. So, from a workflow perspective, we placed individuals that were focused on distressed credit or market dislocations, for instance. So our business actually hasn’t been hugely affected. If anything, it’s grown, but what has occurred that has been really interesting is the way that people have hired.


For instance, we placed a senior credit analyst for distressed hedge funds. In that situation, the person was interviewed entirely virtually across the process. It took about three to four weeks, and that process would normally take essentially three to four months with specific sit-down conversations, perhaps a flight to New York, those kinds of things. Just the way the process has changed has certainly impacted our business. From our clients’ perspective, it’s tricky. They’ve not really met until they start. And in that situation, things like referencing became incredibly important. Layers of referencing for that particular individual were like nothing I’ve seen before. And it was crucial. So, there are ways around it.


What made you choose FileFinder for your business?


When I started in Search with a firm no longer with us called Kinsey Allen, FileFinder was what we used. So, I’ve been using FileFinder since 2007, and undoubtedly it’s something that I’m used to, which is obviously very useful. I’ve really got to understand its functionality well over a decade of use now, so from that perspective, for me, if it ain’t broke, you don’t need to fix it. And FileFinder has been phenomenal as a tool throughout my career to date.


Would you say that it’s been a positive, contributing factor to your success, are you happy with it?


Absolutely, I would say so, and I like the fact that it just keeps improving and that it has kept up with the times. In 10 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes and, a lot of updates. The latest update I’m working on is super fast. We couldn’t live without the ability to run a great process, the ability to capture all the intelligence we gather through constant candidate meetings is essential, as is the ability to capture the compensation data that we provide. With FileFinder, everything is in one place and we’ve created this incredible pool of knowledge that’s been essential to our business.



What has your experience been working with the various teams at Ikiru People, like projects, support, training… How has it been?


It’s been great throughout, and incredibly responsive. The helpdesk is fantastically well organized, with 24/5 coverage, they’ve always been super quick. It’s been incredibly smooth. As someone testing out the faster version, it’s been very reassuring to know the business hasn’t been interrupted, although I’m kind of part of a development program. Across the board, client success, helpdesk, and regular check-ins with various individuals like yourself, has been great.


You guys have been really attentive and kept my business on the forefront and running very smoothly for me. So yes, really good setup and your training has been fantastic. Over the years, I’ve had quite a few training sessions and it’s all been incredibly clear really, it’s got us up and running in various ways straightaway. With new members of staff coming on, the fact that we have the ability to onboard them as quickly as we can with FileFinder is going to be incredibly important. It’s been a very good experience.


Thank you for that feedback. Now you know we’re going to wrap it up but it’s a big question I’m going to ask: what do you see the recruiting industry going after the pandemic?


From our perspective, the emphasis on expertise and value add to our niche client base is absolutely essential; we’ve got to keep every day finding reasons why we are a superior service to other options, and that’s various things: thirteen years of accumulated knowledge, market maps of those populations, tracking candidates constantly, meeting them constantly, the intelligence and the expertise we provide. So I just think that specialization, value add and expertise are trends that we’ll see more and more. I think we’ll see a lot more fragmentation. But on the flip side of that, you’ll also bigger businesses becoming bigger and cementing that place in the market. More capital has been concentrated in these, in these bigger businesses all the time.


And then I think that Covid-19 is short term, it will sort itself out but we’ll keep some of the practices we’ve seen. Perhaps the concept to fly someone to New York five times for an interview process is probably something that can be moved to Zoom, right? So we’ll keep elements of the efficiencies that have been created as the result of Covid-19.


But otherwise, I think there’s always going to be a place for great Search firms that really know what they’re talking about, that understand their clients, that understand the niche populations that they clients require, and know that this is ultimately a people business, and there will always be a place for that kind of skillset and that kind of ability to smooth the wheels in that particular kind of transaction.





FileFinder Executive Search Software is a powerful, and yet easy-to-use, combination of database, project management, web research and CRM tools, designed specifically for executive search firms and in-house strategic recruitment teams. Available as a cost-effective Cloud, browser-based application or via a variety of alternative deployment models, hundreds of search firms and corporate clients rely on FileFinder technology to better manage their executive search process.


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    Recruiter Spotlight: Yomi Akiwumi, Forge Partners