The ‘Talent-Hub’ Cities

Dallas has suddenly become the second-biggest US financial hub, part of a new and still-evolving worker geography in the post-pandemic era.

If you’re a finance leader looking for talent, New York has long been the logical place to start. But now it’s facing challenges from Mesquite, Farmers Branch, and various other suburbs surrounding Dallas, Texas.

Welcome to a new industrial map that firms are drawing all over the US—and beyond. In the wake of the pandemic and the rise of remote work, industry after industry has found itself desperately redistributing resources and operations in search of workers and customers newly resettled in greener pastures. Many of these so-called talent hubs are now emerging after frantic relocation efforts.

In the case of the financial-services industry, for example, three of Wall Street’s largest banks have opened regional hubs in the Dallas metropolitan area, which now boasts the second-highest number of financial-service workers in the nation, ahead of Chicago and Los Angeles. Companies have established these new outposts for a variety of reasons—including tax breaks and cheaper real estate—but the hunt for talent has been the biggest factor, says Deepali Vyas, global head of the FinTech, Payments, and Crypto practice at Korn Ferry.

“Dallas has become a destination for finance talent,” she says.

To be sure, companies have shifted their operations in the past, but these moves have typically been aimed at reducing taxes and cost-of-living expenses. The difference now is that the geographic distribution is being driven not from the top down, but instead from the bottom up, says Chad Astmann, co-head of the Global Investment Management practice at Korn Ferry. He cites the migration of talent to Nashville and Miami during the pandemic—not cheaper taxes and lower costs—as the primary drivers of those cities’ growth as new major tech hubs, for instance.

Astmann says that the increase in sources of capital since the pandemic is another factor shifting operations away from traditional financial centers like New York and San Francisco. Miami now ranks as a top-ten US city for venture-capital and tech-job growth, having increased annual investments from an average of a few hundred million dollars before the pandemic to a few billion dollars today. “Great investment ideas don’t need the physical trappings of power-lunch restaurants, fancy private clubs, and expensive boardrooms,” says Astmann.

The shifts dramatically affect the current job-hunting game, where the market has grown much tighter but where unexpected opportunities may still occur. For her part, Korn Ferry senior client partner Maria Amato says companies with strong brands will be less pressed to chase talent, but those with weaker reputations or high talent needs will need to intensify their search efforts in these new talent hubs. “You want to build locations where employees want to come, or where they already are,” Amato says.

As they decide where to open their next satellite office, leaders are considering other trends as well, including collaboration opportunities (to build talent pipelines) with colleges and other local institutions; well-developed highways or public transportation; and major airport access. Vyas says those factors are crucial not only for efficient logistics and connectivity to other business hubs, but also for attracting talent. Ease of travel from Dallas to both coasts, whether for business or leisure, is part of what lured talent there during the pandemic. “It’s almost as if it’s the new New York for travel,” says Vyas. 


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