Adam Sommerville Finance Recruiter

Financial Recruitment: An interview with Adam Sommerville

December 8, 2023 0 Comments

After 16 years working in financial services recruitment, Adam Sommerville partnered with Barnes Roffe to set up Barnes Roffe Recruitment. Now in its second year of trading, we catch up with Adam to find out more about his experience, sector knowledge and how Barnes Roffe recruitment are helping clients to find top financial talent for their businesses.

Why did you want to go into recruitment?
Adam Sommerville
The honest answer, I kind of fell into it. I went to University to do a business management degree which was very broad and left me unsure of what to do. After graduating and some intense saving, I decided to travel the world for six months and once back in the UK decided to move to London. One of the first interviews I attended was with a recruitment agency which worked mainly in banking and finance. I started the position on a temporary basis and absolutely loved it. I became a Director of the company within five years and didn’t move on until another seven years later where I joined another finance-focused recruitment agency to set up a new division. Sixteen years on and I still get that buzz and thrill out of recruitment, just as I did when I started.

How long have you been with Barnes Roffe Recruitment now?
Adam Sommerville
It will be two years in September. Barnes Roffe Recruitment started with discussions between me and Shen Yap, a Partner at Barnes Roffe. We saw a gap in the market for those owner managed clients who wanted a no-fuss, results-driven recruitment process, especially in this highly competitive market.

What does the average day look like to you?
Adam Sommerville
There is a team of six of us. Four of us work within the office and two others work remotely. Aside from drinking lots of coffee, once we get into the office we log onto our laptops and phones and its go, go, go! Talking to our clients, picking up candidates, reading CVs and writing job advertisements, just lots of conversations to be had in the day. Our client and candidate relationships go hand in hand, so we’re maintaining those connections in all corners to ensure the results we need.

Each day is constantly changing and adapting. You start off with an initial to do list for the day but after one client meeting, we’re changing candidate interviews, timings, we’re adding additional interviews, we’re screening for a new roleIt’s a very fluid role and, as cringey as it sounds, no two days are the same! The way I can describe it is like a rollercoaster, you have the top of the world moments where you get a fantastic placement in after weeks of hard work, and a moment later you drop down where a candidate decides they don’t want to take a role, so you have to adapt and move through the next motions. It’s very busy, but it’s great.

What is it about your role that you love the most?
Adam Sommerville
You know, you might have 1000 applications for a role which you’ve got to whittle down to the one. You kind of back your judgment and then see the longer you do it, the more you get it right. You’re helping build up a team, part of a company and I really enjoy it.

I could say that I get great satisfaction from helping other people, which is a part of recruitment, but ultimately, I enjoy doing well for a business. It’s about creating revenue, which as cut-throat as that sounds, that’s what I love the most. However, it’s also a great feeling to make someone really happy by ringing individuals and offering them a role and they’re so thrilled that they’re in tears on the phone.

What do you think makes Barnes Roffe Recruitment differ from other recruiters?
Adam Sommerville
One of the key things is that we’ve got an affinity to the partners of Barnes Roffe, in which those partners look after the nuts and bolts of their client’s business from an accounting perspective. Whether they’re coming from an audit or tax angle, the partner has that relationship with the client and so we’re able to utilise that. The partners truly understand their client’s business, their needs, their values, which they can pass onto us so we can start searching for the perfect individual. Of course, accountants cannot be involved with recruitment for their clients, and so we fill the gap by removing the accountants and acting as a separate entity. We provide recruitment services by fully understanding your company, not from online research but from the people who have worked alongside you for many years. If we were a completely independent recruiter, we wouldn’t necessarily have that inside knowledge to hone in on the recruit you’re after.

Our staff also really do have great knowledge of the market, knowing how Finance Directors, Finance Managers, etc work. It’s a candidate short market and difficult to find good people but we have a strong record of placing individuals where they need to be.

What do you look for when finding the right applicant?
Adam Sommerville
Experience comes first and foremost. Do you know what they have done? What they were before? Then you also need to look for longevity. Have they flipped around every 6 months? One of the biggest struggles in every industry at the moment is retention. When a CV lacks stability, the individual has moved every 6 months or so, they become more difficult to place and an unlikely choice. Long-term progression within a CV is always a green flag.

Getting down to the skeleton of it, we consider what the client is looking for versus a written CV. We see if the individual is a good fit for the company, in both experience, attitude and values, and if they have a positive trajectory to succeed within that role.

What do you think applicants need from you as a recruiter?
Adam Sommerville
First and foremost, honesty and integrity. It’s important that you stick to your word as a recruiter. If you tell a candidate you’re going to come back to them within 24 hours, you get back to them within that time.

We don’t wish to waste anybody’s time and we want everyone to have the most straight forward experience they can. If you know somebody isn’t going to be the right fit for a role, you’re honest and you tell them. We turn them down nicely, of course, and give feedback or guidance where we can. Our staff aren’t new in the world of recruiting, they’re experienced professionals who know how to work the market, clients and candidates. It’s a true recruiting process, where experienced consultants help individuals make their next step efficiently.

What is the secret to great retention?
Adam Sommerville
Having regular conversations with the employee to find out what their motivations are, what are their goals. Sit down every three months, every quarter, and ask: How do you think the last three months have gone? What could have gone better? How do you think your role could improve/progress? Having good communication and regular discussions openly from employer to employee means you’re less likely to have somebody turn around on you to resign. It keeps both parties happy. If the first time you hear of an employees unhappiness is at their resignation, something has gone wrong. Aside from that, from a recruitment perspective, you want to ensure the candidate is showing a strong progression trajectory within long-term positions in previous companies – this can indicate the candidate will likely stay within your company for the long-run.

Tell me about the clients you get to work with.
Adam Sommerville
It’s so varied. For example, it could be a technology client, an asset finance client, it could be construction or logistics. We work amongst a huge range of industries, with the roles being really varied as well. Our bread and butter are roles such as Financial Controllers, Finance Managers, Management Accountants, and so on. The majority of the roles that we work on are for salaries over £50,000. However, we can also source admin, secretarial, etc. We like to build the relationship with clients whereby no job is too small.

Tell me about a client who Barnes Roffe Recruitment have managed to successfully source for.
Adam Sommerville
We placed a Chief Finance Officer for a Barnes Roffe client. He was so pleased with our work he recommended us to another Managing Director who was searching for a new Finance Director. We had hundreds of applicants for this role. We had shortlisted 12 applicants to send to the MD, those of which either hand-picked or head-hunted by us, which was then cut down to 4 individuals. This placement was initially a three-stage process which was accelerated due to one of the individuals dropping out and the market moving so quickly. We were able to help with the interview process and from there a candidate was offered the role and happily accepted. This was in August of last year, and this individual is still FD for the company and is performing well.

More about Barnes Roffe Recruitment
Barnes Roffe Recruitment provides recruitment services for Barnes Roffes’ London offices and their 2,000+ clients based across the UK.

Their team has over 50 years’ combined recruitment experience where they have successfully filled a wide variety of Accounting & Finance vacancies as well as other assignments within the wider Banking and Financial Services sector.

Are you looking to recruit finance professionals within your company? Barnes Roffe Recruitment can find you qualified, capable and loyal candidates to push you into the next stage of your business. To find out more, head to their website: or contact Adam at