Heidrick & Struggles' Ms. Neri said most investment management firms "are still in the diagnostic phase" in terms of what changes to make to attract millennials. "They know the world is changing around them, but it's more a matter now of seeing what 'best in class' looks like. There's much exploring and assessing going on."
At Nuveen, Ms. Cook said, millennial hiring is seen as part of the firm's overall push to improve its workforce diversity "from a gender and ethnicity standpoint. We're setting a goal of being as good or better (than the industry) in attaining diversity, and that's diversity across the organization, including bringing on more young people."
Pension funds have an additional problem in attracting millennial workers, Ms. Neri said. "The consideration is, can they stay sustainable?" she said. "They're facing similar pressures as managers, but more from different vantage points. Everyone's trying to right-size their structures ... U.S. public plans and some smaller Canadian plans are looking more at total rewards, the concept of why are you an attractive workplace and what can you do to enhance that."
Mr. Robinson said some employers he's advised on the issue have altered their office culture and performance expectations to attract millennials. Those include Polen Capital Management LLC, Boca Raton, Fla., a $20 billion equity manager that has adopted a results-only work environment as a guideline for its management structure, and the $151.4 billion Teacher Retirement System of Texas, Austin, which Mr. Robinson said "has a great culture" that encourages millennial hiring in its internal investment management team.
At Polen, Brian Goldberg, chief compliance officer, said the results-only program that was started in 2016 "looks at managing work rather than managing people. Millennials want to know what's expected in clear terms and want to achieve at the highest level without any heavy-handed monitoring of attendance or face time. We create measurable results from team workers without asking if they were leaving work early or late. It's more about how they help our clients."
Mr. Goldberg said the program also is appreciated by managers and longer-term employees. "They, too, have responsibilities out of the office and appreciate that this opens doors for them to maybe see their children's high school play or Little League games."
Polen also gives examples to its employees of how what they do matters to people, said Graham Ward, director of finance. In one example, firefighters who are participants in the $125 million Miramar (Fla.) Firefighters' Pension Fund came to Polen's offices and met with investment personnel and other staff members to explain the impact the money manager's work has on their lives. Polen managed $21 million in U.S. large-cap equity for the pension fund as of Sept. 30, according to a report by Dahab Associates Inc., the plan's investment consultant.
At the end of 2017, 37% of Polen's 56 employees were millennials. This year, of the 20 new employees who will start in mid- to late summer, 15 are millennials, Mr. Ward said.