At a UK Finance webinar, two experts explained the human resources issues financial firms should be considering, and how these relate to the Senior Managers Regime.

Andrew Heath, CEO of employee engagement software provider WeThrive and Sandy Locke, Human Resources Director of wealth solutions provider Lombard International, were the special guests at a webinar organised by trade association UK Finance, which examined organisational culture and how it relates to the Senior Managers and Certification Regime.

Initially, it was highlighted that firms might currently be facing cultural challenges such as:

  • Attracting suitably qualified new staff
  • Handling remote working arrangements – one in four UK financial services employees want to work entirely from home, according to survey results from FS Tech; and when asked what was the number one demand they would give their employer, they mentioned flexible working
  • Addressing the impact the pandemic might have had on staff wellbeing – one in five people in the UK in 2020 say they experienced depression
  • The so-called ‘great resignation’, where issues related to Covid-19 lead people to decide it’s time to leave their jobs – here there could be knock-on effects relating to the wellbeing of the staff who are ‘left behind’ after numerous colleagues leave. A Gallup survey indicated 70% of employees believed that the availability or otherwise of career development opportunities was a key factor in deciding whether to stay in their current role

Moving directly to the topic of SM&CR, Mr Heath said that the fundamental issue was that if an employee was unhappy, or didn’t trust their management, they might be more likely to engage in mis-selling or other behaviour harmful to customers.

Ms Locke said it was vital for firms to have a ‘speak up’ culture, where staff were comfortable in raising their concerns.

Mr Heath said that, regardless of whether an employee works from home or from an office, their basic needs regarding what they want from their work experience remains unchanged. Examples include security, respect, privacy, achievement and meaning.

Ideally, an employee would be in the ‘psychologically safe zone’, where they felt stretched at work, but not unduly bored, pressured or stressed.

Ms Locke commented that “the one constant is change”. She added that the major current HR issues included:

  • Identifying critical skills and competencies required within the firm
  • Managing change
  • Addressing diversity, equality and inclusion issues
  • Identifying current and future leaders

Mr Heath said that, under SM&CR, the Financial Conduct Authority expected managers to demonstrate these leadership capabilities:

  • They must promote an appropriate culture
  • If they are senior managers, they should set the right ‘tone from the top’ example
  • They should be role models for all staff
  • They should strike an appropriate balance between managing people and allowing them to do their jobs
  • They should ensure they have the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to carry out their role

Examples of ways firms could assess corporate culture include:

  • Collecting feedback on a regular basis, not just as a one-off
  • Identifying individuals and business functions who might be struggling and need assistance
  • Ensuring issues are addressed in one-to-one and team meetings
  • Having appropriate systems in place to improve wellbeing of employees who experience challenges

Some of the SM&CR challenges facing firms include:

  • Identifying who is a Senior Manager and who falls under the Certification element of the regime
  • How assessments of competence and capability should be carried out
  • Understanding the responsibilities the Regime places on managers
  • Understanding what the Conduct Rules mean in practice for staff

Here at Scott Robert, our team of experts can assist with any issue related to SM&CR. Speak to one of our experts today to find out more by calling 0161 914 5727.