An impressive seven firms made the grade in Professional Adviser's inaugural 'Best Financial Advisers To Work For' survey. We asked a number of employees why they thought their firms gained this special recognition
Given the highly competitive nature of today's financial advice sector, the winners in business are likely to be the those firms whose staff will go the extra mile - not only for their employers, but for the customer too. The recruitment and - just as importantly - the retention of the best staff through great employee engagement is now recognised as a real game-changer in business.
Recognising this, Professional Adviser, in partnership with workplace engagement specialist Best Companies Group, launched a survey last year to identify the UK's Best Adviser Firms to Work for.
And, at the end of a highly demanding process, we are delighted to be able to celebrate seven outstanding organisations that have distinguished themselves as great adviser firms to work for.
They are Cooper Parry Wealth, Edward Bond Wealth Management, HJP Independent Financial Advisers, Informed Financial Planning, One 77 Mortgages, Sandringham Financial Partners and Wills & Trusts.
Professional Adviser editor Julian Marr (pictured above - just - with representatives from the seven firms) said: " It was no easy task to make this list, so all those who were honoured at the Professional Adviser Awards should be extremely proud of themselves, their colleagues and their organisations."
He added: "To determine our winners, we needed to find out how connected employees are to their employers. We needed to find out if the employees would make an extra effort to ensure their company succeeds - for example, do they like going to work most days? Would they recommend the organisation as a place of employment to a friend.
"Most engagement research has found a little over a third of all employees can say 'Yes' to those types of questions. I am happy to report these seven organisations far exceeded that number. Instead of 35%, an incredible 93% of their staff were revealed to be 'engaged' employees."
In a bid to gauge what sets these firms apart from the crowd and what makes them so special in the eyes of their staff, Professional Adviser tracked down a number of representatives from among the winners and asked them.
Perks of the job
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a variety of perks do feature prominently among the winners. Each firm offers a wide array of benefits, with the likes of flexible working, free eye tests, medical insurance and cycle to work schemes cropping up on multiple occasions.
The winning firms also tended, however, to go the extra mile. One 77 Mortgages managing director Alastair McKee, who has been at the company since its inception six years ago, says the team enjoys quarterly socials, weekly quizzes at the local pub and aptly named "Fat Fridays" in which pizza is delivered to the office.
For their part, the team at Edward Bond Wealth Management have a corporate social event every six weeks that could be anything from dinner and drinks to bowls in the summer.
Meanwhile the Wills & Trusts staff and their partners are taken on an annual trip abroad by the company. This year it is Venice and, in the past, the team has visited New York, Dubai and Las Vegas. Employees also become shareholders after five years at the firm, which practice manager Paula O'Reily says "shows the boss's commitment to us".
For going 'above and beyond the call of duty', staffs at Wills & Trusts are presented with their own version of Oscars - ‘Freds' - often with a treat thrown in on the side.
In a similar vein, staff at HJP Independent Financial Advisers also receive awards - though these are known as 'The D'err Awards' and are presented at the Christmas party by the finance director, who 'publicly humiliates' recipients for silly mishaps throughout the year.
Training is another aspect of working life from which employees at the seven firms really do appear to benefit. Although staff at Sandringham Financial Partners operate mostly out of a central office, for example, they are still able to choose to have training days at home.
One 77 Mortgages employees receive weekly training to "keep the knowledge base up to date", says McKee. Wills & Trusts take part in coaching on a variety of topics, HJP pays for any relevant courses staff may want to take and Informed Financial Planning has a variety of training programmes, including a graduate and apprenticeship scheme.
Edward Bond Wealth Management also has an apprenticeship scheme, which can now boast having taken a number of employees from apprentice to fully qualified adviser. Upon completing the scheme, the former apprentice discusses progression goals with their line manager, and a tailor-made training programme is designed.
'Sense of unity'
Across the board at the winning firms, staff turnover was consistently low, with each boasting well-seasoned employees. Each firm was able to name staff that had been in the business from the get-go - however varied that timeframe might be - and almost all reported a close working relationship with colleagues.
Informed Financial Planning practice manager Anjeanette Kemp has the last word on the matter: "The word ‘team' really does define us - we work together, we collaborate and there is a real sense of unity throughout the organisation."
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