Asset management executives return to the four-day week

Senior executives at some of the UK’s biggest fund houses are eager to move to a four-day working week as financial services firms continue to tear up the rule book following the Covid pandemic.

A survey of 200 senior asset management executives by professional services firm Accenture found that 76% would support working fewer days a week, as evidence begins to emerge about improving mental health, morale and employee productivity.

“Four-day weeks could work for many organizations. There are different parts of the asset management operating model where it will work best,” said Chris Lowe, UK asset management lead at Accenture. Financial news.

“The challenge arises when there are support areas or operations that must be permanently active. There is a lot of positive evidence about the value of a four-day workweek…but asset management is a highly regulated industry, so there is a balance to ensure clients are protected and treated as they are today.”

Most asset managers have introduced flexible work policies as part of their post-Covid return-to-work plans.

Columbia Threadneedle, owned by US-based Ameriprise Financial, has asked some 1,100 employees to return a minimum of three days a week at its offices on Cannon Street and Exchange House, near Liverpool Street. Teams are expected to be in the office on the same day at least once a week.

Jupiter, the FTSE 250 fund manager, has a “2-2-1 policy,” meaning staff can work two days in the office, two days at home, and choose which location to work the remaining day.

Meanwhile, BlackRock has asked employees to come to its London office at least three days a week as part of its Future of Work pilot program. BlackRock’s London office is the “main” workplace for staff, but they can choose to work from home two days a week, depending on their role.

The Accenture survey results, based on responses from nine of the UK’s top 10 asset managers and seven of the top 10 globally, come as some companies trial four-day weeks as part of a pilot program that began last month.

READ ‘FOMO’ pushes staff back to the office as asset manager decides on hybrid work

The six-month trial, involving 70 UK companies from a range of sectors including hospitality, education and skin care, is being organized by the non-profit group 4 Day Week Global. It is working in partnership with the Autonomy think tank, the 4-Day Week Campaign, and researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and Boston College.

The researchers will examine the impact a shorter workweek has on employee well-being and productivity, as well as any changes to gender equality and the environment.

In asset management, employees seem to have welcomed greater flexibility. Nearly two-thirds of asset management executives surveyed by Accenture said they don’t think they’ve lost talent due to their company’s return-to-work policies, with 60% saying their company will move to a permanent flexible working model.

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“Asset managers have their finger on the pulse in terms of how their employees feel. It is a people-driven business. There will be a lot of talent that they can get from those organizations that have a less flexible approach,” Lowe said.

Some financial services companies are already at the forefront of implementing a shorter work week.

Atom, the challenger bank, announced in November that it had introduced a four-day week for its 430 employees without reducing their salaries.

The bank said it was implementing the change, which had been taken on by most of its staff, “to support better mental and physical well-being of employees along with better business productivity.”

Atom said Mondays or Fridays are expected to be the default days off for most employees, except for those working in service and operational roles whose day off may vary to ensure uninterrupted service for Atom customers.

The Accenture survey also found that asset managers are struggling to keep staff interested in moving to other sectors, with 71% saying they saw a “significant increase” in the number of employees leaving for technology companies in the past few years. last 12 months.

Meanwhile, 62% said employee departures during the same period had been for non-traditional financial services firms, such as fintechs and startups.

“Covid has really opened people’s eyes to what they want to achieve and what they want to know,” Lowe said.

“People think I could have a great foundation in asset management, but a lot of fintechs and newer companies love people with an asset management pedigree – they bring some business context and credibility when it comes to building technology capabilities.”

However, Lowe said that some of those professionals who leave the fund management sector may become “boomerang” employees in the future, returning when they have acquired valuable new skills.

“You will see some of those people leave the asset management industry to get those new skills coming back, as those skills are going to be key for asset managers in the future,” he said.

To contact the author of this story with comments or news, email David Ricketts

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