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Stick, carrot, and a day at the races: 10 top tips on incentivising staff

With the Financial Servicers Authority increasing its scrutiny of how staff in banks and advisory firms are incentivised, we take a look at how 10 top IFAs keep their staff motivated and the regulator on side.

Barry Horner

Paradigm Norton

The constant focus which underpins how we treat our staff is the desire to build a culture where people believe in the integrity, ethics and objectives of the business. Our staff are all on our ‘develop everyone’ scheme, where each quarter they sit down with a line manager to discuss their personal and technical development, and set new targets for their next one.

Personal development is a big thing for us and we have a set career structure which gives people the outline for how they can progress. Technical progression is gauged through exam achievement, and we use an internal assessment system for rating how people perform on significant pieces of work.

For senior staff we also have an enterprise management scheme where senior fee earners get the option to take stock in the business- another important means of cementing our culture of inclusion and engagement.

Dave Robinson

Albert Goodman

It's not about money for us. We don't offer any bonuses, instead choosing to offer salaries which we feel are highly competitive and are regularly reviewed.

We hope that people will be incentivised by the culture and values of the company. We promote a relatively informal work environment internally and structure the staff as a collective of small teams. This allows people to take on more responsibility within their sphere of influence, and ensures people feel they are valued and important.

Communication is extremely important. We hold staff forums, where a representative of each team is present and can have influence on internal decisions and changes.

Training is important too, and we endeavour to support everyone in their goals and objectives, and facilitate an environment where they can perform to the extent of their abilities.

The staff day out provides an opportunity for everyone to have a good time- the last couple of years we have taken the whole company to Cheltenham races, paying for lunch, drinks and a few bets.

Alistair Creevy

Independent Advisers (Scotland)

Bonuses have to be about money: that is the main motivation. All staff have to be rewarded and recognised for their achievements. The difficulty lies with how to measure the performance of back office staff- what parameters do you work with? Who tracks their performance? Could the awarding of different people upset relationships within the team?

Gordon Wilson

Carbon Financial Partners

We offer very competitive salary and benefits packages to our team and we are very flexible.

The business is very supportive of any requests which involve training, education or professional and personal development.

We like to involve everyone in our teams and look to vary the nature of the work through individual and team projects.

We encourage people to take responsibility, come up with ideas and to use their initiative. Then we pay bonuses based on what we term 'discretionary effort' i.e. where any team member goes the extra mile and contributes beyond what would be expected of them.

Simon Gibson

Atkinson Bolton

For client-facing employees we have bonuses structured around key performance indicators, and a discretionary bonus scheme for managers to nominate non-client facing employees who have performed extraordinarily in the previous two months.

There is a profit-related pay scheme for all employees, relative to where the company outperforms budget targets.

Alongside pension, life and medical benefits and Christmas and birthday presents, in recent years we have also taken the staff away for an annual conference to locations such as Barcelona. Another important way to keep up staff morale is to emphasise their job security and be transparent about company performance.

We have town hall meetings every two months to explain how company is doing, and people enjoy that honesty and understanding.

Gaynor Booth

Equilibrium Asset Management

A highly motivated, well-functioning team is beyond any money you can pay. We try to facilitate this in a number of ways. There is a company bonus for all non-advisory staff, where staff can earn an extra 13% of their salary by achieving targets. Last year it was on assets, this year it is on turnover. Advisory staff are also paid a percentage according to the amount they are earning for the company.

We give our staff 33 days holiday per year. We want individuals who use their time off to re-energise themselves and become more rounded people. We also look to increase staff involvement by ensuring that any internal changes are run through a ‘task force’ representing all parts of the company, ensuring that everyone has some influence, and people are kept in the loop.

Neil Shillito

SG Wealth

For all non-advising staff we have a bonus scheme broadly based on a percentage of company profit. The share depends upon seniority and job responsibility and is measured on key performance indicators such as timekeeping, sick days, and meeting deadlines.

Alongside this, we have a staff pension scheme to which SG Wealth will match employee contributions up to a maximum of 5%. Around four times a year we will have a staff jolly. This might be closing the office on a Friday at 12 and going off to the pub for lunch, or in the case of this coming Christmas, we’re boarding the train to London, shopping in Covent Garden and going for lunch at Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie.

Overall, we try to be fair and flexible. If a member of staff needs to come in two hours late or leave two hours early, we always try and accommodate. We don’t always ask for the time to be paid back minute for minute, but prefer an approach where if we ask that same employee for a favour-in-kind they will respond.

Saran Allot-Davey

Heron House Financial Management

Whatever you give staff, you will always get it back, so I find it very short sighted when companies don’t treat their staff well. Every quarter we review the company’s profits and if targets have been reached, or surpassed, we pay a bonus to our staff.

My co-owner and I also sit down and discuss each member of staff’s performance and how much they should receive. We keep how we measure this quite flexible, but it’s usually used in a positive manner, rather than as a punitive measure.

We also think it’s important to involve people’s families. Every year we have a staff day out to help with team building (it was rock climbing this year), and people can invite their spouses along for dinner and the night at the hotel.

In the summer we also have a family day where everyone brings their kids. It means that if there is ever issues at home people can be more comfortable in sharing what is going on. We are also happy to grant unpaid leave.

This year one of the younger members of staff is going off to do the Mongol Rally and we’ve been happy to give him time off and support his charity.

Neil Chamberlain

Worldwide Financial Planning

The incentive has to come from within people. We want our staff to share our values of integrity and honesty, and find reward in realising their personal objectives within the job. At the end of this year we are going to The Sandpit Facility within the Academy for Innovation and Research at Falmouth University. This a day in which the staff can talk about why we are doing things and how we do them, and what our vision is for next year. The ability to make a difference and a real sense of place are pretty powerful incentives. That, and the fact you get to live so close to the beach.

Andy Bracken

Timothy James & Partners

We have strict rules that our client-facing advisers do not receive bonuses.

This is to ensure that we can retain complete independence and integrity in our service for clients.

Instead, the directors have put 10% of the company shareholding into an employee stock trust, and after five years advisers get awarded a share of that accordingly. We wanted to incentivise the long term commitment to our firm.

People could probably earn more money in the short term elsewhere, but we want them to be in it for the whole journey. Our non-client facing staff all receive a flat, monetary bonus, and we also give individual presents for Christmas.

Last year we had charm bracelets made for all the girls in the office and personalised shirts, ties and cufflinks for the men. Everyone gets five presents each, so quite a lot of effort goes into it.