Successfully balancing all of our commitments in life is part of what it is to be human. The majority of us will have a role to play in our families, a job to hold down and a social life to keep up, while also needing to keep some time aside for ourselves. Juggling these is one of the chief challenges of our era.
Good employers understand that work-life balance is more than just helping staff manage their time – it’s about encouraging growth and development too.
It’s a challenge for employers too, if they’re genuinely serious about the wellbeing of their teams. Phrases like ‘work-life balance’ have been around for some time, however good employers also understand that it’s not just a question of helping their team members manage their time but encouraging their growth and development too.
At First Wealth, as our own team continues to grow, this is a key focus for us. In short, it’s about recognising our staff as people who are part of a bigger life picture, being flexible and allowing them to define and pursue what matters most to them for the benefit of themselves, the firm and our clients.
Creating the Culture
So, what does this approach look like in practice? Firstly, at First Wealth we do all the practical things we can to create a structure that works around the lives of our team members. Our flexible working hours can help those with families to juggle the school run or childcare, but they’re also handy if you’ve got theatre tickets or a night class in Swahili (which I have recently started learning!). As long as there is appropriate cover in the office, the team can use this flexibility however it suits them best.
If we need to immerse ourselves in a big piece of work, we can work remotely if we need to. In fact, First Wealth Co-Founder and Managing Director, Anthony, works from home two days a week since he and his family moved out of London to live in Dorset. Mums returning from maternity leave can work part-time and slowly increase their hours in step with their transition back into the rhythms of working life. We encourage team members not to work at weekends and our office phones are set to the hours of 9am to 5pm during the week.
We recognise that staff have a life outside of work but also that their personal and professional lives often overlap.
We like to look after our staff too, beyond the expected allocation of annual holiday and their benefits package. After five years in the First Wealth team, everyone is entitled to a paid, month-long sabbatical to use as they wish. When team members get married or have a baby, we like to give them a bonus or a gift to celebrate. My passion is travel and I was lucky enough to take separate trips to Sri Lanka and Japan last year, with the leeway to book enough holiday to do both destinations justice – something that’s certainly not a given with all employers.
All these tools and initiatives are in place to recognise that staff have a life outside of work but also that their personal and professional lives often overlap. The aim is to create a culture where, when they are in the office, the team are motivated, focused and happy.
Progressing In Step
On the work side of the work-life balance, the advantages of a truly flexible business are just as evident. At First Wealth we encourage staff to identify what matters most to them in their jobs and work with them to achieve it. Being adaptable enough to tie their ambitions together with the growth and progress of the firm can bring great advantages.
First Wealth don’t hold back or pigeon-hole staff based on arbitrary factors – we reward talent and potential.
To use myself as an example, I’m currently making the transition to dealing more directly with a larger portfolio of clients. I have always enjoyed working with a healthy group of clients, but a significant part of my role was managing the more technical concerns behind the scenes. However, the time is now right for me to grow professionally and for the role to grow with me. Some advisers might do this at an earlier stage in their career, but this timing suited me best. First Wealth have respected and supported that because we allow team members to develop at their own pace. Similarly, if a more junior colleague showed the desire and ability to progress particularly early then we would support them in just the same way (my colleague Joe is a good example of this). We don’t hold back or pigeon-hole staff based on their age or any other, what we would see as, arbitrary factors and we reward talent and potential wherever we find it.
Taking on more clients myself gives other senior staff the freedom and time to explore their own passions beyond the daily concerns of running the firm – like developing our service offering or planning the future direction of the business. Everyone has the chance to grow and benefit from this flexibility, from new starters right up to the directors, and it allows us to offer genuine career progression. Moving up the ladder with some firms basically just means moving to another job, but this is a short-sighted approach and can be totally demoralising for the workforce. We are always looking for ways that the business and our team members can grow in step with each other, with both expanding their skillset and enriching their offering at the same time.
Great for Clients, Too
An environment where we are encouraged to increase and develop our skills is great for our clients too. I’m currently doing some training with the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) who are dedicated to better standards and access to financial advice for older people, which in turn can help provide an improved service to our older clients and their families. I’m also a dementia friend and have encouraged other team members to take part in the initiative.
When it comes to managing work and life, we should seek more than just a balance, and believe in how they can actually be mutually beneficial.
As a long-time member and supporter of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), I’ve become a CII Education Champion, which means I go into schools and work through financial scenarios via a team-based game with pupils. The aim of this is to boost the profile of financial planning as a profession and great career and also keeps me in tune with how the younger generation think about money and finance. In effect, it’s helping to educate and support the next generation of both advisers and investors at the same time.
At First Wealth, we’re committed to being flexible, nurturing skills and truly investing in our staff. We support our team members to focus in on what matters most to them and harness this drive for the good of them and their careers, the growth of the business and the benefit of clients. When it comes to managing work and life, we should seek more than just a balance, and believe in how they can actually be mutually beneficial.
If you’d like to discuss how our motivated and multi-skilled team can help you with your financial planning, please get in touch.