Rathbones signs the C-19 Business Pledge
Responsibility is at the core of our values as we invest for everyone’s tomorrow. That means doing the right thing for our clients, employees and other stakeholders too. Now more than ever we recognise the need to provide support in the fight against COVID-19. We are pleased to demonstrate our support for the C-19 Business Pledge alongside many other businesses, committing to working together to support our people, our clients and communities.
Rathbones has over 1,500 employees across the UK and Jersey, most of whom are now successfully working remotely. We have identified some key employees who attend our offices at varying frequencies and have made arrangements to ensure these critical people who support essential processes, are able to do so safely in line with the strict government guidelines.
We recognise at this time that all of our employees are working under different and varied conditions, which create new both new opportunities and additional pressures. Contact and meeting frequency has been high, and we have undertaken surveys to assess the working conditions and productivity of our staff. Findings from these many interactions are assessed and responded to by a dedicated committee. We have reprioritised investment in IT solutions and infrastructure that facilitate home working, foster digital communication and provide physical equipment to employees at home as necessary.
We recognise that a proportion of our people will find remote working particularly difficult. As a result, we have strengthened our support networks for them. The Rathbones Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a confidential service provided by an independent organisation (CiC). It offers support to employees, their partners and dependant family members whenever it is needed and across a broad range of issues ranging from stress or depression, to relationship issues or financial concerns. The EAP provides support in three different ways: a 24-hour advice line, a self-help website and a telephone helpline for managerial advice. The EAP can also offer support through confidential counselling sessions. Our healthcare provider, AXA PPP, is also running a range of live question and answer sessions to give further support to employees and their wellbeing. Further information is held on our intranet.
We also offer support through an internal network, the Rathbones Mental Health First Aiders (RMHFA). These employees are trained to sign-post our people to suitable support. A shared email address and clear contact details mean that employees can make direct contact if they wish. The RMHFA also circulate regular emails on how to take care of and improve mental health. We also partner with Mindfulness in the Workplace, who run online sessions and offer access to a mindfulness app.
At times of high pressure, we understand that bringing our employees together for fun remains important. Our Sports and Social Committee continue to organise regular virtual events for all employees that have been very well received.
At the outset of the crisis, we recognised as many of our clients are also feeling the impacts of this crisis, and with this in mind we have made client contact a key priority. This has been felt by our clients as evidenced by many that have taken the time to write to us to offer their thanks and support. As investment markets have been more volatile recently, it was more important than ever that we ensure that our tailored services were available to our clients and that we were easily contactable to provide the advice and reassurance that many have sought. We have achieved and continue to achieve our goals.
We have also revised our processes to make it easier for clients to make requests or give instructions whilst remaining compliant with our regulatory obligations and this work to improve will continue. In addition to a considerable amount of material on how investment markets are behaving, I have also written to our clients directly to ensure they have clear lines of communication about our readiness and resilience. Our investment managers, advisors and planners remain in regular contact with their clients and other contacts via telephone, video call and email. For those clients who may struggle with the need to rely on electronic communications we have retained a capability to deal with hard copy correspondence.
At this time, cyber security is of course more important than ever. We have therefore expanded the advice and guidance on our website on staying cyber safe, and taken other actions to raise awareness of the heightened risks in these more difficult times.
Society and communities
Communities are facing many unexpected impacts at the moment which will continue to be felt in the long-term. It is widely acknowledged that the national response to COVID-19 has seen an increase in calls to charities from people struggling from the isolation, loneliness and in many cases the associated financial issues. Rathbones is raising money for both Mental Health UK and the Trussell Trust to address the immediate needs of society via employee donations, fundraising and matched giving. These charities were voted for by our employees in recognition of their important work during this crisis.
Over and above the direct corporate support, the Rathbone Brothers Foundation is funding a number of regional projects who are active in those communities around our offices. For example, our Bristol office is supporting FareShare emergency COVID-19 appeal in the South West, helping to distribute surplus food to over 250 local charities. Their support will fund the distribution of over 40,000 meals to vulnerable children and families. This commitment to local action is replicated across our offices with employees able to support a local charity of their choice and apply for matching from the Foundation to increase the impact of the donation.
As the situation continues to develop, we are committed to reviewing our approach and doing what we can to help support our people, our clients and society as a whole.
CEO, Rathbone Brothers Plc