Mental health mindfullness

Focusing on mental health within the financial investment and advisory world can deliver some significant business benefits, according to a panel of industry experts.

Dealing with employee mental health could be considered one of the last great taboos in the City, according to Paul Feeney, CEO of Quilter, and tackling the issue head on is not only the right thing to do, but will help firms in the long run.

Feeney was speaking at the Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association’s (PIMFA) Summit 2019 on a panel discussing leadership and wellbeing, 

Discussing the benefits for business, he noted being more open about wellbeing had seen staff satisfaction improve in his company. “If this can make our company a happier place to work…then it is good business too.”

Michael Heyworth, head of Client Delivery at Coutts concurred, adding that if someone came to work describing themselves as operating at 60% (due to stress, either at home or at work), giving them some time to get back to 100% would produce better results than if that employee continued to work without raising the issue, and gradually fell to 0%, at which point they would be inefficient and need substantial recovery time.

Ultimately, superior staff mental wellbeing will see staff having to take less time off work due to stress or depression, because it can be handled and managed in the office.

Coutts has begun to include staff satisfaction as part of its performance reviews, as opposed to financial results being the sole metric used when judging success, he added.

When asked what Coutts did if it encountered resistance from staff around opening up the firm’s culture in order to make the workplace a space where employees are comfortable revealing mental health issues, Heyworth said they showed them how such a move made business sense.

This includes higher staff retention rates, as well as better client satisfaction. Clients want real relationships with their relationship managers, and Heyworth argued staff who felt comfortable opening up at work felt more comfortable opening up with their clients, resulting in better relationships 

Mark Twigg, executive director at Cicero, added that if an employee did not agree with the importance of staff wellbeing to company culture even after being presented with the facts, then it might be best to part ways.

This does not mean they have to be proactive in promoting mental health and wellbeing awareness, or becoming an ambassador for it, but Twigg said it’s important not to ‘trash the culture.’

Part of creating this supportive environment may include decoding the language used in the office, looking for unconscious bias, and the types of phrases which can discourage staff from speaking about their problems – for example the phrase ‘man up’.

Ultimately, if firms have a culture causing their staff mental health problems, they may need to change how they think if they wish to succeed in the long run. 

More investors are paying attention to mental fitness thanks to initiatives such as Mindful Investor, a future-facing programme that measures and improves wellbeing and inclusion within the investment community.

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