Iain Lowe, HR Manager explains why professional development and the well-being of employees is crucial to business performance, particularly as a business continues to grow. *
2020 has been a landmark year for Ocorian. Following the acquisition and subsequent merger of Estera in February, we're now 1,200 people across 16 locations and have assets under administration of more than £260bn, which means we're well inside the top 10 in terms of revenue, if not the top five or six. We still have sizeable ambitions too, with the goal of doubling in size again in the next three to four years.
Of course, this rapid growth strategy brings with it a number of challenges from a human resources perspective. One of those challenges is how to retain the standards and commitment to employee wellbeing and professional development at scale, particularly whilst COVID-19 continues to affect traditional ways of working.
Championing career growth
Supporting employees to engage in professional development has a number of benefits. From helping to attract and retain top candidates and raising employee satisfaction, to enhancing business reputation and ultimately boosting bottom line, investing in education for employees is beneficial for both employees and the business.
In order to help our colleagues identify courses suitable to their development, we set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) objectives for training. That way, professional development is closely aligned with business needs.
For example, we frequently financially support employees to complete the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) qualification. ICSA delivers internationally recognised qualifications to suit a variety of professional requirements. For those working in the financial services industry, becoming ICSA certified provides a thorough understanding of funds, trusts, investments and governance and therefore both Ocorian and the employee benefits from the investment.
ICSA is just one of the qualifications we provide ongoing support for. Many of our employees choose to pursue qualifications with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the International Compliance Association, and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), amongst others. In recognition of our commitment to professional development, we were delighted to receive platinum accreditation from STEP and ACCA in June 2020, endorsing our best-in-class professional development and training programme.
Q&A with Annie Goubert, Senior Fund Administrator
Annie, how has your career developed with Ocorian?
I joined Ocorian as a Trainee in 2016, coming straight from sixth form. Since then, I have been working through my ICSA qualification and my career at Ocorian has progressed alongside it. In June last year I won the 'Best Performance in Fund Administration' accolade for my ICSA examination and I was also recently promoted to Senior Fund Administrator.
How accommodating has Ocorian and your team been in supporting your progress?
Professional qualifications are important but they are also expensive and require significant study time, so Ocorian's financial support and study leave allowance is invaluable in helping employees meet their individual aspirations.
My team have been very accommodating and have guided me through my professional development, especially colleagues who have also taken professional qualifications - it's great to have people who have experienced the same challenges on-hand for support.
Are you planning further qualifications?
I'm hoping to take the professional examinations that lead to Graduateship of The Charted Governance Institute and in due course, pursue full membership.
Employee wellbeing is paramount. Yet it encompasses more than just physical health and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for employers to really understand their employees. It is in the interest of the business to do so; an engaged, healthy workforce will be productive and creative, better cope with work demands and make meaningful contributions.
Many of us have found certain aspects of lockdown difficult to adapt to and our mental health has likely suffered in some way. Whether it be living alone and self-isolating for several months, not being able to see family and friends or one of the other implications of lockdown, the past six months have been particularly challenging. Therefore, one of the wellbeing initiatives we ran this spring was a series of managing change workshops. Through these instructor-led virtual sessions, we had open discussions about our attitudes to change, developed personal coping strategies and self-care methods, and developed a range of skills to successfully help manage change that could be applied to both our work and everyday lives.
Growth and change can be challenging, but if we have effective support and development frameworks embedded within our culture, our business will continue to grow because of the people within it.
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