Tomorrow’s Talent – Sustaining and Building a Financial Services Future

30th August 2019

Dunstan Thomas is committed to developing young talent so that being at Dunstan Thomas is more than just a job. Chris Read, founder and CEO of Dunstan Thomas says:
“Working at Dunstan Thomas is about creating a sense of purpose, learning skills, enriching experiences, contributing to society, but most importantly being enthused and having fun, after all, we spend many years of our lives at work, so why not enjoy and be rewarded by it.”
Dunstan Thomas runs a series of workshops to develop staff. The Sustaining and Building a Financial Services Future workshop provides insight into personal finances, personal development and career development. This was delivered on the 16th August 2019, involving the youngest members of the DT workforce. The workshop was led by Adrian Boulding, Director of Retirement Strategy, who delivered seven components, each of which defined a problem statement and solution intending to inform participants encouraging insightful discussion.

#1 - Introductions
Each participant introduced themselves and explained their route to begin working at DT, varying from students gaining experiences to joining from other companies in the financial services sector.

#2 - Financial Apps & Technology
Adrian began with a roundtable discussion on which apps each participant found useful. Typically, this consisted of banking apps, in which simplicity and adding value were most important.

#3 - The Lifecycle Of Financial Needs
To display how lifetime assets build and decay through time and major events, Adrian referred to a graph based on Deborah Cooper’s paper to Institute of Actuaries, displayed below. This demonstrates the varying circumstances which may result in a sharp increase or decreases of available spending money. For example, the blue section decreases at age 47 as this is typically when children leave home, but is replaced by pension contributions.

Paired with this graph is the concept of financial age. Financial age, which determines how mature a person is with their money, is calculated through the level of financial stress, pension contributions, savings targets and accounts. But what is a good financial age? As a group it was decided that typically a ‘good’ financial age would align with the person’s actual age, as this demonstrates that they are financially maturing in line with the circumstances discussed above.

Interestingly, several participants ended up with the same financial age (26), despite the variation in actual age (20-26). This led to interesting discussion on why this was the case – which factors affected our financial age the most? The two clearest answers were savings targets (saving for a house would increase your financial age much more than saving for a holiday) and method of transport (owning a car increased your financial age).

#4 - Career Development
The fourth slot centred around the progression of the participants careers, particularly in terms of skills learned at DT. The general consensus was that the participants had developed their independent decision-making and understanding of financial services, while some had developed assertiveness or their management of tasks and time. For newer employees, a large part of their learning experience revolved around learning how to work with others in an office environment. This discussion highlighted the strength of DT in developing the skills of their workforce, particularly through encouraging independent thought and input.

Coffee Break - Adrian's Biscuit Challenge
Adrian challenged DT staff to compare a standard McVities Digestive Biscuit (95p) to the Lidl version (31p) and evaluate them in terms of value for money. Across the Lakeside office as a whole, 15 people voted for Lidl compared to 7 for McVities.

#5 - DT's commitment to developing young talent
Chris Read, CEO of Dunstan Thomas, took the floor to explain how employers are custodians of talented staff and should help to develop and improve them. To demonstrate this point, Chris referred to numerous ex-employees who have left DT to venture into different careers, which ranged from working for Microsoft, to being self-employed to remaining in the financial services industry. The aim was for employees to have left believing that they have greatly benefitted from their years at Dunstan Thomas.

The conversation shifted towards Dunstan Thomas input towards social good, or at it is more commonly referred to ‘corporate social responsibility’. Commitment towards social issues is vital for employees to buy into an organisation, but as Chris noted, the aim of this must be social good rather than corporate profit, a sentiment echoed by all participants. This is demonstrated not only in Dunstan Thomas’ work with charities (such as Singing Gorilla Projects ), but also through partnerships with the university and local schools, in which DT takes an active role in developing young talent.

#6 - Pensions are boring, right?
Adrian resumed control of the workshop by asking two questions – do you know if you are in a pensions scheme and do you know how much you are paying into this scheme? Nationally, 8% don’t know if they are in a scheme, while only 57% know how much they are paying. Fortunately, each of the participants in the workshop had the answers to these questions, though this may have been as several of the younger participants had only just set up their pensions scheme!

Adrian then introduced the NEST Sidecar savings project, a voluntary workplace pension scheme that houses the employee’s statutory minimum auto-enrolment contributions. Members of the project can choose to save an extra £25 or £50 a month, which initially go into an ‘Emergency Fund’ and can be used at any time for any purpose. At £100 these are diverted into the pension scheme. This is valuable knowledge for a young audience who may not have been aware of the existence of such a scheme.

#7 - Vision & Conclusion
Adrian closed the workshop with a few video interviews of millennials and their saving habits – one of whom stored their savings under their pillow! Adrian encouraged all to do better than this, to always have control over their finances, whether through savings or pension contribution.

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