A bit of a shorter post this week, due to what appears to be more busyness seemingly squeezing the time out of the week. Is anyone else noticing this btw?
I mean lockdown was tough… but with hindsight, it did have the distinct advantage that all of a sudden I seemed to get my weekends back.
There was time to watch a movie, go for a walk, spend quality time with family or just be around the house… all this of course, when I wasn’t cowering behind the sofa afraid of catching something nasty from the supermarket delivery.
Fast forward to today and whilst is it great those old activities have re-appeared, time is just… getting squeezed out. I am finding it hard to still do everything.
Sports activities, meeting friends, commuting, and now even face-to-face meetings. Just how did we manage before? I am at a loss.
What is clear though, we are going to have to find a new balance, or it will be exhausting and we will all start getting burnt out (again).
Remote – hybrid working
This sentiment came up in a global discussion on the collections industry this week too. It was clear that blended working, for the moment at least, is being seen as the preferred, more effective option, maybe it can help in part enable this balance.
Needless to say, this approach is not all rosy. Noises are being made by the FCA about expectations should these (as they see it) temporary arrangements become permanent… and they do not pull their punches.
Firms should be able to prove that the lack of a centralised location or remote working does not or is unlikely to:
- Affect the firm’s location in the UK, or its ability to meet and continue to meet the threshold conditions for the regulated activities it has or will have permission for – or any equivalent requirements, where these do not apply.
- Reduce the accuracy of the Financial Services (FS) Register for others if, for example, consumers are not able to contact the firm at the principal place of business shown on the FS Register.
- Affect the ability of the firm to oversee its functions including any outsourced functions.
- Cause detriment to consumers.
- Damage the integrity of the market.
- Increase the risk of financial crime.
- Reduce competition.
A firm must also prove that there is satisfactory planning:
- That there is a plan in place, which has been reviewed before making any temporary arrangements permanent and is reviewed periodically to identify new risks.
- There is appropriate governance and oversight by senior managers under the Senior Managers regime, and committees such as the Board, and by non-executive directors where applicable, and this governance is capable of being maintained.
- A firm can cascade policies and procedures to reduce any potential for financial crime arising from its working arrangements.
- An appropriate culture can be put in place and maintained in a remote working environment.
- Control functions such as risk, compliance and internal audit can carry out their functions unaffected, such as when listening to client calls or reviewing files.
- The nature, scale and complexity of its activities, or legislation, does not require the presence of an office location.
- It has the systems and controls, including the necessary IT functionality, to support the above factors being in place, and these systems are robust.
- It’s considered any data, cyber and security risks, particularly as staff may transport confidential material and laptops more frequently in a hybrid arrangement.
- It has appropriate record keeping procedures in place.
- It can meet and continue to meet any specific regulatory requirements, such as call recordings, order and trade surveillance, and consumers being able to access services.
- The firm has considered the effect on staff, including wellbeing, training and diversity and inclusion matters.
- Where any staff will be working from abroad the firm has considered the operational and legal risks.
This is one to watch closely and something I know Kevin Still from Demsa has been raising… No doubt we will discuss further on this when we get to chat later in the week.
A new role for conferences and meetings
Outside of financial services and servicing, it does however, on balance, feel as if the world is starting to gradually move towards this outlook of a more hybrid-based model of working. For many it is clearly more efficient (esp managers and knowledge workers).
This being said, judging by everyone’s ecstatic reaction on meeting face to face again the other week, there is something intangible that makes meeting in person so rewarding. This is something that clearly is going to be hard for us to give up completely… as humans we just love social interaction too much.
So, maybe this will become the future of conferences… we work remotely most of the time, then meet up, together in large time-efficient meetings, where we can meet many people in a short period of time. It is networking and spending time together without all the frequent traveling. It is an interesting thought, even from an ESG point of view.
On Environmental Social Governance (ESG)
This was a further interesting topic raised last week. As a topic this has been around for a while now, but maybe off the back of COP26, it seemed to bubble to the top of the agenda again, being raised as a point in Manchester.
For the collections industry, we have, for many other reasons already been focused on good customers outcomes.
However, it was an interesting call as to whether we should also wrap this more formally into a wider social and environmental dimension under ESG. Are we doing enough?
Maybe one to think about a bit more this week.
Have a good week everyone.
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