The finance industry is facing a rapid period of change as the result of disruptive tech, regulatory changes and the economic landscape. But how will this impact the ways financial institutions function internally? What can companies do to manage their brand and reputation? And what will this mean for employee engagement and recruitment in the future? Our new series Taking Stock will explore these questions and offer solutions – starting with how to communicate the uncertainties around Brexit.
We are, as a country, going through a period of transition. We are treading new ground, and facing a relatively uncertain future economically. It should be no surprise that this is, in part, due to the historic Brexit referendum outcome. The result, announced in May 2016, threw up more questions than it answered, and even now – almost two years later – much remains unresolved.
However, despite much still being up in the air, organisations in the finance sector must ensure they are prepared for potential disruption, and need to be fully aware of how best to communicate changes with employees. Being open, honest and transparent when it comes to any decisions that could result in significant upheaval is essential.
However, as well as the Brexit fallout, organisations need also be aware of regulatory changes that must be communicated to employees. Failure to do so could not only put businesses at a competitive disadvantage, but could lead to them being hit with weighty fines.
There is often a thin line separating an acceptable action from an unacceptable one, and internal communications are vital to making sure all members of staff know how to stay on the right side of the law, what challenges they may face going forward, and how they can tackle upcoming hurdles.
Unpredictable, hazardous and liable to cause havoc if not adequately monitored: you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m describing the ancient creatures depicted so wonderfully in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster. But I’m actually talking about something far more contemporary: the UK’s divorce from the EU.
Brexit is liable to result in any number of changes for financial institutions located or based in the UK, and no two organisations will face the exact same challenges. However, something that all financial companies must ensure they do is keep on top of how they may be impacted, and subsequently inform employees about what changes mean for them individually.
When it comes to messaging on matters such as this, clarity is key. Something on the scale of Brexit, which is not truly comparable to any other incident in modern history, is complex and somewhat puzzling, so engaging employees, and letting them know what approaches and tactics their employer is adopting, can put them at ease.
An internal communications campaign, structured around a solid content strategy, is a fantastic way of showing employees that they are valued. By keeping staff regularly updated, giving additional insight with regard to the change, and allowing them to ask questions or discuss progress, they will understand that the organisation has their best interests at heart.
Keeping on top of regulatory change
Regardless of what the regulatory changes entails – whether it be the need to adopt new ways of storing sensitive data, or to introduce a more robust sign-off procedure – ensuring all employees are aware not only of the new ways of working, but of the potential consequences associated with failing to adhere to them, is vital.
Let’s take GDPR as an example. GDPR – an acronym for the impending General Data Protection Regulation – is an EU law that will regulate the use and treatment of an individual’s personal data. This is a very big deal. And, despite the fact that Brexit is happening, GDPR is going to come into effect in the UK in May 2018.
Even if you’re confident that you and your business are clued up on data protection, it’s worth being aware of what could happen should you fall foul of GDPR. Any company found guilty of employing poor data protection practices will not only be breaking the law, but could face a hefty €20 million fine, or four per cent of a company’s annual turnover. Put simply, GDPR is not something that any finance firm can afford to take lightly.
With this in mind, it is absolutely crucial that all company employees understand what they are allowed to do with data, what they are not allowed to do with it, and why it is imperative they comply with the rules.
And then there’s things like MiFID II, which came into effect in January 2018, and has been designed to offer greater protection for investors, as well as inject more transparency into all asset classes. Major changes like this will only be fully effective if all employees are made aware of the situation, understand its impact, and know how – if at all – they must alter their working practices.
A well thought out and carefully structured internal communications campaign can not only educate, but could potentially save companies millions in terms of avoided fines. Planning ahead, understanding who needs to be reached, and finding the most appropriate ways of disseminating information, will ensure the right messages, reach the right people, at the right time.