Signed, sealed, delivered

Wed 22 Jan 2014

Equiniti did so much more than successfully handle the privatisation of Royal Mail. It also opened doors for the future

Royal Mail Logo

As organisations go, Royal Mail is one of the most recognisable in Great Britain. For years, this company has delivered our parcels, popped letters through our letterboxes and helped get messages to businesses across the world. So it’s no surprise that when government took the decision to privatise this very public service, it became one of the highest-profile Initial Public Offerings (IPO) that Equiniti has ever processed. Here are five different Equiniti perspectives on the project and what it meant for them to be involved.

Bob Birkhead, Senior Service Delivery Manager, Employee Benefit Solutions

Working on a project as high profile as this was very rewarding. When the project started, a lot of the finer details needed to be established, including around the Employee Priority Offer and exactly how Royal Mail employees would be awarded 10% of the business in shares. So we had to work simultaneously on four different scenarios, until our client the Government decided on using the Share Incentive Plan (SIP). Following this, I was the lead on the employee share plan dealing, so I worked closely with different Royal Mail work streams to coordinate the process.

In addition to written communications, we participated in drop-in clinics over a three-week period at 109 Royal Mail sites. To accommodate employees’ shift patterns, we worked with Royal Mail representatives to hold these clinics from early in the morning until late in the evening. In total we saw around 8,000 people.

This project went really well and we have had some great feedback from our client. This was the biggest privatisation we have worked on in a very long time, and the success of it is sure to open doors for us.

Claire Vaughan, Senior IT Project Manager

The IT team was made up of a number of workstreams to deliver the systems supporting this project. It was vital that milestones were met in each area to provide an integrated system solution for each stage of the offer. This meant working closely with a number of internal and external workstreams, as well as multiple third-party suppliers to establish timelines, implement infrastructure, coordinate data exchanges and align delivery of various components.

We provided the marketing and application websites, which needed to cater to high volumes of users and surges in demand. As well as the websites that the public and Royal Mail employees used, there was also a great deal of work going on to provide back-end systems. We needed to deliver solutions to scan paper applications received and capture the PDF applications downloaded from the website. We also had to make sure our systems provided the functionality to reconcile the applications and online payments, apply the correct allocations and produce all of the print files for the email notifications, share certificates, refund cheques and welcome packs.

Ultimately, this was the biggest online share offer in the UK and great teamwork and dedication ensured its success

Darren Charles, Contact Centre Manager

The Contact Centre was involved in the Royal Mail IPO process from tender right through to completion of the project. Given the size of the task, we didn’t have a point of reference in the marketplace when planning for potential call volumes, so we had to use the expertise we have at Equiniti to build models and work with our client, the Government, to make reasonable assumptions as to what the interest and call volumes would be following the floatation.

This task provided us with the opportunity to implement new ways of customer contact. Royal Mail was keen to have a web chat feature, which was something we hadn’t used before, however we implemented it and staffed the facility from 6am until 11pm to accommodate Royal Mail staff’s working hours. We also created a social media presence via Twitter, open for eligible employees wanting information on the ESO (employee share offering) and fielded vital enquiries via this channel.

Naturally, our call volumes increased significantly. We normally handle 160,000 calls a month, but when the IPO was in progress, we answered an additional 140,000 calls in a single month. Even though our call numbers almost doubled, we still retained our excellent customer satisfaction rate of 92–93%. That was really down to the commitment of staff across the Contact Centre.

We had successfully processed over 56,000 sale instructions, selling over 14 million shares

Neill Sullivan, Senior Manager, Investment Services

On the back of the Royal Mail IPO, we provided a number of different share dealing services for shareholders, one of which was a new facility, an automated telephone instruction (ATI) channel. This service allowed shareholders to sell their shares by placing an instruction through an automated telephone service.

ATI was established as Royal Mail was keen to offer shareholders a range of ways to place their share instructions. We responded with ATI, which as well as helping with the huge volume of calls we anticipated, was also designed to be easy to use, especially for people who had little experience in share dealing services. By the end of the task we had successfully processed over 56,000 sale instructions, selling over 14 million shares.

We are renowned for our customer service. To make sure that our service levels remained high, we reviewed our operational structure and took on additional resource to support us throughout this project. ATI also helped minimise the impact on business as usual.

This was a really exciting project and there was a lot of thinking on your feet and responding quickly as the client’s requirements evolved. As a team, we were flexible and adaptable and I was very proud of how committed my team was.

Gavin Lane, Senior Manager, Corporate Actions

After 17 years of working within the Corporate Actions team, it was a fantastic opportunity to be responsible for the operational design and delivery of the Royal Mail IPO. Our team’s combined experience of delivering a number of large corporate events over the past five years meant that we had the expertise to successfully manage this project.

With no major online IPO precedence to assist with forecasting application volumes, we needed to take full advantage of our online capabilities to be operationally effective. Our dynamic web system resulted in thousands of online applications per second with real-time 24/7 application data being available. We also applied scanning technology with character recognition software to record new shareholder registration details for all paper applications.

We welcomed a very strong team of individuals from a number of different areas of our business, and around 130 agency staff members joined us. This ensured we were adequately resourced to successfully deliver this task.

This IPO culminated in the creation of a new FTSE 100 share register with over 400,000 shareholders. Being involved in such a large task and seeing the great partnerships formed was incredibly rewarding. The exceptional teamwork and our technology offering were what made this project such a great success.

Signed Sealed Delivered

A bright future lies ahead

Winning the Royal Mail IPO allowed Equiniti to demonstrate that it could cope with a task on such a grand scale. Not only did it meet the demands of a high-profile client, but Equiniti also showed that it could balance a very demanding project and still deliver the levels of service that its customers have come to expect. Teamwork, commitment and Equiniti’s expertise has resulted in the Royal Mail IPO being a huge success and will undoubtedly create further opportunities of this scale in the future.