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Employee Services Forum Digest

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

There’s no silver bullet but…

 Key takeaway: A quiet revolution is taking place 

There is no simple way to implement new corporate governance guidelines, EU legislation and reporting regulations, according to the participants at the Equiniti Employee Services Forum 2017. Every business must develop its own personalised approach and introduce a raft of measures according to their specific priorities.

Most companies are already on this journey but some are more prepared than others. The Forum gave delegates the opportunity to hear from those who are passionate about making improvements in the spirit of the changes rather than just treating them as a box-ticking exercise. They are gradually and continuously increasing transparency, diversity and engagement across their organisations.

Andrew Ninian of The Investment Association summarised the situation succinctly when it comes to Executive Pay saying, “A quiet revolution has been going on and we’ve been making a lot of progress.” Or, as David Ellis from EY concluded in the final plenary, “There’s life in tweaking yet!”

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In brief: What we covered

Taking place on 13 September at The Grand in Brighton, overlooking a windblown promenade and wave-lashed beach, this year’s conference featured broad debates about the latest on executive pay and the gender pay gap; stakeholder and employee engagement; FinTech, biometrics and cyber security. It also looked in-detail at the compliance landscape, EU regulation and the impact on share plans.


This article outlines just a handful of highlights from the day. For more on each topic, the slides referenced are available on the EQ Events app. Click on “Agenda”, then the relevant presentation and scroll to the foot of the page, or follow the links in this article.

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Executive Pay: Revolution or more of the same?

 Executive Pay will always be in the media spotlight and this year it’s likely to be the Gender Pay Gap requirements and CEO Pay Ratio publications that make headlines. Other concerns for the next 12 months are:

  • How to address the Corporate Governance Review
  • How to ensure the required focus on long-termism, such as post-retirement holdings
  • How to deal with polemic stakeholders’ views
  • How to prepare for the Public Register



79% of attendees think it will be easy to produce the proposed CEO pay ratio. While finding the data might be simple, what could the impact be when the results are made available to the public – and employees?

While there are changes afoot, these are not expected to happen overnight. 19% of attendees believe there will be a move towards restricted shares and 15% that there could be a simplification to paying in cash. But the overwhelming majority – 64% – think that, when it comes to Executive Pay, there will be a continuation of the status quo, with small changes being made often.

 For more:

  • Plenary 1: Executive Pay in the Spotlight
  • Breakout 1: Board Engagement with Stakeholders
  • Plenary 4: Where next for Executive Pay?


Diversity: A genuine focus for everyone

Demanding millennials were never far away from discussion, with their impact already being felt as businesses adapt their long-term retention strategies.

Inclusion and gender were also hot topics, especially with Gender Pay Gap information due to be published before next April. When it comes to how to address these issues, awareness of unconscious bias and gender culture throughout systems, policies and processes are just the beginning.

For more:

  • Breakout 4: The Gender Pay Gap: a Legal and D&I Perspective
  • Plenary 3: “Secret Sauce”. How Employee Experience is Pivotal in Balancing the Co Sec Stakeholder Trinity

Regulation: Keeping people awake at night

 Changes that need to be made as a result of MiFID, GDPR and Brexit loom large for compliance and risk departments. These complex, highly-scrutinised and detailed rules require diligence and expertise to implement as simply and successfully as possible. What will all this mean for employees, for data and for investors? Some delegates have started to bring these changes into the way they operate, but plenty more is still to be done.

 For practical advice:

  • Breakout 2: Are you EU Ready?
  • Breakout 3: Compliance and Regulation Roundup

Employee engagement: The answer to everything?

Many conversations came back to the importance of focusing on employee engagement. It is vital, with human capital seen as a competitive advantage for 71% of CEOs and organisations excelling in this area experiencing more profit, lower staff turnover and a 3.8% higher stock return. So how can employee potential be tapped in a disrupted, highly-complex world? Transparency and addressing inclusivity issues are key, as are compelling and fair reward packages. When it comes to share plans, both SIPs and SAYE were agreed to have their place in helping build employee loyalty and engagement.

For more:

  • Plenary 3: “Secret Sauce”. How Employee Experience is Pivotal in Balancing the Co Sec Stakeholder Trinity
  • Breakout 5: Global Plans - Designing for Success
  • Breakout 6: SIPs - How good can they be and can they challenge SAYE as the best way to share success and incentivise employees?

Technology: Expectations and risks increasing

Hot on the heels of the announcement that the iPhone X will feature biometrics, we discussed how customers and employees alike are calling for the technology to be used whenever and wherever it can, to make lives easier and more secure.

With 50% of all crimes now relating to fraud, we debated the impact of cyber security on businesses and how to mitigate the risks.  

For more:

  • Plenary 2: Disruptive Technology & Cyber Security

71% of attendees believe the biggest risk when it comes to cyber security is internal.

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  • Be Proactive. It will be those that make few or no changes that face the most intense scrutiny.
  • Look beyond your remit. Have continuous dialogue with people beyond your own team. Work across the evolving business to join up strategy and create momentum.
  • Think ahead. The need to address employee and cyber security issues is accelerating, as is the uptake of biometrics and AR.
  • Scenario plan. Work out the potential outcomes for your organisation, ideally with data, to make the best decisions you can.

The speakers’ slides referred to in this article are all available within the Equiniti event app. Alternatively, please email to request a copy.