At Kleinwort Hambros our mission is to simplify life’s financial challenges, driven by our vision to become the leading responsible bank for client service and expertise. Actively embedding aspects of responsibility throughout our business is a fundamental part of our long-term strategy. Why do we think this is so key to our sustainable success? Our clients want it, our employees want it and society needs it, writes Rebecca Constable, director – head of Newbury office, head of philanthropy.
Simply breaking this down, our efforts in the field of responsibility are threefold: we seek to help our clients build responsible legacies, we encourage our colleagues to have a positive impact on our local communities and the business fosters an inclusive culture, championing talent from diverse backgrounds.
Our values are deeply rooted in the belief that investors can and should be able to engage with social and environmental themes. Our clients not only seek market-leading financial returns, but increasingly want to know how their money is being invested and what is the impact from an environmental, social and governance perspective. For some years the responsible investment movement has been driven by the large investors of pension funds, but private investors have a growing voice and companies are providing data to support these enquiries. Kleinwort Hambros is proud to be a signatory of the UN-supported Principles of Responsible Investment and a member of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association.
Covid-19 has driven clients to reappraise their priorities and re-evaluate the purpose of their wealth. This goes beyond financial returns and includes philanthropic endeavours – the giving of financial donations, time and expertise to support projects and causes that lack public funding in this time of great need. Our colleagues also have a renewed desire to support local communities, through skills-based volunteering programmes and fundraising efforts.
To cite the oft-repeated dictum, change comes from within, so what does being a responsible employer mean at Kleinwort Hambros? In short, we seek to provide an inclusive workplace where staff from diverse backgrounds can thrive.
The business case for diversity and inclusion is clear – it drives better decision making as different points of view are considered, boosts employee performance and even impacts revenue and profits. Moreover, an open and inclusive culture, in which people feel comfortable to bring their authentic self to work is essential to driving staff engagement.
Gender equality is a key focus within Kleinwort Hambros. As part of the Societe Generale Group we are a signatory of the Women in Finance Charter, which reflects our aspiration to see gender balance at all levels across the financial services industry. We recently launched the Kleinwort Hambros Gender Equality forum. By providing coaching and personal development workshops, the forum seeks to propel more female staff into leadership positions based on merit. Panel discussions aim to highlight intersectionality in the workplace and the forum also invites ‘gender allies’ to support and champion their female colleagues.
In recent years, Kleinwort Hambros has also pioneered a Career Returners Programme, aimed at private banking professionals who have had a career break of more than two years. Partnering with women returners, participants in this scheme benefited from structured training on how to build a professional identity, develop a sustainable work-life balance, improve self-confidence and networking skills.
Beyond our own organisation, we are a founding member of The WealthiHer Network, championing the transformation of our industry’s approach to female investors. Our shared mission is to empower women with the knowledge, trust and confidence they need to manage their wealth. In 2017, Kleinwort Hambros founded the Women in Business network for female professionals, including accountants, lawyers and mortgage brokers.
Last year, we launched our inaugural 22-month apprenticeship scheme, which aims to provide young people with an opportunity to upskill and access a career in private banking.
Having a diverse workforce and inclusive culture is essential to driving the success of Kleinwort Hambros and we recognise that we have more work to do. Our efforts in this field will bring innovation, ultimately driving our ability to be an agile and forward-looking organisation.