Given how much effort Schroders puts into taking care of its employees’ needs, it’s no surprise that the fund management firm picked up major accolades at the HR Excellence Awards 2019. One of the many awards was for Daniel Tam, Head of HR Schroders Singapore, who was honoured with the HR Leader of the Year award. Daniel runs a team of nine people within its Singapore HR function, who are continually assessing the needs of more than 400 employees.
He says: “The key is knowing what employees want, which is an on-going challenge. We have a diverse group of employees in the Singapore office, so we are always coming up with creative solutions.’’ But this is only one half of the equation in becoming a good HR leader. “You also need to know the business well, so you can tailor your solutions to meet the company’s needs,’’ he adds.
This attention to detail - making sure employees are looked after while being closely aligned with Schroders’ business objectives - sets Daniel apart from his counterparts. Nancy Lee, Head of HR, Asia Pacific at Schroders, was also honoured. Her Hong Kong Schroders HR team won an Excellence in Global and Local HR Strategies award at the HR Distinction Awards 2019. “The role of the HR leader is about motivating the team, and pushing them to do the best they can,’’ she adds.
One initiative Daniel is proud of is the internal hackathon where he led the winning idea of creating a chatbot for the HR function. “This opened people’s eyes up as they don’t always associate HR with technology. It was a great team effort to be able to come together in such a short time to think of a creative way to leverage technology in our work.’’ The chatbot is now in the final phase of testing and there are now plans to roll it out globally within Schroders.
Building digital talent
Across Asia, Schroders has a headcount of just under 1,000 people, with about 30 working in HR. When it comes to recruitment, Schroders describes itself as “going through a growth stage’’ and is constantly looking for people with digital and cognitive science skills, who are adaptable to machine learning and automation. The investment firm is automating many of its processes, such as its reporting function for clients. “We are proactively building talent, retraining staff and getting them ready for more automation by equipping them with digital and data skills ’’ adds Daniel.
The financial services industry, including asset managers, is facing digital disruption from fintech firms and needs to adapt to the evolving environment. Schroders intends to be one of the industry leaders when it comes to innovation. This ambition starts with its staff. “We are looking for people who want to be part of this digital transformation. We also want people who are curious about learning,’’ says Daniel. He calls Schroders “a forward thinking organization’’ as it equips employees with the digital skills needed for industry 4.0.
Schroders has also won awards, in both Singapore and Hong Kong, for its excellence in leadership development and learning & development. One group it is keen to nurture are the high potentials and leaders at various levels in the organization, who have pivotal roles within the organisation. For example, it has a programme called ASPIRE targeted at emerging leadership talent. This year, we also embarked on a new leadership program call Future Leaders Experience where employees nominate themselves for it. Through it, participants will gain insights into their strengths and areas to develop to be ready for future roles, whether as a technical expert or as a manager of people, and most importantly will enable a personalised career development conversation and plan.The programs are all designed to help develop leaders internally with the aim of navigatingthe changing landscape of the asset management industry.
“Schroders has also launched a brand new online learning platform, SPARK, to support in the development all its staff. It hosts a wide ranging curriculum spanning from technical to soft skills modules and in various medium including videos, Ted talks and e-book summaries.
Along with learning and development, Schroders also takes the well-being of its employees very seriously. For example, employees get a “Wellbeing Hour” off one Friday in a month to spend time focusing on themselves and their families. Its annual survey forms the basis of developing employee programmes, and the underlying aim is to find out what staff really want. “We get to see what the challenges are and how we can intervene. To ensure that we get more timely feedback, we’ve also created the Singapore Feedback Channel where employees can provide their ideas on how to make their workplace better, anytime, anywhere.’’.
Talking about emerging trends for human resources in 2020, technological advances will play a big part in what HR will look like in the future. “Technology will help us anticipate employee needs, which are constantly evolving. So we expect to see real-time solutions that HR will be able to leverage as part of this digital journey’’.
For Schroders, it expects its next generation of employees to share the direction of wanting the asset manager to be more purposeful and ethically-minded. “As a HR champion for our employees, we will need to show our CSR credentials and how we give back. With the new generation, we need to create a sense of belonging and think about the total experience for them,’’ says Nancy.