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18 Nov 2022
by Mark Chadwick

How NatWest is aligning financial wellbeing with wider business goals

Mark Chadwick, people and transformation – reward and employment at NatWest, outlines how they are helping to build financial capability during the cost-of-living crisis

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NatWest’s financial wellbeing aims are about building our employees’ financial capability, confidence and their ability to manage money. We are quite clear that it is not about how much money people have, but how they are able to manage it. 

Most of our strategic focus, aims and goals have focused on retirement savings and helping people understand the importance of saving for the long term – and helping them to do so in the most painless way possible. But, obviously, the cost-of-living pressure means we have to think about what short-term support we can put in place. 

One of our short-term measures has been increasing employees’ base pay in the middle of the year outside the normal pay review cycle. However, after competitors announced a £1,000 cash payment to all employees, we were getting comments internally asking why we couldn’t do the same. We are giving people £1,000 a year, every year into the future, but it has been hard to communicate that the extra is in the form of monthly pay rises, drip fed through payroll, rather than as a one-off windfall. 

The cost-of-living pressures mean we have to think about the short-term support we can put in place, and we are taking steps to help our colleagues with this challenge. 

So, we are trying to walk a tightrope between our strategic aims, knowing that is the right thing for the long term, while recognising the short-term pressures that we need to accommodate. The answers are not necessarily resting solely on people’s pay. We still think it is important to help people understand how to manage their money in the short and long term but to do that in a way that doesn’t come across as insensitive. 

There can also be an assumption that if people work for a bank, they are good at managing money, which is not necessarily true. Also, in the past, getting into financial difficulties could affect your job in banking. That changed years ago, but it remains a potential barrier to meeting our wellbeing goals. 

Those past practices created a taboo in the organisation about financial difficulties, and, as a result, we have had to really break down the stigma of talking about money worries. The links between mental wellbeing and financial wellbeing are well documented, so we always bear in mind that financial wellbeing should be viewed through a mental wellbeing lens and vice versa.

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