This year has been one of challenges like no other, but in spite of this we have continued to achieve another year of growth, and our engagement scores for our employees have not only increased in the Best Companies survey, but have been very positive during the difficulties of the last few months of the year.
Our independence and free thinking approach has not only allowed us to reach landmark revenue but has also meant we have continued to invest in our people with over 1,330 now part of our story.
Our investment in technology has long been in line with our strategy to develop our capacity to deliver, but never has this been more important than this past year. Having embraced Smart Working, supported by fast IT solutions and cognisant of the work/life balance of our employees, we found ourselves well-equipped to deal with the pressures of both the Covid-19 global pandemic and the general increase we experienced in the need for client support.
Throughout the lockdown, our priority was to ensure our clients and pension scheme members received everything they needed from us so their focus could remain on their health and their loved ones. We managed to do this with no more than a few-hours transition time from largely office working to fully working remotely.
As an example, in the first week of lockdown, our Pension Administration team successfully ensured that over 161,000 pensioners received their payment as normal. In the following weeks, we saw an increase of 20% in retirements processed, and an increase of 15% in transfer payments made.
Achievements like this could not have been done without the great effort and enthusiasm of our people across the whole business, who persisted with both professionalism and unrelenting positivity.
Among them, 53 were promoted to Partner, Associate or Principal this year, and we continue to recruit a highly skilled and diverse selection of professionals to strengthen all our business areas. Most notably, our business development, risk advisory and investment areas have all welcomed experienced consultants into the team.
We are proudly committed to supporting young people in the work place and continued both our apprenticeship programme and graduate scheme during the year. Nationwide, we welcomed 27 graduates to our Actuarial, Insurance, Investment, and Insurance and Longevity Consulting practices. A further 32 have since been recruited to begin in our new financial year.
Meanwhile, 25 apprentices filled our annual intake, spread across our Pension Administration department and our IT department, representing a significant increase on the seven openings available in 2018.
Our development of these programmes saw us ranked among the top 30 for Medium-Sized Schemes by Rate My Placement, and shortlisted for the Best Apprentice positions by Rate My Apprentice.
In all, over 6,000 people applied to positions at Barnett Waddingham this year and we welcomed 280 new starters. Our underlying principle of doing the right thing saw us maintain commitment to local communities and to our ongoing corporate social investment (CSI) endeavours, particularly during the national lockdown when many social projects and charities were worst hit.
This year we raised over £24,700 to help our nominated charities of Marie Curie, Create, UK Youth, KickStart Money, Young Enterprise and Reengage, with the organisation matching donations by £15,800 and donating an additional £85,000. Our people also contributed 1,225 hours to volunteer projects (equivalent to 175 days support), ensuring that it is not just money that is provided, but all forms of support ranging from tea-parties for the elderly, relief shifts in foodbanks, advice on marketing campaigns and hosting events.
Like many forward-looking businesses, sustainability continues to be an important factor when considering how we work and what we can do to support our clients in the years ahead. From reducing the carbon footprint of our offices to challenging our procurement processes, we are committed to ensuring that longstanding sustainable practices are a priority. At the same time, we are engaging with clients about Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investment factors, helping them to identify investments with the potential to generate higher returns and mitigate risk over the long-term.
Among the achievements we are most proud of in the past year, being included in The Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work For – receiving a coveted ‘two-star’ status – has to be one of our most momentous. Despite continued growth, our focus on doing the right thing remains the foundation of how we treat our people and how we do business.
We have also been delighted to see individuals in Barnett Waddingham secure outstanding personal recognition, including Actuarial Post’s Actuary of the Year award and Pensions Age’s Personality of the Year. They say there is no ‘i’ in team but, for us, we have a lot of excellent diverse and engaged individuals who are all pulling together for the benefit of the BW team!
All of us have learnt a great deal this year – in terms of what we are capable of dealing with as a team, and as individuals. We are proud of what we have achieved and these lessons will continue to empower our strategic plans and the way we work, for the years ahead.
As I retire from the partnership later in 2020, David Stoddard joins the organisation as Barnett Waddingham’s new COO. I have no doubt he will continue to build on the momentum we have gathered, and help the firm create new ways of enriching the experience and value it provides to clients and its employees.