Yorkshire IFA on why it pays to have a diverse workforce

Yorkshire IFA on why it pays to have a diverse workforce

Yorkshire-based West Riding Personal Financial Solutions says it has achieved a "successful" practice where female staff can thrive, thanks to a proactive approach to flexible working and a view to social and gender diversity.

Neil Liversidge, principal of WRPFS, said since he founded the advice business in 2004, most of his hires have been women and all have come from outside the traditional Oxbridge-style, private-school system.

He said: "It wasn't planned that way; it just happened. And I hire on merit alone. Most have come from outside of financial services and all, like me, were state-educated. 

"When I hear business people boasting about how many people work 'for' them I always think they’re deluded. In reality everyone works for themselves. I never say that anyone works 'for me'. Our employees work with us.

"We’re all travelling on the same road to pretty similar destinations and we’ll get there faster and in better shape if we co-operate as fully as possible and try to make each other’s lives easier along the way."

He credited his approach to creating a flexible practice with witnessing, as a young child, his mother being given a flexible contract with a local tailoring magnate to enable her to raise her children and earn a living. 

Mr Liversidge said: "She worked until she retired, never missed a day and was always grateful for the flexibility she’d been shown. It was an early lesson to me - the employer-employee relationship is a two-way street in a lot more ways than the obvious one, whereby the employee exchanges time and work for pay."

According to him, WRPFS is as "informal and flexible as possible". He said this was a 'best practice' model that other advisory firms have asked to copy and adapt to their own businesses over the years, because being open has helped his own firm to thrive.

He said: "Anyone can ask us to make an adjustment to how we do things and if it’s reasonable then the chances are, we’ll do it. Why? Simply because we aim to get the best people possible.

"Pay is the most obvious benefit in any job and we’re very competitive in terms of salary, bonus and pension, but working for a small firm doesn’t suit everyone. To give us an edge, therefore we build-in the kind of working that makes employees’ lives more liveable.

"Modern life is stressful and people have to balance competing demands on their time and energy, so if we can alleviate that, we do. Where mothers need time out for their kids’ needs, we either let them work the time over lunch hours if it’s significant or we just let them leave early or get in a bit late occasionally."

He added sometimes he has driven his female staff to schools when there has been an urgent call-out, and allowed a member of staff with breast cancer to work from home if she was able, while keeping her on full pay and bonus.