Nick Martindale looks at how HSBC is helping its 40,000-strong UK workforce get to grips with their personal finances.
As a society we are not encouraged to talk about money, which can mean there is a reluctance to speak out when there is an issue, says HSBC senior financial wellbeing consultant Paul Stroud.
He's now been in his job for two years, and the financial wellbeing team has been in place for three. Its sole focus is to help HSBC's 40,000-strong UK workforce get to grips with their personal finances, and tackle any issues they may have.
"One of the things we make clear is that we don't offer advice as such, but we signpost people to where they can get advice," he says. "We help people find solutions and understand some of the basics of money."
The business delivers regular seminars and also offers one-to-one financial health checks, where employees can discuss their finances in confidence. "The main thing is having that conversation; if someone has a lot of debt then actually speaking about it can take the weight off their shoulders," says Stroud. In cases where people have serious problems the team pass them on to the debt charity StepChange, he adds, but another common conversation is around how best to approach withdrawing money ahead of retirement.
HSBC started the service when it realised large numbers of customers who had got into financial difficulty could have been helped had they been better informed, and sought to offer this service to its own staff. Today, it also offers the service to any organisation which banks with it, and goes into schools offering basic financial education to young people before they enter the world of work.
After a slow start, interest in the service has risen dramatically over the last 12 months. "In the beginning it was a case of finding people and convincing them to let us come and speak to either internal or external employees," he says. "But we do about 150 or 160 seminars a month now. The amount of people we speak to is staggering."