PRS to Develop Business in US

We are delighted to announce that Gerry Cappelli is joining the PRS team to lead the business in the US. Based in New York, Gerry has a wealth of experience across financial services firms. Together with her coaching and mediation expertise she will be a strong ambassador for PRS. Andrew Pullman, CEO, says “I am pleased that Gerry has joined the team. Having worked with her for over 9 years at Dresdner Kleinwort, I know that she will bring strong leadership to our activities in North America.”

Gerry is an experienced HR executive who is spearheading our initiative to grow our business in the US. She has worked for several leading global financial services firms in a senior leadership capacity. Her expertise includes employee relations, litigation risk management, talent acquisition, talent management, reductions in force, change management and company reorganisations. Gerry is certified as a Conversational Intelligence Coach, an Executive Coach and a Master Career Coach. She is also skilled in administering a number of assessment instruments as MBTI, TKI, ELI and SEIQ. In addition she is qualified as an Arbitrator, Community and Workplace Mediator.

Walking Through History: The City of London

PRS Team in Leadenhall Market

On Tuesday 30 October some members of the PRS Team were given a walking tour of the City of London by Sam Bailey from the City HR Association. Sam is a qualified Blue Badge Tour Guide. The tour concluded with drinks at the Brand Exchange in Birchin Lane.

The History of the City of London goes back over 2,000 years and our tour included tales of Charles Dickens, trading in coffee houses and the remains of a church which was taken brick by brick to the USA after being bombed in the Blitz.

Further events are planned for 2019.

The Final Frontier – a case study on coaching across cultures

executive coaching culture

Today we are featuring an article of interest by Ian Claffey about his coaching work in Mongolia. It is a fascinating look at the opportunities and challenges that working in a different culture presents, and the approaches required to meet them. Importantly, if you ever find yourself in this part of the world, Ian also provides a selection of top tips for doing business in Mongolia.

Coaching in Mongolia – The Final Frontier

Arriving at Chinggis Khaan International Airport on a cold winters day was always going to be a shock to the system, more so as I had left Thailand several hours earlier, which had been +38 degrees. I had known cold as a child in Glasgow, but this was different. Ulaanbaatar is one of the coldest capital cities in the world. It would be easy to think that an average 250 days of sun each year would bring warmth. However, temperatures range from -40°C in the winter to+40°C in the Gobi Desert in the summer.

My first contact with Mongolians was through their Embassy in London. I was invited to a function, and I was delighted to attend. It was there I was introduced to the leadership team from the Association for Development of Mongolian Women in Europe, (ADMWE) when they held a dinner to celebrate Mongolian Lunar New Year, ‘Tsagaan Sar’.

The (ADMWE) were planning their ‘Mongolian Woman of the Year’ awards to be held in Frankfurt. I thought I would show goodwill and offer to provide and pay for a leadership coaching programme for their fund-raising auction, not thinking they would ask me to attend the event in Germany.

coaching mongoliaMy coaching career has provided me with some interesting experiences over the years, including conflict mediation in Nigeria, team development on the Vaal River in South Africa, coaching Group Internal Audit Teams in Singapore, Tokyo, and Zurich, as well as supporting a Leadership Team, at Board level, in the mountains of Tuscany, none of which prepared me for being auctioned off to 150 Mongolians. At the auction the programme I provided was bid for by a CEO from a leading company in Ulaanbaatar, I was very happy the (ADMWE) made some money from the event. The proceeds from last year’s event provided a range of programmes for children in Mongolia. These included supporting girls to build confidence and leadership skills. Also, a strong boy’s initiative, helping to develop good interpersonal skills, along with providing 200 children with school bags and writing materials for the start of the new school year.

I have travelled extensively with my work in Asia, mostly in South East Asia, but arriving in Mongolia was like entering a new world. The more I got to know the people, the more I liked them. I read about their history, values, beliefs, and culture. I also noticed they are fiercely proud and have a unique presence – a quiet strength.

My professional career has been built, in part, trying to understand different cultures, to provide solutions for the clients, and organisations I work with, who are operating in new cultures, and who are often facing cross-cultural challenges or conflict.
In my experience, having empathic understanding is key to getting the best out of people when arriving in a new country. Depending on which part of the world a direct approach may also be needed. To be too inclusive may be seen as a weakness in some countries. I was interested to see what might work best in Ulaanbaatar.

One of the largest opportunities and cultural challenges facing Mongolia is the Oyu Tolgoi mine. The mine was given its name from the turquoise-coloured copper ore found in the Gobi Desert. Mongolia has an abundance of natural resources including coal, copper, gold, uranium, and rare earth minerals. This has made it a very attractive destination for international organisations. I suspect that doing business with international organisations, without losing their identity, will remain high on the agenda for Mongolians.

Mongolia joined the free market in 1990, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was followed by the introduction of a multi-party system and a market economy.

coaching UlaanbaatarOne of the few countries in the world not to have embraced executive coaching, I was keen to look at how coaching could work in Mongolia. I wanted to make sure it was set at international standard. When in Bangkok, I met with the Regional Director from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) for Asia to explore how we could ensure quality. We are now looking at getting an (ICF) Chapter set up in Ulaanbaatar.

Resource-rich in copper, gold and coal, Mongolia is in a very strong position to make the most from its natural wealth, in particular, Oyu Tolgoi mine and other mining projects. Strong leadership and direction from the MPP, The Mongolians Peoples Party, along with investment by the IMF, the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and input from China, Japan and South Korea will make it possible for Mongolians to reap the rewards.

Taking a corporate approach, with a long-term view of creating robust senior leaders, is where coaching can help. Developing local ‘talent’ will, in my opinion, facilitate better relationships when dealing with multiple stakeholders from a range of different countries, levels and disciplines. Building a goal-setting and solution-focused mindset, based on the ability to both give and receive constructive feedback, is critical when developing strong leaders.

I have put together a list of tips for doing business in Mongolia:

• Mongolians are very hospitable people. Try to accept any food or drink you are offered, even if you only take a little. They can be offended if you refuse. Having said that horse milk is an acquired taste!
• Accepting with two hands is the way things are done, the right hand supports the other at the wrist or elbow.
• Respect for elders is shown by greeting them first, try not to walk in front of an older person, this is seen as sign of rudeness.
• As you enter the meeting room, it is normal that your host will indicate when you are to sit.
• Your host may be late, this is part cultural and part Ulaanbaatar traffic. It is not meant to be disrespectful.
• Legal and business documents may be viewed as work in progress, rather than the finished item. A flexible mindset may be required from time to time.
• Giving or exchanging small gifts is often seen as part of the relationship building stage and a nice experience.
• The exchange of inexpensive gifts may also take place on the signing of contracts or agreements.
• It is sometimes customary to toast with a shot of vodka, be careful if you are offered Chinggis Khaan ‘Gold Label’ vodka, it is 39% Alc. Vol.
• My final tip and one that works in most countries is to behave as you would if you were a guest in someone’s home. This one has never let me down.

Ian Claffey MA – Executive Coach, APECS Acc, NCP Acc, MAC

Serious Play on Associate Day

How the pieces fit together

Team building or should it be team, building? The People Risk Solutions Associate Away Day took place on Friday at Eight Members club, Bank. As a virtual company, days like this are a vital opportunity for associates to meet in real life, welcome new faces and take a look at the business as a whole. This day was made more unusual by the large piles of LEGO bricks awaiting the associates.

We were taking part in a dynamic workshop method created by the LEGO Foundation and delivered by Shaun Jones of Prototipe. The workshop is designed to help teams collaborate, think creatively and manage change through building real-time solutions. Participants are empowered to think differently and create innovative solutions to the complex challenges their organisations face everyday.

PRS associates specialise in a wide variety of areas, across the timescale of careers – from graduate recruitment to career transition and outplacement, including HR support, management effectiveness, compliance issues, employee mental health support, and reward. Using LEGO bricks and models as metaphors was an ideal way for specialists from diverse, distinct yet connected disciplines to communicate a company wide vision for the future.

Aesthetics and functionality were not (necessarily) the order of the day. More important was the meaning of the models and the ideas behind them. Using bricks as a tool to express meaning, we were able to gain considerable insight into each others’ specialisms, better understand how the pieces fit together, and create a plan to move forward in a way that will best serve our clients.

Expect to hear more about our plans for the future shortly. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us if you require support in any area connected with people risk.

Some of our creative efforts from the day:

When People Risk Costs £150m

People Risk BA IT
If you want to understand People Risk, take a look at the recent case of British Airways’ £150,000,000 system failure. People Risk is the potential cost and harm that can befall a business when its people make poor decisions. It’s not always obvious how the actions of individuals within a company affect the business as a whole. However, every so often, an example like BA comes along which makes People Risk starkly clear.

The £150m outage is believed to be the result of a single operator’s error. The event is classed as a system failure and, indeed, the IT system did fail. We underestimate systems. It is easy to blame unfortunate events on faulty systems, malfunctioning technology or flawed processes. However, what causes systems to fail? Quite often the root cause is people – in BA’s case, a person.

Security experts maintain that the human element is always the weakest link in the systems they design. High level data security and encryption is most easily undermined by the executive who leaves their laptop on the train or who sets their password to ‘123456789’ or ‘password01’. The BA IT system had its own backup to switch to in case of failure. A likely cause posited for the total shutdown is that someone manually interrupted this automatic switchover sequence, flooding the servers with double the normal voltage.

The BA story is an extreme example. Flights grounded worldwide and thousands of stranded passengers are big news stories. Such large scale errors may not be common, but they do bring questions about People Risk to the fore. How many smaller, unreported People Risk events are taking place on a daily basis? What preventable costs are businesses unknowingly incurring from individual errors and decisions? What is the level of People Risk within your own business?

People may often be the weakest link but that does not mean that they’re inherently flawed. People need to be invested in to the same extent as systems they operate or are a part of. BA had invested in Uninterruptible Power Supplies which have the capability to maintain the current after a mains failure with battery power whilst backup generators automatically spool up and take over. What was potentially missing was an engineer with the competence and confidence to know this, to remain calm and not to manually intervene during the spooling up period.

Reducing your People Risk involves making the most out of your people. People don’t have a backup setting that can spool up in the event of a failure; they need to get things right in the moment. Training, development or coaching your people enables them to make the right decisions at the right time and ensures that your business is as cost effective as possible. As the systems around people grow ever more complex and the stakes of failure rise, reducing your People Risk is more important than ever.

If you would like to have a conversation about People Risk, you can contact PRS here

Or, take a look at our HR Healthcheck:
You probably already make a substantial investment in your people. The People Risk Solutions HR Healthcheck has been designed to help you protect that investment and give you a fixed cost, highly professional, rigorous and independent overview of your people risks. Read more here…

The Senior Managers Regime – The Future

Senior Managers Regime 2018

Will your business be affected?

The Senior Managers Regime is due to be extended in 2018. After its initial introduction to the senior staff at banks and insurance companies in 2016, the Regime was extended this March and the new conduct rules applied to almost all staff. Next year, asset managers, financial advisers, stock brokers and others will also be affected. As change rolls on, what can we learn from the past year that will help reduce risk and raise management effectiveness?

A crucial lesson for those due to be affected in 2018 is to act fast. There was a degree of last-minute panic as this year’s deadline approached. In an interview given to Financial News on the readiness of the City’s banks, Allen & Overy’s Sarah Henchoz remarked that it was “incredible how many of them are still asking a lot of quite basic questions about what’s required of them”. A sizeable amount of information is required and compiling the individual references is a substantial HR undertaking.

Do you have a system in place?

It is linking the certification process to existing Human Resources systems which banks and insurers have found most challenging. Certification verification and performance management are two different fields, yet this method is preferable – especially as individuals records need to be maintained for six years, despite staff turnover and employees leaving the firm.

The creation of individual records has therefore not been without issue. In a statement this March, the FCA reported that:

“In some cases, we have seen evidence of overlapping or unclear allocation of responsibilities… In other cases, firms appear to be sharing responsibility amongst some staff at different levels of management, obscuring who is genuinely responsible”.

It is not clear whether this obscuring has occurred intentionally or due to the complexity of the task, but the FCA are clear that a culture of individual accountability needs to be established and the lesson for those who will be required to join this culture next year is to be as precise as possible.

Are your people ready?

A crucial feature of the Senior Managers Regime – and the area where People Risk Solutions has provided the most assistance in the past year – has been the adoption of the Conduct Rules. Over the past year, Senior Managers and certified persons have not only had to abide by these rules but ensure that their team was ready to do so as well by the 7th March 2017.

The conduct rules are designed to set a minimum standard of behaviour and ensure that staff always act with integrity. In order to meet these demands, staff have needed to familiarise themselves with the Compliance rules specific to their business and to focus on day to day issues like data sharing and personal share dealing.

If your business or organisation will fall under the Senior Managers Regime in 2018 you need to be putting systems in place, preparing your people and reducing the risk of breaching rules and triggering regulatory sanctions. Using the experience we have gained helping banking and financial firms through this change, PRS offers bespoke workshops and practical HR support that will allow your staff to fully understand the Conduct Rules and experience real life case study scenarios of the Regime in action. To avoid a panic when the deadline nears and to ensure you and your people are fully prepared, contact PRS today.

The Senior Managers Regime in 2018

senior managers regime 2018

A New World

From 2018, the Conduct Rules laid out in the Senior Managers Regime will apply to all financial institutions – we are expecting further details in June 2017. This is an expansion of the current regime for the banks and insurance companies to whom it has previously, and currently, applies. The introduction of a culture of individual responsibility is a significant change and it presents a major challenge to the businesses it will affect.

When the responsibility is placed on people, businesses need to ensure that their people are informed and involved, or they run the risk of breaching rules and triggering disciplinary and regulatory sanctions. For Senior Managers, it is vital that the people they manage get to grips with the new rules by providing practical training and introducing systems and processes to help manage the process.

Providing a Guide

As the SMR was introduced throughout the banking and insurance industries, People Risk Solutions has run workshops on Culture, Values and Regulation designed to integrate the new regime into affected businesses and organisations. These interactive and case study driven sessions are now adapted and open to any business whose people will require familiarity with the conduct rules.

At the heart of the new culture are the core 5 rules themselves, which are as follows:

• Rule 1: You must act with integrity
• Rule 2: You must act with due skill, care and diligence
• Rule 3: You must be open and cooperative with the FCA, the PRA and other regulators
• Rule 4: You must pay due regard to the interests of customers and treat them fairly
• Rule 5: You must observe proper standards of market conduct

In order to fully understand the rules and the manner in which they are to be applied to everyday work, our workshops provide an overview, not just explaining what the accountability regime is, but why this is happening and what the intended purpose is. We then use a series of scenarios to bring the rules to life for everyday work.
From a broad examination of the regime, participants are then able to identify the key features of the required culture and, crucially, how these differ from the past.

Bespoke Direction

Rules are a framework designed to be rigid and intransigent. However, the businesses and organisations they are to be adopted by will be varied, with subtle and important operational differences. This is why each workshop addresses how the new regime will work at your organisation – working with Senior Managers to create a compliant system which will uphold the values and purpose of the rules within a familiar framework.

To test these systems and ensure that participants are able to apply the rules in the real situations they will be facing, a series of scenarios has been developed – each drawn from real-life case studies. The ultimate aim is for delegates to use the understanding and experience of the session to create personalised action plans they can immediately implement when they return to their work.
The FCA has stated that their extended regime will be ‘clear, simple and proportionate’. The complexity comes with the integration of these clear rules into complex organisations. Using our experience gained providing assistance to the banking and insurance industries during 2016 and 2017, People Risk Solutions will be on hand to provide the training and HR support your business requires.

To find out more, contact us

The Senior Managers Regime – One Year On


The introduction of new rules and responsibilities for banks and insurance companies is a process. Today, we find ourselves in the middle of this process. Now is therefore an apt time to look at the past, the present and the future – how has it worked so far for those affected, what does it mean for your people today and what changes are still to come that you need to prepare them for?

A New Culture

The measures introduced by the FCA in response to the 2013 Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards began with the Senior Managers Regime which was implemented in March 2016, have continued with the Certification Regime this March and will be extended next year to include financial institutions beyond banks and insurance companies.

As this new era of personal culpability develops, People Risk Solutions has been providing help and support to organisations and their people as they get to grips with the regime. As the SMR is extended, we have been helping our clients to establish systems and run practical training workshops which will ensure their people can adapt as the changes filter through.

Conduct Rules

Certified Persons now need to be certified as fit, proper and competent by the firm, rather than by the FCA or the PRA, as in the past. It is the responsibility of the company to come up with a process to certify all those who were previously Approved Persons, and are now Certified Persons. Part of the regime means that senior managers and certified persons have to adhere to the five conduct rules as follows:

Rule 1: You must act with integrity
Rule 2: You must act with due skill, care and diligence
Rule 3: You must be open and cooperative with the FCA, the PRA and other regulators
Rule 4: You must pay due regard to the interests of customers and treat them fairly
Rule 5: You must observe proper standards of market conduct

These rules should be familiar, but now a much stronger emphasis is placed on adherence to them. Additionally, Senior Managers have four extra rules applicable to them as well:

SM1: You must take reasonable steps to ensure that the business of the firm for which you are responsible is controlled effectively
SM2: You must take reasonable steps to ensure that the business of the firm for which you are responsible complies with the relevant requirements and standards of the regulatory system
SM3: You must take reasonable steps to ensure that any delegation of your responsibilities is to an appropriate person and that you oversee this effectively
SM4: You must disclose appropriately any information of which the FCA or PRA would reasonably expect notice

With the broadening of the regime, we have been able to expand our workshops introducing these new rules and associated features beyond just Certified Persons to all staff within a firm. This has helped clients reduce the risk of junior staff getting caught out, breaching these rules and incurring disciplinary and regulatory sanctions.


Reception to the SMR has been broadly positive, which is important given that this process is ongoing and will continue to expand next year. In a Duff & Phelps survey 55% of those polled believed that the new measures had produced a positive effect. Only 15% believed there had been a negative impact.

The 30% of undecided persons have good reason to be withholding judgement. One year on, the FCA are yet announce their first investigation under the SMR and the potential issues are still only hypothetical.

Though the changes should make it easier to identify an individual to be held responsible in the event of an investigation, will a Senior Manager – with his or her reputation and livelihood at stake – fight and resist an investigation with more vigour than a firm, which might be more inclined to settle as quickly as possible in order to return to business?

There are still unknowns and much of the response to the SMR is largely hypothetical. However, with no immediate backlash against the changes or signs of a course change, it is crucial that banks and insurance companies continue to ensure their staff adhere to the rules. With the inclusion of all financial institutions into the regime next year our workshops will continue to run, helping businesses to inform their people and reduce risk.

To find out more about how the SMR could affect you or to arrange training for your staff contact PRS here

Celebrating 10 Years of Client Focussed Excellence of People

Always keep focussed on where you are going but, on occasion, take the time to appreciate where you’ve been.

At People Risk Solutions we marked our 10 year anniversary this September at the Vintners’ Hall.  A Human Resources event wouldn’t be complete without humans and so the hall was filled with our invited guests: Clients, associates and friends of the business.

Managing Director Andrew Pullman gave the gathered crowd a brief history of PRS – from the long term working relationships with the Vintners Livery Company and overseas work in the US, France and Geneva to how the name of People Risk Solutions first came about in a Spa Swimming Pool, ten years ago.

Over that time, Andrew has grown PRS into a team of over 35 highly qualified professional associates, helped numerous clients to implement pragmatic solutions and this decade of success has culminated in the business’ best financial performance to date.

Wine flowed, canapes were served and the band of the Honourable Artillery Company played; but now that the party is over our eyes are firmly on the future.  We’re building on that past success and looking forward.  We are embarking on fresh journeys with old and new clients and one of the latest steps has been the creation of our new website.

Take some time to look around.  Find out more about PRS and how we could support your business.  Explore the services we provide for large and small businesses and, if there is a people solution that you feel you need, please contact us.

All photos by Guy Bell