This year, we focused our sustainability efforts on supporting the Group’s transformation to ensure the Group is able to achieve its strategic objectives and meet its responsibilities to all stakeholders. Our achievements this year build on the work undertaken last year to broaden our emphasise on sustainability, an umbrella term that encapsulates environmental, social and governance (ESG), climate change and a wide range of green financing and related greenhouse emissions reduction themes.
Our sustainability initiatives are anchored on the United Nations Global Compact (UN GC) and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) with a particular focus on those areas in which the Group’s operations are most impactful and which align most closely with our strategic objectives. Our commitment to ESG was further underlined by the increasing emphasis placed on wider sustainability matters at Board level, exemplified by the renaming of the Nomination and Governance Committee as the Nomination and ESG Committee during the year.
Below we have prioritised those matters that are material to our business and added corresponding commentary along with signalling that identifies which of the UN SDG these priorities cover.
Our sustainability focus is centred on those areas that have the greatest impact on our strategy. We believe that acting responsibly is key to delivering long-term success. It goes right to the heart of our values and culture as an organisation, covering both our own people and operations as well as the wider importance of safeguarding the environment to protect our planet. We are committed to building on the efforts outlined below to ensure that we continue to adopt best practices across the entire spectrum of our activities.
At FD Technologies we have always had a strong focus on our people, recognising that they provide the key to our success. We have adopted policies that enable the recruitment, development and retention of employees in an ethical and sustainable way and promoted values that support our strategy. Our people strategy is centred around health and mental wellbeing, future ways of working, inclusion and diversity, and is critical to attract, develop and retain the best talent. We ensure the views of our employees are taken into account and we remain conscious at all times of the need to ensure that we build on our strong record of employee engagement.
We have put inclusiveness and diversity at the heart of our people strategy by establishing clear priorities and targets:
Delivering on these matters means developing and executing policies that empower and develop our people, ensure we operate responsibly, safeguard data and act to protect the environment. These aims are baked into our operations through a range of policies that are set and monitored by the Board to ensure not just that we comply with the relevant legislation but that we go beyond that to assure all our stakeholders that we are acting with their long-term interests at heart. They also act to deliver our strategy and business model by mitigating risks such as attracting and retaining critical talent and as such are vital to the delivery of our business model.
Therefore, our priorities, based on the nature of our business, may be summarised around the high-level themes of Our People, Responsible Operations and the Environment. We also value our reputation as a good corporate citizen in the locations in which we operate and have a number of initiatives in place to provide charitable and community support.
FD Technologies is reliant on the skills and capabilities of its workforce and recruitment, development and retention are all critical to our ability to deliver for our clients today and drive growth in the future. Given its importance to delivering on our strategy, the Group has extensive policies and programmes covering:
Given the nature of our activities, people are vital to the success of our business. We are proud of our track record of attracting and retaining the best talent and of our industry-leading training and development programmes, both of which enable the Group to develop and deliver software and services that exceed the expectations of our clients. We continue to seek ways to improve our employee environment. Our annual employee engagement survey is designed to identify ways to increase our employee satisfaction and retention. We continue to use the results of the survey to further enhance our people strategy and the way we communicate with employees.
During the year Virginia Gambale was appointed Workforce Engagement Director for the Group. This is a Non-Executive Director position designated to represent employee views across the Group at Board level. The role of Workforce Engagement Director is an important position, overseeing how we engage with colleagues across the business and ultimately ensuring that the voice of employees is heard at Board level and taken into account during decision making.
We believe that our business practices in these areas support the following SDG:
Our recruitment team is tasked with attracting the best people. As well as an extensive engagement programme which encompasses more than 100 universities, we also have a successful employee referral programme which, together with our increasing brand awareness, led to circa 12,000 (2021: 9,791) people applying for a job with the Group during the year. From these applications, we selected 1,118 (2021: 424) people to commence employment with us during the year, of which 481 (2021: 291) were new employees at graduate level and 637 (2021: 277) were experienced hires. Our recruitment process for early careers includes screening, competency testing and interviews. Similarly, the process for experienced hires includes these three key steps with technical external testing and peer and senior reviews. The efforts of our recruitment team are critical in delivering the accelerated growth strategy outlined during the year. The level of recruitment set new records for the Group, but just as crucial is maintaining the academic standards, culture and values of the Group.
We equip our people with the right skills. During 2021 we invested further in our Learning and Development team, recruiting additional full-time resource and restructuring the team to support our operations across the business. We continued to expand our investment in external training during the past year, which included 100 (2021: 56) employees pursuing A Cloud Guru Training qualification. Specifically this relates to AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Certified Architect training. We had 40 employees (2021: 36) complete a machine learning qualification, while 336 employees (2021: 143) were studying for a risk management certification. We also have 12 employees completing a company supported Master’s in Capital Markets and 50 (2021: 30) employees completing a project management qualification. During the year we rolled out unconscious bias training to the entire Group and in addition we used an external training facilitator to provide in-depth awareness on unconscious bias to our recruitment team.
We provide an industry-recognised, two-year Capital Markets Training Programme (CMTP) primarily designed for, and focused on, our graduate intakes although many of those joining us as experienced hires have also benefited from the extensive knowledge base we have developed. During the year we had 380 (2021: 147) graduate hires enter the CMTP and a further 600 new experienced hire joiners benefiting from key Fintech training with our internal training team. In total these employees completed 66,800 (2021: 45,120) hours of internal training with FD Technologies managers and trainers. These same employees have also completed a total of 7,600 (2021: 3,525) internal training modules in the areas of finance, technology and consulting. In total we have invested £0.8m (2021: £0.5m) in training during the year.
We continue to partner with third parties to enhance our compliance training for all employees. We have financially supported the completion of 704 (2021: 341) external training certifications for employees in the areas of Risk Management, Compliance and KYC, Cloud technologies, Project Management, Business Analysis and other business key areas. Through our investment in the Thomson Reuters Regulation & Compliance platform our employees completed 33,000 (2021: 5,368) modules in total in GDPR, Information Security, Anti-Bribery & Corruption and other important compliance areas including our Code of Conduct and Ethics. We have also provided access to a LinkedIn Learning platform, accessible to all Group employees, which allows us to develop learning paths for various career streams in the business and also to assign individual learning courses to certain employees and employee groups. We have invested heavily in designing individual training pathways for employees and contractors to help them drive their own career trajectories and take responsibility for continuous professional development.
The learning and development function has been restructured and strengthened with full-time dedicated resources including a Head of Learning and Development; a General Technical Training Manager; a Finance Training Manager; a Kx Technology and Data Services Training Manager; and a Training Manager in cross-asset front-to-back solutions technologies such as Calypso. The team has developed and launched an interactive learning platform accessible to all employees from anywhere in the world and shares regular communications highlighting success, recommending initiatives and supporting the development of skills. We aspire to a culture of high performance in FD Technologies. To encourage all our employees, including those working on a contract basis to reach their potential, we have a number of initiatives to support their development. During the year, we continued to enhance the performance appraisal process with a focus on continuous dialogue and more regular interactions with colleagues. Alongside other strategic and structural initiatives, during the year we introduced a “People Manager” model across our business units.
This important initiative involved the roll out of professional and personal development training to equip 400 People Managers to support their teams and colleagues across the business. The model seeks to establish consistent engagement and people management practices across our business and ensures that every employee is allocated a People Manager who has defined roles and responsibilities around three core aspects:
We believe that the People Manager role will have a significant positive impact on how we engage with our employees and how we support their continued development and ability to contribute to the success of our business. Looking ahead, we aim to drive a range of training and development initiatives via People Managers continually enhancing their skill set and know how. This programme of development will support the drive for continued process improvements across the Group and will support employees in achieving their development goals
At FD Technologies we value effort and excellence and recognise that we have an exceptionally talented and diligent team, which cares passionately about the work it does and the service it provides to clients. Our reward system is intended to be competitive in the market to assist recruitment and retention and all employees benefit from healthcare, pension and life assurance as well as family-friendly policies to cover maternity, paternity and adoption pay. We also support employees through flexible working arrangements. The benefits package is designed to underpin our collegiate culture, and all benefits help support and care for employees and their families. During the past year we undertook an exercise to simplify all of our bonus schemes across the business. Our aim was to make the bonus scheme a simpler, more transparent tool to help us fairly reward performance and contribution whilst driving the type of behaviours required to ensure our continued success. The revision of the bonus schemes took place across the business and affected more than 1,000 employees who were able to exchange potential bonus payments for additional salary payments. For those remaining in the bonus scheme we redefined and aligned metrics for each individual business unit. We also introduced a Leadership Bonus Scheme which aligned the targets of everyone involved in a leadership or senior management position to a set of metrics to drive performance. These changes support our accelerated growth strategy and are in line with our pay for performance philosophy.
We care about the people who work for us. We have a 24-hour, 365-day employee assistance programme (EAP) in place for all employees and we provide complementary healthcare plans and private health insurance. We continue to improve our health and wellbeing strategy, with a particular focus on mental health including a Global Mental Health Signposting initiative through EAP detailing relevant external confidential support in each of our regions. We provide training on health and wellbeing topics to help build the knowledge of employees on salient matters. We support global awareness days such as International Women’s Day and Suicide Prevention, a calendar of events in locations globally which allowed employees to engage proactively in the programmes and our mental health awareness campaign entitled #MindMatters. During the past year the Group reviewed its practices to ensure it operates a modern workplace that delivers the best possible experience for our customers as well as safeguarding and supporting employees. This review was prompted by a combination of responding to COVID-19, evolving attitudes to remote working including the need for collaboration and development as well as flexibility on work/life balance. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our emphasis was on safeguarding, to the maximum possible extent, our colleagues while delivering the best possible experience for our customers. As we emerge from the pandemic, we consider that our response has fostered stronger bonds with our stakeholders. Our COVID-19 Response Team established in the first weeks of the pandemic in 2020 continues to meet regularly and guided the transition during the year from working at home to a hybrid arrangement which also involved return to the office within collaborative teams. We do not anticipate a future arrangement where employees will work 100% from home – we believe that the ability to collaborate and interact in person is a fundamental requirement for the professional development of individuals and the future success of our business. Our employees have demonstrated an ability to continue to deliver to customers whilst working remotely and following an internal survey during the year, 85% of colleagues (up from 69% in the prior year) indicated that they preferred to work flexibly with part of the week working from home and part from the office. We have adopted a hybrid approach whereby an individual will split their office and working from home time. Individuals will continue to be assigned to an office location and employees will be located within commuting distance to an FD Technologies office hub. During the year we undertook employee consultation around flexibility and the future modern workplace and are introducing and/or enhancing a range of policies to support our workforce. The scope of these consultations covered remote working, location options, working hours flexibility and career and personal development.
At FD Technologies we are proud of the diverse, inclusive and vibrant team that we have built. Our success to date has been built on bringing together high-performing teams of talent from across the globe to service our client base. We continue to diversify our business and create a culture of inclusion, mutual respect and equal opportunity which contributes to improved employee engagement and wellbeing and increases the quality of our service to clients. We know that when colleagues feel included and represented at work, they work better, feel better and deliver better outcomes for our business and our customers. We continue to embed networks across the Group that support multiple diverse groups:
An important pillar of our inclusion and diversity strategy and underpinning our networks is our focus on mentorship and allyship. In each of our networks we have an executive sponsor providing senior leader investment in each network and positive engagement and support from a range of allies who play an important role in supporting each of the networks in the pursuit of their aims and objectives. Having matured our employee engagement survey over the last three years and engaged with our networks to understand how we can continually improve, during the year we introduced diversity questions into our survey covering areas of gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, caring/parental responsibility and ethnicity in order to further build our baseline data on our diverse workforce, demonstrating the priority we place on diversity as well as being an important incremental step to build a more diverse and inclusive working environment.
In 2021 67% of colleagues across the Group completed our annual engagement survey. The engagement survey is a source of information to help us drive change, performance, personal satisfaction and business outcomes. Sustainable Engagement at 80% favourable is an important indicator for us highlighting that employees are engaged, enabled and energised. This is the third year of the survey so we now have comparative data which has highlighted some important themes. The two most improved categories over the last three years are Diversity & Inclusion and Senior Leadership. The two least improved categories over the last three years are Reward & Benefits and Work Organisation and Conditions. Whilst there are many positives to take from the Group results, we recognise there is still work to do around improving Performance Management, Reward & Benefits and Work/Life Balance. We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive working environment where everyone feels able to be themselves, so this year within the survey we captured additional data around the diversity of the team. Gathering additional data around diversity was an important step and will provide us with a baseline from which to monitor progress as well as promote discussion and make the changes needed to enhance the working environment for everyone’s benefit. The survey results continue to provide us with invaluable data to understand what employees value most in the workplace and inform our decision making. We believe that organisations with high levels of engagement consistently outperform those with lower engagement across both the short and long term. Employee engagement, therefore, remains a priority for the Group and is a key principle of our people strategy. Our engagement initiatives during the year included:
The Group takes seriously its responsibilities to operate ethically and responsibly and this commitment is demonstrated through a range of policies, with supporting governance in place as described below. We believe that our business practices in these areas support the following SDG:
The Group is committed to the highest standards of security and privacy and is conscious that these matters are of great importance to stakeholders such as employees, customers and partners. We regard the development and maintenance of privacy and security infrastructure as critical to promoting sustainable development of the industrialised world because it helps to promote individual wellbeing, supports equality, avoids discrimination, and empowers all genders through confidentiality of their information. Privacy and security are also essential to successful partnerships, which can then progress towards sustainable development through cooperation with confidence that shared information is managed safely. We believe that our business practices in these areas support the following SDG:
We work with many large organisations that manage sensitive and confidential data and as such our adherence to high levels of IT and cybersecurity is imperative.
To ensure compliance with best practices we have successfully certified to the UK Government-backed cybersecurity framework CyberEssentials and CyberEssentials Plus, testing our controls and procedures. Our controls, policies and procedures take a defence-in-depth and risk-based approach to secure access control, environmental controls, IT system architecture, remote access policies, multifactor authentication, single sign on, password protection policies, back-up policies, quality assurance, supply chain governance, change controls and system support. All employees undergo stringent pre-employment screening to ensure secure user onboarding and must then regularly complete IT security and awareness training to highlight the risks of a modern security climate. This informs users of the potential impact a cyber-attack could have, and the steps required to reduce the risk of cyber-crime infiltration and data exfiltration. Regular phishing campaigns are undertaken to understand user risk, while incident response exercises alongside penetration and vulnerability testing of environments ensures we remediate any platform, process or system risks. In addition to cybersecurity training, it is mandatory for each employee to complete the following courses: Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing, Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption, Discrimination & Harassment, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Group’s Global Code of Conduct
The Group takes seriously its responsibilities to operate ethically and responsibly and to ensure it has a range of policies in place, with further details provided below.
While we believe the Group’s risk of encountering human trafficking and modern slavery may be low in the industry we operate in relative to other industries, we are committed to acting ethically and with integrity in all our business relationships and our policy is designed to prevent any such practices occurring. We choose suppliers and contractors who we believe share our commitment. We comply with all applicable employment legislation and we invest heavily in the health and wellbeing of our employees and provide modern slavery awareness training for all employees.
The Group has policies and procedures in place to identify and protect against anti-bribery and anti-corruption risks in its business activities both internally and with third parties. All employees must participate in mandatory training courses in this area. The Group employs a mix of risk assessments, due diligence questionnaires and screening software tools with third parties in this area and has strengthened third-party supplier management during the year with the addition of an experienced Vice President of Procurement. In the event that any concerns are raised of inappropriate business practice related to bribery and corruption, there is an escalation process to senior management.
The Group has a whistleblowing policy that enables all employees to confidentially report matters of concern to an independent third party. No such matters arose during the year in question. The details of any such reports should they arise will be communicated to Non-Executive Directors.
The Group does not make charitable donations directly but actively encourages its staff to become involved in charitable pursuits. To co-ordinate these activities, it has established a charity policy with the aim of being a good neighbour in the communities in which it operates and to use the energies and talents of its employees in charitable fundraising activities. A team comprising employees from across the Group has been formed to co-ordinate these activities.
Employee-organised charitable events during the year raised more than £21,000 for more than 30 separate charities, with a further 15 charities supported globally through the donation of goods and services. Employees participated in volunteering activities including “green” community clean-up campaigns in New York and Newry. Investment in our youth has been continually supported via employees providing mentoring, careers advice and student seminars on careers in business, finance and technology.
In addition to fundraising events, the Group also encourages individual employees to contribute to charities of their choice through a payroll giving scheme under which donations are taken tax free from their monthly salary.
The Group also engages with its local communities by supporting initiatives to train and develop talent. Examples include support at both school and University level to assist developing business and technology skills and to shape curricula to ensure they are relevant to modern business requirements.
The Group takes its environmental responsibilities seriously and embeds them in its operating model. In this section, we provide further details on our policy and how its different business activities are having a positive impact on the environment in the following areas:
Our environmental policy details measures that we take to minimise our impact on the environment, while encouraging suppliers and customers to do the same. They include compliance with the letter and spirit of environmental regulations in the geographies in which we operate; continuous monitoring to improve our environmental performance; evaluating the environmental impact of business decisions; measures to reduce waste produced and recycle where possible; incorporating energy efficiency measures in our buildings to reduce electricity consumption; participation in initiatives such as Cycle to Work; employee training and awareness; and other ad hoc measures.
The strengths of KX technology are not just limited to its unrivalled performance and power, it is also incredibly efficient, enabling customers to reduce their total compute footprint while still benefiting from the world’s fastest streaming analytics platform. The International Energy Agency (IEA) report “Data Centres and Data Transmission Networks” in June 2020 reported that data centres alone accounted for 1% of the world’s electricity consumption. Our customers across industries typically use KX as an analytics platform to enable them to reduce waste and improve yield and for predictive maintenance. Not only is KX an enabler of environmentally friendly operations, in addition we have benchmarked ourselves as up to 50 times more efficient than competing streaming analytics technologies and have seen reductions in our customers’ electricity, cooling, space and hardware requirements in the range of 80-90% against our competitors. We are rightly proud of the undoubted environmental benefits that KX delivers through its energy and environmental efficiency and we have continued to focus efforts on ensuring KX remains the most efficient streaming analytics technology available.
Ahead of any detailed emissions analysis that the Group may make in the future, it is required to report its energy use and impact under the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regulations. During the year we focused our efforts on ensuring the environmental efficiency of our corporate real estate, particularly during the refurbishment and upgrade of our Newry office. In 2021 we have instigated enhancement of our data collection processes so we can publish a more comprehensive data set in relation to our environmental impact. In 2022, we will be setting out a clear and robust environmental strategy, including the targets by which our progress will be measured. Working with our internal sustainability team, the plan will involve a detailed audit of our material impacts and a way forward that reflects our growing business. For the year ended 28 February 2022 the UK energy used was 927,986 kWh (2021: 1,013,140 kWh). Using the UK government’s GHG Conversion Factors Guidance to calculate the quantity of emissions provides scope 2 emissions of 195 (2021: 257) tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, representing a 24% reduction in emissions over the prior year. The SECR regulations require a statement of relevant intensity ratios, which are an expression of the quantity of emissions in relation to a quantifiable factor of the business activity.
In this section we explain the Group’s support for charitable pursuits, particularly its encouragement and support for local initiatives in the communities in which it operates. This covers:
The Group actively encourages its employees to become involved in charitable pursuits, and gives matched donations related to employee charity raising as well as making its own direct charitable donations. To coordinate these activities, we have established a charity policy with the aim of being a good neighbour in the communities in which we operate and to use the energies and talents of our employees in charitable fundraising activities. A team comprising employees from across the Group has been formed to coordinate these activities. Employee-organised charitable events during the year raised more than £31,000 (2021: £24,000) for charitable organisations. The Group provided matched donations of £31,000 related to employee charity fund raising. Towards the end of the financial year the Group focused charity fundraising to support the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Employees also participated in a variety of volunteering activities. Investment in our youth has been continually supported via employees providing mentoring, careers advice and student seminars on careers in business, finance and technology.
In addition to fundraising events, the Group also encourages individual employees to contribute to charities of their choice through a payroll giving scheme under which donations are taken tax free from their monthly salary.
The Group also engages with its local communities by supporting initiatives to train and develop talent. Examples include support at both school and university level to assist developing business and technology skills and to shape curricula to ensure they are relevant to modern business requirements.