Financial planning firm puts money where its mouth is with four-day week

A forward-thinking financial planning firm has announced that it will move to a four-day working week for its employees in a bid to sustain productivity and protect the mental health and wellbeing of its staff.

UNIQ Family Wealth, which was founded in 2013 by industry heavyweight Marlene Outrim, and which is focused on helping clients to plan for and achieve a life well lived, will introduce the new scheduled from January 2022.

The firm’s offices in Cardiff, Abergavenny, London and Bristol will now close on a Friday in addition to the weekend, with the business introducing new systems and processes to ensure clients will not be affected by the shortened working week.

UNIQ Family Wealth founder and MD Marlene said the move follows consultation with staff and was driven by a desire to give employees additional time to spend with their families, as well as extra time to refresh and re-energise so that they can be more efficient during their working hours.

A former President of the IFP, now merged with the CISI, and a Financial Planner with over 30 years’ experience, Marlene is known as a pioneer for change within the community. 

An early adopter of financial planning and cashflow modelling and an advocate for financial planning for many years, she has also written a book titled Cascading Wealth, which is due to be published this month, which gives insight into how best to pass family wealth through the generations.

Commenting on the new four-day week UNIQ Managing Director, Marlene, said: “There were multiple motivations behind the introduction of a four-day week at UNIQ, but primarily it was about protecting the mental health and wellbeing of our team. I believe that even working a shorter week the team will be just as productive and effective, and as ever we will always strive to provide the best service for our clients.

“The financial services industry can be fast-paced and challenging, so it’s important that we take time out to look after ourselves and each other. When we consulted our staff about how best to achieve that balance this shift in our working pattern seemed obvious.”

The four-day working week model is already popular in many parts of Europe, including Iceland and France, with not-for-profit community 4 Day Week Global claiming that 78% of employees with four-day weeks are happier and less stressed.

The organisation also says that 63% of businesses found it easier to attract and retain talent with a four-day week.

Marlene added: “As a business we truly believe in family values, and that includes being supportive to one another. 

“The introduction of a four-day working week for the team is one of many employee benefits that we have embraced over the years, including our 12-week wellbeing programme provided by ‘Fresh Air Fridays’ which includes outdoor walks, mindfulness and mediation.

“All of these benefits help us attract, and more importantly, retain, the most talented people from across the Financial Services community.”

Despite the shorter working week, and a hybrid model which allows people to work from the office or elsewhere, Marlene says the business has no intention of moving to a fully remote working structure.

“Being together as a team on a regular basis is a very important part of how we work. It means we can check in, motivate each other and share best practice,” she added. 

“That said, if there is one thing the pandemic has taught us is that we can and should challenge ourselves to think and work differently. I wholeheartedly trust my team to put the best interests of our clients at the heart of all that they do. How, when and where they do that is down to them.”