Simplyhealth's engaging employees through health and wellbeing report


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Over the years, a lot of research has been conducted on the subject of employee engagement. Although health and wellbeing is only one factor in engagement, it is clearly relevant, both in direct terms through reduced absenteeism, and indirectly via supporting enhanced discretionary effort through generating a feeling of being valued. So what does this new research by Simplyhealth say?

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Simplyhealth's engaging employees through health and wellbeing report

  1. 1. Simplyhealth’sengaging employeesthrough health andwellbeing report
  2. 2. Foreword Nick Kemsley is Co Director of the Centre for HR Excellence at the Henley Business School. Nick has had a successful corporate career across six sectors, and has led strategic HR and Organisational Development functions in three global businesses. After working within a number of world renowned organisations including Mars, Prudential and Rolls Royce, Nick joined the Henley Business School to focus on the development of HR capability across the industry. He now helps local, international and global organisations to deal with a variety of people and organisational issues.Over the years, a lot of research has been conducted on 1. Around a third of employees do not feel at all valuedthe subject of employee engagement. The cumulative or valued very much. This is worse in the public sectorfindings are broadly as follows: The high percentage here is a real concern when1. Undeniable proof that high engagement directly drives businesses are increasingly relying on employee superior financial performance in business has yet to be discretionary effort and loyalty to help them through hard found. Interestingly, it is clear that business success can times. Of course it is a bit of a vicious circle, with the need make it easier to generate higher levels of engagement. for often drastic cost management impacting headcount However, links between high engagement and and the money that a business can afford to spend on its improvements in absenteeism, discretionary effort and employees. employee retention do exist, so there is a correlation with productivity 2. Employees feel that there is less focus on health and wellbeing than a year ago, but employers disagree2. Engagement is not a ‘one size fits all’ exercise, and different people have different ‘levers’ which enable or Volume of work and a change in the way that employers disenable engagement. These include financial, social, are managing health and wellbeing issues appear to be key product, reputational and work life factors factors impacting employees’ views. As structures become ever leaner, and expensive external recruitment is deferred,3. A key factor in engagement is the psychological employees have more work to do. One thing which most contract that an employee has with an organisation, of business recognises is that we are good at taking out and within this the sense of feeling worthwhile and the people, but not the work. Looking at the results, could valued is vital a rebalancing by employers from more financial to nonAlthough health and wellbeing is only one factor in financial vehicles for supporting health and wellbeing beengagement, it is clearly relevant, both in direct terms behind this difference in views?through reduced absenteeism, and indirectly via supporting 3. The impression that an employer gives aroundenhanced discretionary effort through generating a feeling the degree to which they care about their health andof being valued. So what does this new research by wellbeing appears significantSimplyhealth say? For me there are three key headlinefindings: The importance that employees place on benefits like private medical insurance, dental plans, healthy eating and cycle to work schemes etc is clear, and the symbolic nature of disinvestment appears to land badly with employees.2
  3. 3. ContentsIntroduction 4The changing face of employment 5How important is health and wellbeing in the workplace? 6The public and private sector divide 7Physical, emotional and financial health and wellbeing engagement tools 8Going the extra mile 10Measuring employee engagement 11Conclusion 12What we do for our people 13About Simplyhealth 14About our research 14 3
  4. 4. Introduction Employee engagement is vital for any organisation. If employees don’t connect with the values of an organisation, appreciate the contribution they can make, or do not feel that their employer cares or values them; they will not feel committed to the organisation or motivated to Em l th perform well. oti ea Employee engagement is a vast subject and can take lh on many forms. The Institute of Employment Studies defines ica al it as: “A positive attitude held by the employee towards he ys the organisation and its values. An engaged employee is a Ph lth aware of the business context, and works with colleagues to improve performance within the job for the benefit of the organisation. The organisation must work to develop and nurture engagement, which requires a two way relationship Financial health between employee and employer.” For the purposes of this research we have focused on the The research exposes some stark contrasts between the impact that health and wellbeing has on this area. There are views of employers and employees. At the same time it three aspects of health and wellbeing that work alongside provides evidence to show that employees who feel their each other to contribute to employee engagement; health and wellbeing is being looked after are more likely to physical, emotional and financial. We believe that remain loyal, engaged and productive. employers who address all three aspects could improve the engagement levels and ultimately the productivity of their We collected the responses of 1,005 workers, 504 people. This study looks to address this and evaluate the Managing Directors, Human Resources Directors, Divisional true value that taking care of employee health and wellbeing and Company Directors and 204 Finance Directors using has on motivation, loyalty and productivity. an online fieldwork methodology. More details of our methodology can be found at the end of this report.4
  5. 5. The changing face of employmentWhile the UK officially emerged from recession in Despite these pressures, 36% of employers say theythe autumn of 2009, rising inflation, higher VAT and actually care more about employee health and wellbeingGovernment cuts have all put pressure on companies and than they did a year ago. This is far higher than the 11% ofemployees. Our report has found that workloads have employees who believe this to be the case. Employers citeincreased for many employees, who often have to work the following reasons for this improvement:longer and cover more ground. This is having an impact on • 51% say they care more about employees as individualstheir perceptions of health and wellbeing. by praising them and giving them recognition • 49% have given line managers the skills and training18% of employees feel the situation at their work has they need to improve employee health and wellbeingchanged for the worse and their employer now cares lessabout their health and wellbeing than they did a year ago. • 45% say health and wellbeing is fully considered whenMore than half (51%), say this is because their workloads allocating, or increasing workloadshave increased. 42% cite a change in how absence is • 36% say more focus is put on helping people back tomanaged, saying that employers no longer help workers workback to work if they are ill or absent. This shows the effectlong term absence can have on colleagues, who have to This shows that employers do not always have to focustake on extra duties. on specific health benefits. Instead taking the time to think about the overall health and wellbeing of employees, andThe proportion of workers who feel that there has been a recognising the impact of increased work loads or the neednegative change is broadly in keeping with what employers for recognition can have an impact.feel. 16% admit that they do now care less. This rises to24% of Managing Directors and HR Directors, who areoften closer to the health and wellbeing strategy, and dips 16% of employers say they care lessto 13% for Finance Directors. about health and wellbeing, while 36% say they actually care moreEmployers are open about the pressures their companiescurrently face:• 56% say they have less time to focus on caring for the It’s clear that employees and employers are aware that individual the workplace is a very different place than it was before the recession. Issues such as stress, lack of recognition• 34% say they’re less able to help workers if they’re and reduced management visibility can all contribute to absent or ill employees feeling less motivated and valued. This can have• 26% admit that the amount of work expected from a negative impact on their loyalty towards the organisation employees has grown without due consideration into and their productivity. However, introducing a recognition the potential impact on their health and wellbeing scheme or equipping leaders with the skills they need to• 23% say they’ve removed health benefits in the past care for the health and wellbeing for their teams are small, year affordable changes that can make a positive difference. 5
  6. 6. How important is health and wellbeing in the workplace? Our research paints a mixed picture about how important Health and wellbeing also has a direct impact on the loyalty health and wellbeing is in the workplace. Employers are employees feel towards their employer. 75% of those much more likely to say they care about it, while often who feel that their employer cares a great deal about it employees do not believe this is the case. describe themselves as very loyal, which is a key indicator of employee engagement. As with most relationships, Attitude towards health the employer’s relationship with the employee relies on Employee Employer and wellbeing in the a sense of mutual respect and trust to be successful. view view workplace Demonstrating to employees that they care about their wellbeing is a key way for employers to show staff that they Employer does not care about it at all 10% 4% are valued. Employer doesn’t care about it very much 25% 5% 36% of employees say that their Employer cares but not emotional and physical health and consistently 33% 25% wellbeing is most important to them Employer cares about employee health and 22% 36% In contrast just 3% of employees describe themselves wellbeing as loyal when they feel that their employer doesn’t care Employer cares about about their health and wellbeing. Three out of ten of employee health and 10% 30% these employees said they were actively looking for work wellbeing a great deal elsewhere, a number seven times higher than those who do feel their employer cares about it. As well as showing If, in total, 91% of employers do care about health and the very clear role health and wellbeing plays in achieving wellbeing then they are failing to demonstrate this effectively employee engagement, this shows the cost of failing to employees. This could be having a negative impact to take health seriously. There’s a real danger of losing as more than a third of employees (36%) say that their talented staff if employers overlook it. 16% of employees emotional and physical health and wellbeing is most also say they would put more effort in at work if they important to them at work. That’s more than those who feel thought their employer took more interest in their wellbeing. career progression opportunities are most important (30%).6
  7. 7. The public and private sector divideThe public sector is under immense strain as the Lower levels of engagement in the public sector have alsoGovernment seeks to make major cuts to public services resulted in fewer employees being willing to go the extrato tackle the budget deficit. Our research has highlighted mile for their employer. 12% of public sector workers saystark differences between the public and private sector. they go the extra mile all the time compared to 18% of26% of public sector workers feel that their employer cares private sector workers. Public sector workers are also moreless about health and wellbeing now compared to a year likely to say they ‘never’ go the extra mile - 5% comparedago (13% more than private sector workers). This view is to 3%.supported by public sector employers as 27% admit thatthey care less, suggesting the major cuts in the publicpurse are impacting on their ability to deliver an effective Private sector workers are twice ashealth and wellbeing strategy. likely to say their employer cares a great deal about their health andPrivate sector workers are twice as likely to say their wellbeing compared to public sectoremployer cares a great deal about their health andwellbeing compared to public sector workers (13% to 6%).This appears to be having an impact on levels of employee It seems that it is difficult for public sector employersengagement. Public sector workers are much more to justify investment in health benefits when such deeplikely not to feel valued compared to their private sector cuts are being made. However, an unmotivated and lesscounterparts; 40% do not feel valued at all or very much, productive workforce can also have an extremely negativecompared to 26% in the private sector. This is perhaps impact on the ability of employers to deliver and meetunsurprising given the pressure on the public sector. objectives. Physical, emotional and financial benefits could help staff cope with any additional stress they are under, which can have a direct impact on their engagement levels. Not all benefits have to cost money though, for instance starting a swap shop can help employees financially in a small way and also help them engage and interact with colleagues at work. 7
  8. 8. Physical, emotional and financial health and wellbeing engagement tools Engaged employees are more likely to act as organisational advocates and can play a powerful role in promoting their organisation as an employer of choice. CIPD Employee Engagement factsheet, revised July 2010Physical health and wellbeing43% of employees do not feel their employer does anything If employers are providing as much as they say they are,to look after their physical health at work. This rises to more they are failing to communicate tools and tactics effectivelythan 55% in the retail and catering, and travel and transport to employees. These differences in opinion could meansectors. There’s also a marked difference in the responses that employees are not accessing important health andof skilled and unskilled workers. 64% of unskilled manual wellbeing benefits, and employers are not getting valueworkers say their employer does nothing, compared to just from their investment.26% of graduate entry level employees.14% of employers agree that they do not do anything, and 74% of workers who feel theirthese differences are highlighted when asked about specific employer does not care about theirbenefits. health and wellbeing say there are no health related benefits in place What is done to aid Employee Employer physical health and view view wellbeing? Employees who recognise that they have some kind of health related benefits in place are markedly more likely to Encourage staff to eat healthily 12% 30% feel their employer cares about them than those who do not. 74% of workers who say their employer does not care Actively discourage ‘over about their health and wellbeing say there are no health work’ 9% 35% related benefits in place. Provide specific health benefits 16% 30% Encourage exercise or weight management classes 8% 30% Encourage preventative health initiatives eg flu jabs 14% 15% Access to subsidised canteen 14% 25% Health focused benefits eg gym membership, private 12% 22% medical insurance Provide free fruit 7% 20% Initiatives such as cycle to work schemes 13% 18%8
  9. 9. Emotional health and wellbeing Financial health and wellbeingThe differences in opinion continue when it comes to Financial wellbeing appears to be at the bottom ofemotional health and wellbeing. 47% of UK employees employers’ priorities, as almost two thirds of UK workersdo not feel their employer does anything to look after (62%) say their employer does nothing to help them withtheir emotional health, compared to 13% of employers their financial health and wellbeing. This is drasticallywho admit this is the case. However, in many cases the different from the view of employers, with less than 2%employer also seems to recognise that the minimum is saying they do nothing to care for their employees’ financialbeing provided in this area. health. What is done to aid It could be argued that employees’ wages contribute to Employee Employer their financial health, however when compared to physical emotional health and view view and emotional benefits, the number of employers providing wellbeing? other financial benefits is lower. Show compassion in the event of personal issues 33% 55% What is done to aid Employee Employer Listen to their individual financial health and needs 22% 51% view view wellbeing? Have an open door policy Introduced or provide on personal wellbeing 11% 42% 12% 26% childcare vouchers Encourage or enable good Operate a staff discount work life balance 15% 31% 19% 25% scheme Provide helplines or face to Initiatives where staff can face counselling 13% 27% 7% 22% swap benefits Pride themselves in coming One day courses on how to up with solutions to health save money 2% 18% or wellbeing problems at 17% 22% work Financial education events 3% 18% Financial workshops to dealAt a time when work loads are increasing less than a third 4% 16% with tough economyof employers are encouraging employees to have a goodwork life balance. This is likely to add to stress levels for Host sessions explainingstaff, yet less than a third of employers provide access to company share plans or 8% 15%helplines or counselling to help staff if the pressure starts to pensionsmount up. It could be argued that an employees’ financial health has less to do with an employer than their physical and emotional health. However, taking time to help staff deal with the tough economy, and understand how to get the best value from their employee benefits, is an important part of caring for their overall wellbeing. Financial difficulties can have a major impact their emotional health and wellbeing. 9
  10. 10. Going the extra mile Engaged employees have a sense of personal attachment to their work and organisation; they are motivated and able to give their best to help it succeed - and from that flows a series of tangible benefits for organisation and individual alike. Engaging for success: Enhancing performance through employee engagement - David MacLeod and Nita Clarke Being willing to go the extra mile for an employer is a key indicator of how engaged an employee is. If they feel valued and a sense of loyalty to their employer they’re more likely to step up to the plate and deliver more than expected when necessary. The motivation for employees to do that can often come from their level of job satisfaction, whether they feel inspired and whether they believe they can make a worthwhile contribution. Having a workforce that’s willing to do more than expected However, although the vast majority of employees say they can have many positive benefits for employers, most go the extra mile, they feel that this is unreciprocated. Three notably higher productivity, reduced staff turnover and quarters of UK workers feel their employer never (24%) reduced sickness rates. or rarely (51%) goes the extra mile for them. Only 21% of employees say their employer frequently goes above and Our research shows that the overriding majority of workers beyond what they would expect and just 4% say they are willing to go the extra mile. 16% say they do it all the always do. time and 58% say they frequently do. Employees believe they demonstrate this by doing the following: • 66% work beyond their official hours Employees who feel their employer • 64% take pride in everything they do cares about their health and wellbeing are three times more likely • 61% step up if a colleague is away or underperforming to ‘go the extra mile’ • 40% volunteer to do a difficult task • 40% give emotional support to colleagues • 21% defend difficult management decisions This highlights the need for employers to do more than just provide a salary. Employees want to feel that working extra Health and wellbeing directly influences the motivation hours or defending management decisions is recognised, of employees to go the extra mile. If employees feel their reciprocated and valued. This also shows that there employer doesn’t care about it, they are four times more are differences of opinion around what is expected and likely to say they ‘never go the extra mile’. Likewise, what is considered as ‘going the extra mile’ – increased employees who do feel their employer cares about their communication and managing expectations are key to health and wellbeing are more than three times more likely overcoming this. to ‘go the extra mile’ all the time (51% compared to 16%). Although three quarters of employees believe that their employer never, or rarely, goes the extra mile for them, ‘My employer ‘My employer Employee goes the view of employers is very different. Only 6% say they cares a great doesn’t care extra mile never go the extra mile for their employees and 36% say deal’ at all’ they rarely do. The majority (46%) say they frequently go Never 3% 14% the extra mile, while 12% say they always do. This rises to 15% of Managing Director and HR Directors, and drops significantly to 5% of Finance Directors. 51% of employers Rarely 6% 24% say they take into account personal circumstances when reviewing health and wellbeing policies, while 45% actively Frequently 40% 46% try to reduce stress in the workplace, which is above and beyond what is expected. All the time 51% 16%10
  11. 11. Measuring employee engagementThe vast majority of employers (85%) believe there is a Only 27% of employers say they routinely ask the workforcelink between investing in health and wellbeing as a way to about their health and wellbeing. Finance Directors seemengage with employees, yet only 14% have seen direct to be markedly detached from this as only 16% agree thatevidence of this. This drops to 7% of Finance Directors. this is a case. 14% of employers state they ask about itThis highlights how difficult it can be for employers to occasionally. A number of different measurement tools aremeasure how effective their health and wellbeing strategy used:actually is. Health and wellbeing measurement % tools 93% of employers do not measure return on investment of employee Absence rates 59% benefits Staff surveys 46%Strikingly, 76% of employers do not correlate employee Staff retention and turnover rates 36%health and wellbeing to productivity, a figure that rises to86% for Finance Directors. Those that do more than mosttend to be in the IT and Telecoms, HR, Finance, Healthcare Overall business performance 30%and Education sectors. Productivity benchmarking 20%The overwhelming majority of employers (93%) also admitthey do not measure return on investment of employee Benchmarking using engagement data 11%benefits. However, when asked which health relatedbenefits they believe would have the greatest return 30% of employers definitely have an accurate idea of howon investment in terms of productivity, private medical their employees feel, while 47% say they probably do. Oneinsurance was the most popular. in five admits they do not really know how their employees feel, while 3% confess they definitely do not know if their Health related benefit % employees are engaged or not. Private medical insurance 37% Again, Managing Directors and HR Directors tend to be closer to their employees. Only 3% say they definitely don’t have an accurate idea of how their employees feel, Health screening 34% compared to 6% of Finance Directors. Health cash plans 24% Employees are far less likely to believe that their employers asks about their health and wellbeing, as only 7% say they Employee Assistance Programmes 24% are routinely asked, and almost half claim they are never asked about it. Dental plans 24% The lack of measurement in terms of productivity and return on investment can make it hard for employers to see the Gym membership 23% true value of health and wellbeing benefits. However, the fact that employees regard them so highly shows how Vaccinations 17% important they are to engagement Cycle to work schemes 16% 11
  12. 12. Conclusion As we have seen, employees who believe their employer A final word from Nick Kemsley cares about their health and wellbeing are more likely to If we look for a common theme in this research we be loyal, go the extra mile and stay in their jobs for longer. could perhaps make the following observation. As cost This can bring huge gains for employers who deliver more management has bitten into organisations in the last 12 to effectively through increased productivity and performance 18 months, employers seem to have put more focus on and can reduce staff turnover, sickness absence and supporting employee health and wellbeing through more recruitment costs. indirect and non financial means. However, it’s important for employers to cater for the This has perhaps led employers to believe that they’re still physical, emotional and financial health of employees. caring about health and wellbeing, but their employees Taking the time to treat employees as individuals, whether have mixed views. This is possibly because they’re seeing a that’s by showing compassion in the event of personal change in some of the symbols such as health benefits and issues, or providing health benefits tailored to their needs approaches to absence management. can show that they are valued. It is clear that softer approaches to driving engagement It’s clear there’s a huge difference between the benefits through health and wellbeing do pay dividends for employees believe they are provided, and those that employers and employees alike. Given that there’s unlikely employers say they provide. Regular communication to be a sudden relaxation in the financial constraints should be an integral part of any health and wellbeing around employee health and wellbeing, employers would strategy, (including targeted communication at potential perhaps be wise to consider the most cost effective means time of need) so employees are aware of the support to maintain tangible key benefits, whilst at the same time that’s available. There’s no point having benefits in place if focus on finding ways of enhancing engagement which are employees do not appreciate or value them, as this will do less reliant on money. nothing to increase their engagement. The survey clearly shows that small gestures count, and The fact that so few employers measure the impact health this certainly supports what I see as a trend in business to and wellbeing benefits can have on productivity, or return increase non financial recognition through employee and on investment may be short sighted. Companies need senior team led recognition schemes. Many of these are loyal, talented and productive staff to remain with them, simply mechanistic ways of saying ‘thank you’, or involve not just in difficult times, but also when the economy starts small but symbolic remuneration. to recover. Employees who feel they are treated well and are being taken care of are more likely to stay with the However, I don’t think that these measures will necessarily organisation in the long term. Those who don’t may move ever replace the need for more tangible and symbolic on at the first opportunity, and that’s a risk that many investment in employee health and wellbeing, but in the companies cannot afford to take. short term the aim should be to at least compensate for the impact of cost management measures. Over time, it Importantly, Finance Directors, who are often the ultimate may be that employers offer a balance of cost optimised decision maker on spend on benefits and health and benefits provision and a suite of non financial, manager led wellbeing appear to be distanced from levels of employee activities. engagement. Unless they fully understand what is valued by employees they cannot truly know the impact certain benefits can have.12
  13. 13. What we do for our people Jo Boxer, Head of Culture and Engagement Our health and wellbeing strategy Our new employee health plan combines a cash plan and considers the ‘whole life’ needs of our private medical insurance. This means our people can employees and includes emotional, access treatment promptly, and look after their everyday physical and financial wellbeing. healthcare needs. The plan is provided to every member of staff, regardless of their job role, level in the organisation or At Simplyhealth, we know that our the number of hours they work.people’s health and wellbeing makes a big difference tohow they feel at work, and that this comes across in their We take the time to understand the needs of ourinteraction with customers. We ensure they have a healthy employees and the wellbeing interventions they life balance, so they’re able to focus on our customers We conduct an annual employee survey called Expressand deliver excellent service. We also provide wellbeing Yourself, which is completed by around 80% of our peoplesupport that includes free fruit, desk side massages, every year. In 2010, 90% said they were willing to workhealthy eating days, flu vaccinations, financial guidance, beyond what is required in their job to help Simplyhealthoccupational health support, an employee assistance succeed. Following the survey we develop local and groupprogramme and much more. action plans to drive change in key areas. 13
  14. 14. About Simplyhealth We currently help more than 11,000 businesses provide Simply Self Funded access to health and wellbeing benefits for their staff. Our With a self funded health plan companies invest in their plan corporate paid, employee paid and flexible benefits include to meet the cost of claims, rather than paying premiums private medical insurance, health cash plans, dental plans to an insurer. It means they only pay for claims incurred, and self funded health plans. We also provide employee not an annual premium. Through efficient management by paid cash plans and dental plans to major companies. Simplyhealth, a self funded plan can maintain cost savings year after year and there’s no need to pay Insurance Simply Cash Plan Premium Tax. For larger employers with more than 500 Employees can claim back money towards the cost of employees, self funded health plans are a good option. visiting the dentist, optician and complementary therapists We’ve specialised in self funded health plans for 25 years, such as chiropractors and physiotherapists, up to annual and we’re proud to say that every private hospital network limits. Up to four children are covered for free, and the in the UK currently uses Simplyhealth to administer their self employee can add their partner if they’re not already funded health plans. included. We became Simplyhealth after bringing together BCWA, Simply Dental Plan HealthSure, HSA, LHF and Totally Active. We’re committed Check-ups, treatment and emergencies are all covered to doing the right thing, not just the easy thing, and by the Simply Dental Plan, up to an annual limit. It also going the extra mile to deliver a personal service to our includes a cash sum if the employee is diagnosed with customers. In fact, we’ve been helping people access mouth cancer. affordable healthcare for almost 140 years and that’s because we think health is the most important thing of all. Private health insurance Our broad range of private medical insurance provides We care about our communities and last year donated cover for acute medical conditions and helps people get £1.6m to health related charities and good causes. In a the treatment they need when they need it. Our plans are world where so many people can’t be bothered, we’re flexible and can meet the needs of businesses whatever proud to be the ones that can. their size or budget. About our research We collected the responses of 1,005 workers, 504 It abides by the Market Research Society (MRS) code Managing Directors, Human Resources Directors, Divisional of conduct. Based around principles of data protection and Company Directors and 204 Finance Directors using legislation and research ethics, the MRS code has the an online fieldwork methodology. The research was carried confidence of the business community, Government and out between 27 April and 3 May 2011. regulators.14
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  16. 16. Simplyhealth contacts If you’re a business call: 0845 075 0063 If you’re an intermediary call: 0800 294 7303 If you’re a journalist call: 0844 579 2266 Email: Online: Follow us on Twitter: @simplyhealthUK LinkedIn: Postal address: Simplyhealth Hambleden House Waterloo Court Andover Hampshire SP10 1LQ1105053 Simplyhealth is a trading name of Simplyhealth Access, registered and incorporated in England and Wales, No.183035. Registered office: Hambleden House, Waterloo Court, Andover, Hampshire, SP10 1LQ. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Your calls may be recorded and monitored for training and quality assurance purposes.