We understand and respond to the needs of our people and customers
At Arrow, we take our sustainability responsibilities seriously. Under our social programmes we aim to understand and respond to the needs of all our employees and customers, but we also extend this responsibility to the communities in which we operate.
For our colleagues, the unprecedented events of the pandemic tested resolve and put our culture under the spotlight, but we are delighted that we have weathered the crisis in positive fashion.
From the beginning of the pandemic, we mobilised our business continuity plans across the Group, focusing on the wellbeing of our people and compliance with government guidelines. This meant moving all our employees to remote working, and ensuring we provided the right equipment and support. With no certainty to how long the pandemic would last we also began a significant change programme, Arrow Everywhere, to support longer-term remote working and the retention of benefits such as increased work-life balance, no/reduced daily commuting and greater flexibility. We are pleased with the adoption of our hybrid home-office model as we look towards a future that permits greater in-person collaboration and office-based work where appropriate.
Encouragingly, when questioned via the Leesman Employee Experience survey in 2020, over 90% of our people reported working productively from home and 80% noted a healthy work-life balance. This gave us confidence that our employees were resilient to the demands of remote working and comfortable with our response. Supportive of maintaining full operational resilience, we gave all our people access to LifeWorks, a confidential employee assistance programme covering employees and their families. Recognising that every day brings new changes and challenges, LifeWorks provides professional and personal support 24/7, 365 days a year. The launch of LifeWorks is consistent with our culture to build a safe, supportive community with family values at its heart.
During 2021 a new broader D&I strategy was launched recognising that diversity extends beyond gender targets and one that recognises the importance of building an inclusive environment where colleagues can thrive. We commissioned D&I consultants ‘The Clear Company’ to conduct a group wide audit of our people practices in relation to D&I and the results have enabled the company to develop a roadmap of key actions that will help drive continuous improvement in this area.
Employee welfare continued to be reinforced during the continuation of the Covid pandemic through leadership communications, provision of support services such as ‘Lifeworks’ and continued awareness raising events and speaker sessions around a variety of health and wellbeing topics.
Raising awareness around the topic of inclusivity has been a key feature for 2021 and we subscribed to ‘Moving Ahead Summit Series’ which provides content from world-class storytellers and subject-matter experts via a series talk and were promoted during Inclusion Week and International Men’s Day. We have also partnered with organisations such as ENEI and ‘Cool 2B Trans’ who have provided education around LGBTQ+ topics. On the back of Pride month in June a group of volunteers from across the organisation worked to develop ‘Arrow’s Pride Plan’ and subsequently launched our first Employee Network Group for LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies called ‘Together with Pride’. The group have led awareness raising initiatives sharing their personal stories and also developing a digital guide to help raise awareness across the business. The company are now keen to introduce further Employee Network Groups as part of our continuing commitment to building an inclusive environment. During 2021 we also supported the 10,000 Black Interns Programme placing 2 interns within our investments team during the summer of 2021. The success of the internships have led to the company continuing and building on its commitments to the programme for the future with new intake agreed for 2022.
Our operational resilience and the care we gave our employees naturally flowed through to our customers. It was driven, as always, by our purpose, which is to build better financial futures.
Responding proactively to lockdowns across Europe, we implemented actions including the transition of our customer service operations to remote working. Our early intervention here meant we had no outage in service delivery, and we responded to all customer queries at a time when some organisations were struggling to maintain their service levels. To align demand with capacity, we moved to an ‘on demand’ capacity model, moving from traditional shift patterns and adapting to the changing needs of our customers.
Recognising the severity of the situation, we continued with our guiding principle of treating customers fairly, managing the situation based on individual requirements in order to offer support and guidance at a time when they needed us most. Finally, our social outreach was helped by an enhanced digital capability including a new interactive SMS service which allowed customers to contact us when it most suited them.
Irrespective of our COVID-19 response, placing customers at the heart of everything is central to how Arrow operates, and we have always sought to ensure the fair treatment of customers. To help us achieve this, customer forums in each market allow for a focus on best practice with the aim of improving the customer experience and outcomes.
We are confident our customer focused teams continue to drive real value and provide great service to our customers and our proud of recent achievements which include:
With so much emphasis on the customer we were delighted, therefore, to win awards for our customer-service operations. Following the success of being awarded the Credit Strategy ‘Best Outsourcing and Partnership’ Initiative for Onboarding and Customer Engagement for our work with Virgin Money in 2020, our UK team followed this by winning ‘Best Contact Centre Team’ at the 2021 Credit Strategy Collections & Customer Service Awards. We were also a finalist in the ‘Agent of the Year’ and ‘Excellence in Training’ categories. In Portugal, our business was again recognised as a Top Employer and secured several awards including ‘Best Asset Management Service Provider 2021’ (International Investor), ‘Excellence in CSR 2021’ (International Investor), ‘Asset Management Company of the Year – Portugal’ (Global Banking & Finance Review), ‘Most Reliable Asset Management Services – Portugal’ and received The European Magazine ‘Honourable Mention’ from the Kaizen Institute for the efforts dedicated to continuous improvement.
We are also pleased to report that regular updates are provided to the Group’s board, helping to facilitate a full and transparent disclosure of how we are treating customers fairly, how we listen to them, and how we put customers at the centre of everything we do.
Fulfilling our social commitments more broadly, during the year, we continued to support the activities of the major debt charities which provide free impartial advice to our customers, particularly in the UK where we fully support StepChange, Payplan and Christians Against Poverty by way of FairShare contributions and agreed a proof of concept trial with UK-based IncomeMax – a social enterprise focussed on identify ways for customers to increase income, reduce bills and deal with any problem debts.
Charity and volunteering
At Arrow, we are mindful of the role our organisation plays in society and the communities in which we live and operate. We have continued our support for Junior Achievement Europe (JAE), Europe’s largest non-profit provider of educational programmes for financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills for young people. We are very proud of our association with JAE and their role as part of the entire JA network in helping Junior Achievement Worldwide receive a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize 2022.
2021 saw us support classroom-based learning and online-based activities; consistent with our broader organisational culture of embracing new ways of working.
Since the beginning of the partnership in summer 2018, JA Europe and Arrow Global have equipped almost 25,000 young people with employability and financial literacy skills to succeed in a global economy. More than 630 Arrow Global volunteers have been working with JA to implement activities. For 2021 alone, almost 10,000 young people benefitted from the support of Arrow colleagues – more than 37% higher than target – and the range of activity continues to grow as does the role of the Arrow volunteers.
In the classroom, we continued with our flagship ‘Learn to Earn’ programme, whereby Arrow volunteers help to equip students with the tools and knowledge to make good financial choices as well as providing them with information on career opportunities for life after education. In addition, our colleagues were able to engage further through activities which included mentoring, financial boot camps, support for business planning and innovation and virtual job shadowing!
Our group wide efforts with JAE are supplemented but locally inspired charitable and volunteering efforts, each driven by our colleagues in our platforms. We also supported charities including Kaleidoscope and UNICEF with contributions generated for every colleague that responded to our employee engagement survey.
Transitioning online, our focus for the rest of the year has been on educational videos as well as developing a mentoring programme for young people. The educational videos, known as ‘Talking Heads’, see volunteers talk about a range of topics such as interview and presentation skills and CV writing, as well as broader topics covering leadership and entrepreneurship. The videos are subsequently shared across schools helping to instruct thousands of young people with important life skills.
Taking this concept one step further, our Portuguese volunteers delivered an online financial literacy webinar in support of International Student Day that focused on building responsible financial futures. The event reached 65 schools and 1,500 students in major cities including Lisbon, Porto and Viseu. This live tuition has also been replicated in Italy with volunteers tutoring seven schools in the final quarter of the year despite a renewed lockdown.
In addition, each of our locations supported various local causes through the year. the UK, we complemented our core JAE programme by supporting City Year, a Manchester-based charity, helping to run virtual interview skills workshops as well as involvement in their Bridge Builder mentoring programme that sees Arrow volunteers support the development of new mentors.
Outside of our core financial literacy and mentoring programmes, our colleagues in Portugal continued their sponsorship of a school in the Nampula province of Mozambique, in partnership with Helpo ONG, and they also supported the Make-a-Wish charity helping seriously ill and often disadvantaged children realise their dreams. In Italy, our business supported the San Raffaele Hospital in Lombardy that was at the centre of efforts to treat desperately ill COVID-19 patients.
Crowdfunding, we raised over €50,000 to purchase vital intensive care equipment including respirators and monitoring systems, and in the Netherlands, Easter donations were sent to health care workers and other essential workers in care homes as a thank you. In the UK, we organised the collection of toys, books and clothes for the Wood Street Mission for low-income families at Christmas and supported the NSPCC ‘Letter from Santa’ appeal.
Although Arrow operates in the highly specialised alternative investments sector, our social commitments help us be a responsible business, purpose led and an important part of the European financial ecosystem.
|Group engagement score||7.5/10||7.4/10|
|Everyone can be their true self at work||7.8/10||8.0/10|
|Everyone can use their differences to make Arrow a better, more successful place to work||8.0/10||8.1/10
|Customers, communities (external)||2020
|Customer Complaints Upheld||N/A||31%|
|Total beneficiaries of JAE programme||11,636||9,833|