BT is set to offer frontline workers a special bonus of £1,500 in recognition of their work to keep customers connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bonus is equivalent to about 5% of BT’s average salary and will offered to around 59,000 staff, the company said in a statement.
"BT has made a massive contribution to the national cause over the past year,” said BT CEO Philip Jansen. “We’ve supported the NHS, families and businesses, and avoided the use of redundancy or furlough in our response to the pandemic."
“Our frontline colleagues and key workers have been true heroes, keeping everyone connected in this most difficult time.”
BT does not expect any change to its full year financial outlook as a result of the bonus payment, which comes amid a company-wide pay freeze. The announcement coincides with plans by Communication Workers Union (CWU) to ballot its members about industrial action following a dispute with BT management.
The CWU is concerned that the company’s modernisation plans could result in up to 270 office closures and thousands of job cuts. Around 3,600 jobs at BT were cut in 2020 under Jansen.
Around 45,000 BT staff are represented by the CWU.
BT’s Q3 revenue for 2020 was roughly £16 billion, down 7% “due primarily to the impact of COVID-19”, the company said. Profit for the nine months leading up to 31 December fell 17% to under £1.6 billion.
BT is not the only UK firm to be offering staff pandemic bonus payments. Supermarkets Sainsbury and Lidl also rewarded staff with payouts, with Sainsbury’s granting frontline workers a 3% bonus – worth about £530 to a full-time employee.
Junior bankers at Goldman Sachs claim to have suffered “inhumane” treatment and workplace abuse that has led to a deterioration in their mental health.
An internal survey conducted among 13 first-year investment banking analysts at the firm showed that respondents on average worked for 95 hours each week since January – with one week in February reaching an average of 105 working hours – and slept five hours per night. All 13 respondents felt the hours they were compelled to work had negatively impacted their relationships with family and friends.
The majority of respondents surveyed also said they had suffered abuse in the workplace, such as being frequently sworn or shouted at, or facing unwarranted public criticism. Most said they would be forced to quit their jobs within six months if conditions were not improved.
“This is beyond the level of ‘hard working’, this is inhumane, abuse,” one respondent said.
The survey was initially presented to the bank as a slideshow in February, but has since begun to circulate on Twitter. Goldman has acknowledged the survey and the presentation.
“We recognise that our people are very busy, because business is strong and volumes are at historic levels,” a spokesperson for the bank said. “A year into COVID, people are understandably quite stretched, and that’s why we are listening to their concerns and taking multiple steps to address them.”
The bank said that it has accelerated its hiring process and moved to automate more tasks to reduce employee workloads.
The leaked presentation suggested that Goldman set a maximum of 80-hour work weeks and allowing junior staff at least a week to prepare material ahead of meetings.
"Junior bankers should not be expected to do any work after 9 PM Friday or all day Saturday without a pre-approved exception, as that is the only safe-guarded personal time that we get," the report said.
Artificial intelligence has already made a significant, positive impact on the financial services ecosystem and we can only expect this trend to accelerate in years to come. AI has the potential to radically transform businesses but only if they deploy it with appropriate diligence and care. A 2020 report by EY and Invesco anticipates that AI will expand the workforce in fintech by 19% by 2030 as the industry stands to be one of the largest to benefit from the efficiency gains and innovation the technology can bring through operational optimisation, reduction of human biases and minimisation of errors in anomalous data. Alex Housley, CEO and founder of Seldon, further analyses the recent changes in the role of AI and the impact it is set to have on the finance sector in years to come.
According to a report by Bloomberg, listings for AI-based jobs within the financial sector increased by approximately 60% from 2018 to 2019. This demand for workers with AI expertise is not only seen within the financial industry but across a variety of other professional sectors, such as e-commerce, digital marketing and social media. The jobs market has had little time to respond, resulting in a shortage in access to talent. A study by SnapLogic found that whilst 93% of UK and US organisations are fully invested in the use of AI as a priority in their business, many lack access to the right technology, data, and most importantly, talent to carry these goals out. This ‘skills shortage’ is a major obstacle to the adoption of AI in business, with 51% of those surveyed acknowledging that they don’t have enough individuals trained in-house to make their strategies a reality. Machine learning can offer benefits in many forms and different businesses have varying needs. There is no ‘one size fits all approach’ when adopting and deploying AI, which can make it a costly process for many organisations not equipped with the right tools.
Fortunately, there is ample opportunity to enhance the responsibilities of numerous roles within their organisation or let employees get on with more strategic work. SEB, a large Swedish bank, uses a virtual assistant called Aida which is able to handle natural-language conversations and so can answer a trove of customer FAQs. This means customer service professionals have been redeployed to focus on complex requests and their more meaningful responsibilities. Even employees currently working within the industry are looking to broaden their skills to become more versatile across new technology-driven roles. In particular, financial services companies are looking to upskill their data scientists and analysts. They have the base skill set required and can do tremendously well with the right engineering support. Deploying artificial intelligence within a business’s infrastructure means it can take care of mindless, repetitive tasks and free up employees to focus on other, more rewarding parts of the business, maximising automation and cutting costs.
There is no ‘one size fits all approach’ when adopting and deploying AI, which can make it a costly process for many organisations not equipped with the right tools.
One of the biggest use cases of artificial intelligence within financial services is fraud protection. With the rise of online banking and the exponential growth of digital payments, banks have to monitor huge swathes of transactions for fraudulent behaviour. This huge influx of data points poses major issues for the human brain but actually maximises the effectiveness of ML systems. We’ve seen significant growth in the use of deep learning, with most major retail banks now relying on machine learning tools to recognise and flag suspicious activity. To keep up with the pace of criminals and comply with stricter regulations, service providers have to look beyond traditional methods and implement hybrid strategies built around holistic understandings of behavioural and anomalous data.
Indeed, research by AI Opportunity Landscape found that approximately 26% of funding raised for AI startups within the financial services industry were for fraud or cybersecurity applications, dwarfing other use cases. This number is expected to rise as fraud detection and mitigation continues to be one the highest priorities for customer-facing organisations as consumers increasingly hand over their data in exchange for services.
Financial services companies are increasingly leveraging artificial intelligence to deliver tailored services and products for their client base. For those banks mining data effectively, AI provides the ability to serve customer needs across multiple channels, and in some cases to grow operations at an unprecedented scale. Tools such as chatbots, voice automation and facial recognition are just a few of the ways banks are using AI to streamline and personalise the user journey for their customers. Importantly, consumers are increasingly literate in automated services and their expectations are constantly rising as the technology improves, meaning organisations must constantly adapt or risk being left behind.
Chatbots and voice agents are also able to detect and predict changes in consumer behaviour, giving feedback on each interaction with a customer. All the results from customer touch-points are shared across the organisation, ensuring decisions and recommendations involving a human or machine are more intelligent and precise. Over time, these analytics mean businesses can make real-time decisions with their customers in mind, boosting engagement and personalisation.
In order to detect customer data from online purchases, web browsing and in-store interactions, banks must have AI in place to collect the data and automate decision-making. By adapting these technologies banks can connect their data, amplifying their offering effectively across all channels.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have already enhanced numerous capabilities for the financial sector, improving recommendations, customer experience, and efficiencies via automation. AI will continue to dominate different parts of the financial sector, and the acquisition of machine learning and data science talent will become the norm. A recent survey from the World Economic Forum attests to this, with nearly two-thirds of financial services leaders expecting to be mass adopters of AI in two years compared to just 16% today.
Acquiring the right talent to drive machine learning and AI in organisations will remain a challenge as innovation is focused in different areas and new technologies are being implemented. In lockstep with this will be the constantly evolving regulatory landscape surrounding adoption of AI in financial services as each side races to match and often contain the other. However, the multiple benefits that come from implementing AI and machine learning are clear, and it will be a key area of focus and growth for businesses within financial services over the next decade.
Overwhelmed by demanding new regulations, leading financial institutions are relying on video to manage the flow of critical information to employees. Below Paul Herdman, Vice President of Qumu EMEA, explains how finance teams and compliance officers can make the most of enterprise videos.
With worldwide financial institutions finally beginning to recover from Brexit, and derivatives markets still adjusting to the rollout of MiFID I, the next communication crisis for this turbulent industry is already looming. As political and regulatory regimes continue to extend their influence, firms doing business across the EU must now preparing for implementation of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II)—which reaches beyond banking to impact trading as well—while US-based financial institutions are busy figuring out how to comply with GDPR (the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation).
With both regulations including organisations and their global subsidiaries, greater market transparency in the financial industry is becoming a worldwide mandate. These new directives will have a huge impact on regulated firms in 2018 and beyond and will require financial institutions to upgrade their processes, their compliance operations and most importantly their communication technologies.
A 2017 Thomson Reuters survey revealed the average annual cost of compliance for global financial organisations is $119M per organisation. Additionally, 73% of communication professionals reported that communicating company news to employees is a serious challenge and 37% reported internal silos as the number one challenge for internal communications.
As these companies respond to increasing demands of regulators to meet new directives, many are proactively focusing on developing robust communication programmes. And the centrepiece of these new programmes is, in many cases, an enterprise video platform. Live or on demand, IT executives know that video communication can be fully automated, easily searchable and consumed on any device—making it the perfect communication solution in highly regulated environments. In fact, if managed well, video communication can translate into shorter time-to-compliance, and save financial services firms hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars per year per employee.
Enterprise video to the rescue
There are many ways using an enterprise video platform can help financial institutions meet compliance directives:
Timely communication: when workforces are dispersed, video messages can be easily created and instantly distributed to employees as regulations change.
Opportunities for feedback: key stakeholders can submit feedback and questions to the executive team, which can be captured and tracked for future resolution, or to identify gaps in the current process.
Timely collaboration: financial institutions can create private communication channels where key team members can share knowledge, insights and outcomes related to their discipline or functional responsibility.
Strategy alignment: video is a great way to present a consistent story across the organisation—before the message is taken externally and any room for misalignment is eliminated.
Increased readiness: video polls can be used to gauge readiness on a specific topic or portion of a new regulation, reinforcing mission-critical compliance procedures.
Documented audit trail: with marketing teams playing a key role in the new directives, automated workflows for approvals and audit trails are key for financial promotions and marketing collateral compliance.
Configurable security: executives can share knowledge quickly across the organisation, privately to specific groups of key stakeholders or to larger audiences with no content restrictions.
Reporting and analytics: a video content management system can provide advanced analytics on content review, meeting attendance and overall engagement with the company message.
In conclusion – broaden your reach
Technology investments in enterprise video are key to mitigating regulatory risk. Not only do they provide a platform to communicate how regulatory changes will impact activity, but they allow financial institutions to quickly adapt to evolving rollouts, and ensure that all financial activities, including trades, remain in compliance. With the right enterprise video platform in place, many global financial institutions have been prepared well in advance for MiFID II and GDPR to happen. Is your company ready?
If you are interested in any small scale company video production in the UK, businesses can reach out to Tell Your Story UK here.