Institutional Asset Manager 14.05.21

institutional asset manager maddy taylor captioned.jpg Over a year into the fight against coronavirus, the “shadow pandemic” is taking centre-stage this week for Mental Health Awareness Week. Evidence shows multiple lockdowns have taken a toll on minds, with one in five adults in the UK reporting experiencing symptoms of depression during the pandemic.  

Employees have been forced to work from home, which has exacerbated issues of burn-out, fatigue, and the pressure to stay constantly connected – with the maintenance of mental wellbeing becoming a significant challenge in the past year. 

Financial firms are being accused of taking a lax attitude to employee mental health. Only 12 per cent of asset managers have a standalone strategy in place for employee wellbeing, much lower than the average across other industries, according to a survey from Howden. 

“Employee wellbeing has tended to be overlooked by many asset management firms in favour of high-value insurance benefits, but as we move beyond Covid-19 it must become a priority,” said a director at Howden. 

The effects of overlooking mental health are stark. A quarter of managers in the finance industry say they considered quitting their job as a result of burn-out since the first national lockdown last March, according to research from Benenden Health. 

Poor mental health is estimated to cost employers up to GBP45 billion a year, according to Deloitte. 

Mental wellbeing in the workforce also poses an ESG risk for investors, although social issues have so far commanded less attention from investors than issues around climate change and the environment.  

NN Investment Partners recently highlighted sustainability-linked bonds as a way of investing for broader social benefits, as opposed to more conventional green bonds.  

The market for sustainability-linked bonds has grown rapidly from USD5 billion in 2019 to over USD19 billion in the first half of 2021. 

Madeleine Taylor
Editor, Institutional Asset Manager


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