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Creating workplaces with a residential feel: the future of offices for wealth managers

By John Drover, CEO, Argyll

Wealth managers and financiers have been back in offices for months – yet the ‘future of work’ is still attracting debate amongst leading City figures. PwC may have expected their announcement of extended early Friday finishes this summer to be welcomed by all, but instead found themselves criticised by Lord Sugar. However, for the financial services community, the future of work is not simply about the merits of home working against office working, but instead is about the best of both: creating an informal, welcoming office space with high-end surroundings and a boutique residential feel.

Relationships are critical in the financial world. Communicating face-to-face is essential to business growth. As the pandemic recedes, and firms look to come out swinging, any competitive edge is an advantage. Client meetings, training new recruits, and even socialising with colleagues, are all facilitated and made easier by the right kind of workspace.

As readers will know, professionals in the financial services and wealth management sectors have been working ‘flexibly’ for quite some time – coming into the office for meetings, deals, and socialising, and remaining at home on quieter days. Agile working is a requirement in the finance community.

So, for financiers, the attraction of the office doesn’t lie in bean bags and ping-pong tables. Instead, set-desk, private offices with the option of breakout spaces are in demand for the financial sector – spaces for team members to meet and collaborate, but also host clients in discrete, high-end surroundings which emulate the business’ brand.

High-end comforts

After two years of enforced remote working, financial firms are on the lookout for an office which matches the comforts their employees have come to expect. The offices of the future must be premium – in design, location, comfort, and tech. For example, at Argyll, we are investing £27 million in an extensive refurbishment programme, working with Grand Designs presenter Damion Burrows to enhance and upgrade eight prime central London buildings. With premium interior design and furnishings; tech to support hybrid working; and even a signature scent designed by Azzi Glasser, the aim is to create welcoming, luxurious surroundings.

Working in financial services is not a low-pressure affair: an office can, and should, be a tool, helping firms focus on building their business by creating an environment which caters to their every requirement. Ultimately, financial services professionals now require somewhere that has high-quality comforts at their disposal, as well as the IT support and technology to ensure a seamless transition from their home office to city office. The future of work is about high-quality spaces that facilitate productivity and networking.

Talent attraction and building a brand

An impressive headquarters is also a valuable weapon in the fight for talent post-pandemic. A premium office that fosters a sense of productivity, calm and quality can be key to incentivising existing talent to return to the office post-lockdown. More than that though, the office is key to recruitment – it can set a vital first impression. Firms should not underestimate the brand credentials a premium office can offer them.

For example, many financial services firms are currently looking for young ambitious talent for whom a business’ location plays a big role in a job selection. Offices at key hubs in London such as Bank or Mayfair ensure that firms have a range of bars, shops and eateries on the office’s doorstep and, in turn, can offer their younger recruits an active social life and quick access to the best of London.

The pandemic took its toll on businesses’ sense of identity, but this can be rebuilt. The office can allow firms to grow relationships, regroup teams, and construct brands, achieving objectives in line with pandemic recovery strategies. For financiers looking to make the most of in-person collaboration, team building and networking, the future office is here.

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