We strive to have a positive impact on all of our key stakeholders
Since the Company listed on AIM in May 2016 we have been a responsible business that has allowed access to important personal credit to thousands of people in the UK who rely on our core principles of being an ethical lender, with no additional or hidden charges, fees or other costs. We are proud of the valuable contribution made by the Company to the wider society and communities across the UK, in line with our purpose of meeting the real need for responsible lending to customers with a complex credit history, and the values that underpin the culture of the business.
Treating customers fairly is the foundation of our approach. Our business model centres on responsible lending and collection of repayments. We assess every application for credit against stringent criteria, taking into account affordability and credit checks. A complete income and expenditure check is undertaken for every loan, and we only lend to customers who can afford the repayments.
Last year, c. 70% of loan applications were not progressed. We have a clear, uncomplicated charging structure, with no penalties or fees for delays in repayments.
The Group is built on trusted relationships which underpin our commitment to customers:
- Our customers will always be at the heart of everything we do.
- We will be honest and transparent in how we deal with everyone.
- Our systems and processes will be simple and clear.
- We will show forbearance and flexibility.
The culture that underlies these commitments is founded on behaviours that are honest, fair, responsible, supportive and understanding.
And our core values are:
All employees, from the CEO to the most recent recruit, undertake regulatory training each month. In addition, many of our managers are involved in a core skills programme based on self-learning to enhance their skills further.
Each year we undertake an employee engagement survey to give colleagues an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions on an anonymous basis. In 2020 we commissioned Mustard to conduct an additional online survey to understand how employees were feeling and their experiences of working from home during lockdown. In summer 2021 we undertook follow-up research to understand how attitudes had changed and explore feelings towards future hybrid working, highlights of which are outlined below:
- 86% of employees surveyed indicated that they were coping well working from home, up from 76% during May/June 2020.
- More than 80% of employees felt engaged with Morses Club and reported that their overall wellbeing was the same or better than before they started working from home.
- Nine out of ten employees were positive about the support they had received from their line manager, with 68% classifying it as ‘excellent’ overall. All areas of the business showed an improvement year-on-year.
- Just 3% of employees had a preference to be office-based, with the vast majority (81%) expressing a preference to continue to work from home.
- A third of staff felt that they would need to access office space at least once a month, with the remainder indicating that this need would be less often. These findings have helped to continue to develop our office space, which is now limited to a Nottingham contact centre. We will continue to monitor employee wellbeing through tailored feedback mechanisms.
We will continue to engage with every member of the team to get a broad picture of their health and wellbeing, working environment and technology, to ensure we knew how we could best support them and to help us to plan for the future.
The health and safety of all our teams is paramount to the success of the business and we continue to adapt our approaches in line with our customer needs.
Employee wellbeing is very important to us. Our employees have access to a platform offering employees rewards and offers, as well as confidential advice and assistance. To provide greater flexibility to employees we now offer them the opportunity to buy (and sell) annual leave. These, as well as the employee share scheme, are examples of initiatives introduced as a result of suggestions in the annual employee survey.
- 71% Report positive overall wellbeing
- 82% Describe wellbeing as the same or better since working from home
- 85% Feel engaged with Morses Club
Employee share ownership is a valuable way to share the success of the business with colleagues. In January 2021, employees received Morses Club shares following the vesting of their 2017 share award. The HCC division also issued shares to employees in 2018 and 2019 under a replacement Share Incentive Plan, representing 3.25% of base annual salary in shares. This plan was recognised by ProShare, winning one of their awards in 2019.
No new shares were issued during FY21 due to the Group failing to meet its FY20 adjusted profit before tax target, but an award of 3.25% of base salary was made again in December 2021 to qualifying employees in both its HCC and Digital divisions. The Group intends to repeat this in future years, subject to the Group’s profitability.
In addition to the indirect contribution we make to communities across the UK by facilitating financial inclusion for people unable to access credit from mainstream lenders and providing business opportunities for self-employed agents, we also raise money for good causes. During the year, we donated c. £7,000 to a variety of local and national charities, and plan to donate a further £5,000 to the British Heart Foundation in relation to surveys completed during the year. For FY23, we have chosen to support the Trussell Trust to raise money in memory of Mark Jakeman, our Operations Director who sadly died in January 2022.
When changing our property strategy this year, we sought to balance the practical needs of our employees and business with the need to ensure that environmentally we make changes to support the UK government target of being carbon neutral by 2050. By massively reducing our estate footprint, we can deliver many improvements to our environmental performance, including reducing our emissions and waste.
Initiatives to reduce our impact
Having reduced our long-term lease estate commitments from around 90 sites to one in the previous year, during the period we reduced the office premises that we occupy on a short-term lease to one in Leeds, and our transport and our transport and fuel usage reduced considerably. Our Nottingham office had LED lighting, sensor lighting and thermostat heating installed, and we installed sensor lighting and blind fittings to the windows at our Leeds site.
In addition, we had already made the decision to remove all leased company cars, replacing this with a car allowance to employees who need a car for business purposes. This will be complete by the end of December 2023.
The shift to remote working over the last two years has also allowed us to significantly reduce our consumption of paper and office supplies. During the period we used 1.2 million sheets of paper, down from almost 14 million sheets two years previously.
See our SECR disclosure on page 41 of our Annual Report for more information on our environmental performance this year.