June 6, 2023

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Business The Solution

Take as much holiday as you like, City broker tells staff

A City of London broker will allow its employees to take as many holidays as they want in a bid to prevent staff burnout.

FinnCap, which specialises in companies on London’s junior Aim market, will offer unlimited paid breaks to its 155 staff from next year.

The chief executive, Sam Smith, told Bloomberg that the firm’s investment bankers, salespeople and other employees will be required to take a minimum of at least four weeks off a year and two or three days every three months. 

She said: “There’s not a maximum, there’s a minimum you must take. The rest is up to you.” 

It comes as firms look to keep staff on side following an unprecedented period of activity for capital markets during the pandemic. 

That has taken its toll on the health of finance workers, with junior staff in particular reporting burnout after working extremely long hours. 

In March, junior Goldman Sachs bankers begged to work just 80 hours a week, after a leaked survey highlighted how “inhumane” expectations were leading to mental health issues among staff. 

Holiday policies similar to the one announced by FinnCap are increasingly common among tech companies, but many financial services businesses are still wedded to a brutal long-hours culture. 

LinkedIn and Netflix are among firms that offer versions of an “unlimited vacation” policy. However, these policies have faced criticism for resulting in staff taking fewer days off.

CharlieHR, a London-based software company, scrapped its unlimited holiday policy, saying some employees took less leave than before. 

Rachel Suff at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said: “Unlimited leave sounds like a nice idea in theory, but for it to work you need to have a workplace culture where it’s acceptable to take the leave on offer. It should also not be used to allow unhealthy working practices to go unchallenged.

“Rather than offering unlimited leave, employers can better support their employees’ wellbeing by making sure they’re not working overly long hours, taking the leave which they’re entitled to, and not dealing with unmanageable workloads.”

Ms Smith, who became the City’s first female stockbroker chief when she founded the firm in 2007, said: “Burnout is not resolved by a quick two-week holiday. It is resolved by properly changing the way you work.”

The company also outlined a list of activities, such as vet visits and plumber callouts, that would not count towards holiday leave.