The Forum Buzz: World Mental Health Week 2020

David Cowan

Managing Director

The Financial Services Forum

I’d like to begin by welcoming our newest Members, PGIM. It is fantastic to have PGIM on board, having had some of the team part of our community previously, during their time at past roles in different companies. I am sure you will make them feel welcome once we return to seminar-style events at the end of the year.


“A business that prioritises how it’s employees and customers are feeling, and who they are as individuals, rather than just what they can do for the business, will be a better place to work and a better brand to buy from”

This week, for World Mental Health Awareness Week, Forum team member, Jasmine Butler, has penned some thoughts on what our new way of life might mean post-lockdown, and the impact on mental health and wellbeing. 

“In last Friday’s CMO Surgery, Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer at TSB Bank, said something that tied together some thoughts I’ve had recently. To paraphrase Pete, managing teams during this pandemic has not just been a case of doling out questions about day-to-day productivity, effectiveness, and task management, but asking ‘how are you doing? How are you finding things at the moment?’. Not just, he added, with a subtext of ‘will you deliver this work on time’, but how are you, as a person, right now?

Having known Pete a little while, I can attest to the fact that this is his approach in general, crisis or otherwise. But the pandemic being a crisis of health, has surfaced a kind of existentialism within society. It feels as if within the first couple of weeks of lockdown, most (admittedly not ALL – looking to you, Mike Ashley) brands began to shift from a sales-led approach to a focus on people. Not only caring for the people within their organisation, but trying to make the lives of their customers a little better or easier too. Pandemic aside, isn’t that what we are all ultimately trying to do?

Taking stock of the devastating loss of life worldwide that Covid-19 has caused, it feels as if the crisis has helped us to co-exist, as brand and consumer; brand and employee; and person to person, in a more kind and considered way. Mental health advocate and author, Matt Haig, posted something on LinkedIn recently that I felt articulated this well: ‘lockdown poses its own mental health challenges. But can we please stop pretending our former world of long working hours, stressful commutes, hectic crowds (…) was a mental health utopia?’.

How many times have you felt your shoulders tense up, squeezing onto a packed Central Line at 7am? Then rather than questioning what you might be able to do differently, just accepted it as a necessary evil? We all have to navigate stressful commutes and hectic crowds sometimes, but right now, as we begin to see calmer waters ahead on the lockdown horizon, I’m wondering what changes we might all be able to make, to bring a sprinkle of this slower and kinder way of life into our ‘new’ post-crisis world.

Call me a Millennial, but I truly believe that to deliver your best work, be creatively inspired and bring your full potential to work, you must feel as if you’re operating on a full tank of mental, physical and spiritual fuel. Yes, sometimes pushing yourself to the peak of your capability is uncomfortable. You also might not always get eight hours of sleep and some days, a packed tube IS a necessary evil. But, I believe that a business that prioritises how it’s employees and customers are feeling, and who they are as individuals, rather than just what they can do for the business, will be a better place to work and a better brand to buy from.

The days of burnout being a badge of honour are over, which I’m sure we can all agree, will only be a good thing.”

If you’d like to contribute a thought piece for our weekly newsletter, please drop me a line at [email protected]


Five Thing’s We’ve Learnt This Week

1. Research carried out by MESH Experience, as part of their weekly retail banking insight piece, found that consumers are reporting increased fears over government spending, taxes and the impending recession, versus earlier in the crisis.

2. Global Futures and Foresight (GFF) predict that there is a 40% likelihood of a ‘Hospitalised’ post-Covid economic scenario, as opposed other potential outcomes. GFF summarise this as being based on ‘a slow lifting of the lockdown and social distancing, with the economy continuing to be hospitalised and pre-pandemic output levels not regained until 2023’

3. Amin Rajan, CEO of UK think tank CREATE-Research, spoke to Warhorse Partners on this podcast. Aman comments on how we are now at a point whereby the government must navigate striking the delicate ‘balance between human life and human livelihood’, given the enormous knock-on effect on the UK economy. And, in the asset management world, are active managers still able to provide value in this climate?

4. The monthly UK Consumer Confidence Barometer, undertaken by GfK on behalf of the European Commission, plummeted by by 25 points to -34 in April, following lockdown.

5. Post-pandemic, headline consumer megatrends will shift from ‘wealth’ to ‘health’; ‘wall street’ to ‘main street’; ‘de-regulation’ to ‘intervention’ with a growing interest in ‘conscious capitalism’; a report from Teamspirit states, demonstrating ‘a move to stakeholder capitalism and more weight to ESG criteria and employee satisfaction, alongside profit’.


This Afternoon’s CMO Surgery
Don’t forget to join us this afternoon at 3pm, where we’ll be hearing from Toby Clark, Research Director at Mintel; Jez Groom, Founder and Chief Choice Architect, Cowry Consulting; David Anglés Pereda, Head of Marketing, Iberia, Allianz Global Investors and David Smith, CEO, GFF.

This week’s topic is ‘The World Post Covid-19’, and it looks as ever, to be a topical and interesting discussion.

As ever, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line if there is anything you’d like to discuss, or if you have any ideas for a Forum discussion or webinar. I’d love to hear from you.

Have a fantastic bank-holiday weekend.


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