Creating an inspiring workplace

Materiality topics

> Diversity and Inclusion

> Talent Management

> Integrity

> Culture – Learning, Wellbeing, Remuneration

A diverse and inclusive workplace is integral to delivering the best outcomes for our clients. At Martin Currie, we have championed a learning culture, actively promoting diversity of thought and collaboration across the organisation. Leadership, ambition and taking ownership are encouraged, recognised and rewarded across the business. Not only that, senior members hold themselves to the highest standards and are passionate about developing others. A uniting factor in our people is our focus on our clients.

2017/18 Highlights

People 1
Developed our learning culture with investment in coaching and forging strong links with Galashiels Academy (comprehensive school near Edinburgh)
People 3
Advanced our programme to improve Martin Currie’s diversity profile
People 2
Launched initiatives to enhance employee wellbeing

Learning culture

Our learning culture is one of the features most commonly cited by our people as setting us apart from other organisations. It is one of our defining traits and is key to both current and future success. We believe that by learning from success and failure, by adopting a growth mindset (encouraging people to take themselves out of their ‘comfort zone’ and develop their abilities through dedication and hard work), and fostering better more meaningful feedback, we can adapt and build a better, more effective business. 

This culture is evident across all areas of our business, driven by our staff and through our conversations, and processes. Everyone is encouraged to take responsibility for their learning, supported by their managers and colleagues and this is measured directly as part of our performance management system, as it is key to helping fulfil our people’s ambitions. 

We have established a Learning Culture Group, comprised of employees from across the company. The group leads various initiatives. These include a regular series of speakers on ‘leadership’, activities based around encouraging the development of a growth mindset, knowledge sharing throughout the business and sessions based around ‘lessons learned’.

Learning culture logo

At Martin Currie, we have championed a Learning Culture, actively promoting diversity of thought And collaboration across the organisation.

Building team effectiveness

We place a strong emphasis on developing our people, in order to foster talent, give our people a better understanding of themselves and their colleagues, and ultimately develop high-quality solutions for our clients.


Key facts


Sessions were held between April and December 2017.


Topics included setting goals, overcoming bias, performance coaching and giving and receiving feedback.


Felt actively involved in the sessions.


Said they will use what they learned

In 2017/18, we made a significant investment in our people development, to expand our work on developing a learning environment. We established a Performance Coaching Skills development programme, designed to improve conversations and feedback between employees and their managers. This was run in partnership with Mind Gym (a consultancy which has worked with large companies including Unilever, GSK and Maersk.)1  This involved sessions for all employees to move away from a ‘performance management’ environment (which can be perceived as a top-down approach), to ‘performance coaching’, which is more collaborative. We also employed industry-leading coaches to support the development, effectiveness and delivery of our teams and senior leaders.

Really enjoyed the opportunity to engage with other managers and share experiences and challenges.

We have also expanded the toolkit available to all employees as we further develop our learning culture. This consisted of: 

  • Introducing a system to record our performance and development discussions & feedback, enabling managers and other employees to have better conversations around performance. The Workday system went live on 1 April 2017 and one of its key features was allowing the opportunity to record feedback all year round – rather than just around the time of performance reviews. In the first nine months, 200 pieces of feedback were recorded in the system across all departments. Although feedback will also have been given outside of this system, we hope to increase visibility of this in the future. 
  • An online learning portal (developU) to fulfil regulatory requirements and encourage more online learning. It provides a platform to record continuing professional development (CPD) hours, mandatory compliance activity and online learning.

1 The information provided should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security. It should not be assumed that any of the securities discussed here were, or will prove to be, profitable.

CPD hours

Gave me new insights / perspectives on receiving feedback.

Working better together

We have continued our use of team-effectiveness tools, to help us work together and communicate more effectively. Through detailed questioning, this assesses individuals and teams and encourages staff to explore different personality traits. 

As of the end of the reporting period all permanent employees had taken part in personality profiling and team-effectiveness sessions, via Insights Discovery© and HBDI (Melbourne office only). This work encourages employees, including managers, to think about their own way of working and how they interact with others, ranging from detached analysis, to interactive participation. 

Analysis of the company-wide characteristics showed a dominance of ‘observer’-type personalities. However, there was a range of character types across the business.

Adopting a growth mindset – Going back to school

We have worked closely with Galashiels Academy near Edinburgh since August 2016 as part of our efforts to adopt a growth mindset. 

Headteacher Kevin Ryalls has achieved better outcomes for pupils, seeing a rise in attainment levels during his time at the school. This has come from a focus on developing effective teachers and successful learners and we recognised, despite its differences as an organisation, it was further advanced in its growth-mindset journey. 

Work with the school has included growth-mindset lessons from its teaching staff for our people, while, in return, Martin Currie staff have led development sessions on leadership at the school and paired up with individual senior teachers, developing their own coaching abilities. 

The relationship has gone further, including prize giving (we sponsored an award for the student who had most embodied adopting a growth mindset) and taking part in careers fairs. In 2017/18, final year students were actively involved in design work for the office rebranding and artwork from their students is on the walls in our global offices. Pupils also worked on a campaign highlighting Martin Currie’s whistleblowing policy, which was launched in Summer 2018. The images they produced have also been used to illustrate this report.

Galashiels Academy Poster

Galashiels Academy Pupils also worked on a campaign highlighting Martin Currie’s whistleblowing policy, which were launched in Summer 2018.

Kevin Ryalls


Kevin Ryalls

Headteacher Galashiels Academy

On the face of it, a school and an asset manager don’t appear to have any common ground – how did this partnership work?

Actually, despite the differences between our two organisations, they both face similar challenges. In fact, through our discussions with Martin Currie’s Chief Risk Officer Scott Wallace, it soon became obvious that our ambitions were completely aligned – to foster and develop a learning culture in our organisations, by adopting a growth mindset.

What have been the benefits of the partnership? 

The key advantage, and what makes this partnership unique, is that Martin Currie and Galashiels Academy are both learning together. For example, one of our PE teachers delivered a growth-mindset class to MC employees – enhancing staff’s knowledge, while the teacher’s fee was used to invest in text books for our pupils. At the same time, Martin Currie’s learning group spent time in our classes, while our School Growth Mindset Group was invited to listen to and engage with Matthew Syed, a world leader on the subject.

Our Advanced Higher Graphic Design students were also able to take part in a live example of corporate branding for their final assessment submissions – an opportunity no other school has been able to offer. This provided useful external feedback for the Martin Currie Project team (and ultimately resulted in some of the best designs being incorporated into this report).

What have been your other highlights? 

There have been several exciting activities since August 2016 when this initiative first started. The partnership has been at the heart of how we celebrate achievement. Martin Currie presented trophies for Growth Mindset and Personal Achievement at our academic and wider achievement ceremonies, putting the partnership at the centre. While the company’s strong support of our auction night, making donations and attending the event, has meant extra money to invest in the curriculum and grounds.

Alongside this, our young people have taken up work placements in the company and our graphics classes have been proud to see their pieces of work go on display in Martin Currie’s offices.

What does the future hold? 

The fundamental component of our partnership – a growth-mindset learning culture – remains strong. I’ve delivered two talks to Martin Currie staff as part of its guest speaker series, which were informative to the audience, but have also helped me shape the direction of our school. Most recently, I was invited to experience a visit from renowned speaker Bob Keiller, a former chief executive of Wood Group, which has supported the creation of a new school vision and values.


Academic research has demonstrated that diversity in the workforce is a key enabler to engender higher performance across teams, which we believe will improve investment outcomes for our clients. One of the most important activities in 2017/18 was launching an initiative to address the challenges of improving our diversity – both cognitive and social.

This was started towards the end of 2017, with input from a very large number of Martin Currie employees. We recognise that diversity of thought is hugely beneficial to everything we do. It’s a characteristic often associated with highly innovative organisations – the ability to challenge assumptions and conventional thinking, through actively promoting differing ideas and experiences.

While we believe our equal-opportunities policies are robust and always evolving, we don’t believe they currently go far enough. To address this, our company-wide programme listened to what our people had to say on diversity – how best to encourage it and what the potential barriers may be to improving it. A Diversity Steering Group was established and project groups focused on a number of specific areas – including our approach to mid-career and graduate recruitment, flexible working and maternity & families.

The project groups (amounting to approximately 25% of our total staff) were given the task of assessing our current situation, policies and cultural approach. They looked for external examples of best practice, providing a list of recommendations to then help support diversity at Martin Currie. We aim to develop a rolling, multi-year plan to improve the conditions necessary to foster diversity across the business.

Willie Watt


“Diversity is absolutely vital to make the high-quality business and investment decisions we need to succeed. We have listened to feedback from colleagues, as well as both current and prospective clients, and it is clear that this is an area where we need to improve.

I’ve been pleased to see so many colleagues from across the business – and the globe – getting involved to influence the direction of our company in this vital area, putting so much effort and professionalism into our eight project groups.

The Executive has now agreed a concrete plan of action: on better communicating the support which is already in place; implementing updated policies which could have a significant positive impact on current and prospective employees; and identifying areas, such as recruitment, career development and parental leave, where comprehensive changes can be made.

We know we need to learn and improve in this area, and that we won’t achieve our aims overnight, but I have complete confidence we will succeed. I have set the improvement targets that I expect us to meet, and will regularly report back on our progress.”

One of the most important activities in 2017/18 was launching an initiative to address the challenges of improving our diversity – both cognitive and social.

Future Asset Conference 2017

Finding the next generation

As a founding partner of financial education charity Didasko, we sponsored a one-day conference in Edinburgh, Future AS5ET, aimed at finding the next generation of female finance professionals. The event was aimed at secondary school fifth-year girls, from across Scotland, promoting the fact that gender should not be seen as a barrier to progressing in the finance industry. It was attended by two of Martin Currie’s senior female employees.

We are improving our graduate recruitment process and have introduced a blind CV selection process, as well as encouraging applicants from all backgrounds.

Find more about our graduate and internship programme

Employee engagement

We have an ongoing commitment to listen and communicate with our people. Over the last four years there has been substantial focus on employee engagement and one of our strategic objectives in our business plan for 2017/18 has been ‘Fostering a Clear and Inspiring Culture’.

Engagement survey 

We conduct annual surveys and occasional ‘temperature checks’ on subjects including attitudes towards the company’s culture, employees pride in working for Martin Currie and opinions on whether senior staff are living the firm’s values. There was a good response rate in 2017 from across all locations of the business.

Significant results from the 2017 engagement survey (compared with 2016):


Said they were proud to work for the company (up from 68%).


Believe the company offered them an environment to learn and develop (from 68%).


Were encouraged to view mistakes as an opportunity to learn (up from 71%).


Felt they were listened to and their opinion valued (up from 77%).

The results were positive overall, but there were areas where there is clear room for improvement. For example:


Felt the company has efficient internal processes (almost unchanged from 46%).

Other opportunities for engagement throughout the year:

Staff Conference

Our annual staff conference focused on developing our culture, as well as our business, with particular attention on how to further our work on a growth mindset. This included staff challenging themselves to take on roles they had not carried out before – such as hosting breakout sessions.

Business review

Quarterly business reviews, presented by members of the Executive, have informed all employees about business objectives over the quarter.


Involvement in Legg Mason ‘Town Halls’ which have established closer ties with our parent and other affiliates.


Monthly ‘E-View’ newsletters – an email update on news and views from across the business.


Yammer – an in-house social media platform, with ‘public’ and private groups discussing relevant work themes, encouraging interaction between departments and updating on events.


Internal intranet site (SharePoint) for regular updates and news.


Employee wellbeing is essential to achieving a highly effective workplace and is a theme which has emerged from previous engagement surveys. We have listened to our people and, as a result, have been extremely active in introducing initiatives during 2017/18 and communicating with staff on what is already available to them. These have included:

  • Wellbeing hub. Through our private medical provider, AXA, all employees are able to access advice on healthier living. In 2017/18 this included a ‘Know Your Numbers’ session, allowing staff to calculate their cholesterol levels, BMI and other key health metrics. The hub also allows staff to access medical specialists and includes offers, such as discounted gym membership. Other wellbeing initiatives include free fruit in the office, flu vaccinations and employee assistance.
  • Staff events. Martin Currie’s social committee has an active calendar of events. In 2017/18 this included a Sports day event, family outing, monthly social events held in all our offices, an annual quiz night and other employee-organised events, held in conjunction with the Martin Currie Charity Foundation.
  • Office environment. Work was carried out over the year to improve our office environment, with refurbishment carried out in all locations.