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For all enquiries regarding speaking, sponsoring and attending this conference contact:

Anastasia Zardili

Email: anastasiaz@marcusevanscy.com 
Telephone: +357 2284 9390
Fax: +357 22 849 394

More Information

22nd Annual
Financial Sector Compensation and Benefits

20th – 22nd May 2019
London Marriott Hotel Canary Wharf, UK

What are the benefits of the new reward system of KBC Bank?

Rapidly changing client expectations and digital transformation hold many challenges in store for the financial sector in the years to come. KBC is preparing for this by continuously investing in innovation and an agile, client-oriented organization that is based on sustainable growth.

We want to reward each employee's contribution in a more targeted way, while at the same time keeping costs under control. To successfully meet these challenges, we needed a new wage policy.

We strengthened the basic principle of 'reward for work' and put a number of new accents in place to make the salary package more motivating. Furthermore, the new policy enabled us to offer a response to trends within society such as the growing demand among staff for individualized remuneration packages by means of a cafeteria plan, the rising retirement age and attendant need for flexible career paths, plus the shift towards pay linked more to input and less to age.

We aimed for a more forward-looking remuneration system by redistributing pay across the various wage components.

For fixed pay, the new reward policy focuses, besides experience, more on differentiation according to the real contribution made by an employee and the weight of the workload. By this, the pay gap  between younger and older staff, even when they have the same degree of responsibility, will gradually diminish.

The annual system of granting individual variable pay, linked to a performance score, was perceived as neither motivating nor encouraging. Therefore, this annual system was abandoned last year, and as such the new reward policy was no longer linked to scores. The budget for individual variable pay was reallocated to non-statutory, tax-advantageous benefits and pension schemes. Exceptional performances can still result in an exceptional bonus in the future.

We opted for one wage system for both administrative and managerial staff, in order to further strengthen transparency and make our reward policy more simple and fair. A number of differences between administrative and managerial staff have been removed.

In order to be transparent and to offer a competitive wage, we now work with salary brackets. These brackets reflect the degree of responsibility taken by the employee. Each bracket has a salary range in euros that is in line with the market, with a median value set by the market and an upper and lower limit, and without any influence being exerted by seniority. Staff are able to clearly see where they are situated within the salary range. Managers now have more opportunities to differentiate annual salary increases on the basis of the individual contribution made by each employee. As a way of recognizing increased experience in the job, staff automatically receive an annual salary increase to just above the median value. As a result, new members of staff at a certain job level will grow more quickly in their career. What's more, managers are given more budgetary scope than they currently have to give additional salary increases or award promotions.

In response to the need to work longer and the rising requirement for flexible career paths, we invested in an improved formula under which contributions are paid into the employer-funded supplementary pension scheme.

Employees appreciate the possibility that they can exchange part of their fixed pay for benefits that add more value to them, therefore we extended the cafeteria plan to include – in addition to lease cars and bikes – items such as smartphones to support our digital strategy, extra holidays and more comprehensive conditions for lease cars.

What challenges did KBC Bank face during its journey towards the implementation of a new reward system?

End of June 2017, an agreement on the new reward policy was signed with the trade unions. That agreement had to be translated into practice, which obviously would need some throughput time. We opted from the beginning for an open, transparent communication to all employees, explaining the headlines of the new policy. We kept the communication line open, meaning that along the implementation way, gradually more details were shared with the employees. Balancing the combination of an open continuous communication approach, and at the same time keep on focusing on implementation, was a risky challenge. Did we communicate enough details – versus – did we now overcommunicate…? Never a right answer when it comes to communication.

We’ve created an internal website where all information was bundled on 1 page, available for all employees. During implementation, as more detailed information was worked out, this webpage was gradually completed. An open discussion forum supported colleagues to share their questions and concerns.

Although we’ve used a transparent communication approach from the beginning, there were some disbelievers. And there still are. The feeling of ‘what are you not telling us’ sometimes influences choices employees can make (switching to a contribution pension plan, using the cafeteria plan,…).

Switching to a reward policy which is based on external benchmarking, was one of the most challenged topics, not only by the disbelievers. Being a Bank-Insurer, obviously there are more functions present than credit-advisor or insurance-experts. Functions within the IT sector, Asset Management,  Risk, Compliance, Markets…. are also being benched towards the same median on the comparable level. As the usage of a uniform system within the whole company is a non-negotiable, extra effort was (and still is) put in providing evidence to employees & managers.

Implementing a new reward system in only a couple months, required a huge effort of all involved parties. Working out the details of the policy, looking for technical and legal solutions, cooperating with external parties, depending on agreements of governmental parties… and at the same time insuring all stakeholders were involved in all decision bodies… It took some magic, some good fortune, but most of all enthusiastic, loyal and go-getters KBC colleagues to bring the implementation of the new reward policy to a good end.

What advice would you offer to companies that are in the process of changing their reward system?

An obvious advice: envision first what you would like to accomplish with your new reward system (& why), what are the most important elements in your reward (& HR) strategy. Throughout the next phases of implementation, always work towards these pillars.

In KBC, the headlines of the reward policy were established in full cooperation with all involved parties: management, employees and also the trade unions and social partners were invited to help shaping the new way of rewarding within KBC. By this, we maximized the change-support in the acceptance process for the employees. Social partners and management took it upon themselves to help out in the communication towards the employees.

Opting for continuous communication & transparency was a well discussed decision. Being transparent brings along some disadvantages (you really have to explain all the details), but it contributes to building trust with the employees. Continuous communication is a balanced exercise (when will colleagues have enough and stop listening/reading…?), which requires a lot of effort, but it prevents a big bang communication (where things get lost in translation) at the effective start of the new policy.

In which aspect of the reward system did KBC Bank pay particular attention to?

For KBC it was important to establish a performance based, fair, transparent and balanced reward policy, realized in a cost neutral way. 

The new reward system is uniform for administrative and managerial staff, based on external benchmarking, and well in the fixed pay, as in the variable pay, performance based rewarding is integrated in the new system. 

What would you like to achieve by attending the Financial Sector Compensation and Benefits meeting?

Although we’ve just implemented a new reward policy, the outside world keeps on changing faster and faster. Meaning that we are aware that we have to keep looking out for new trends, inspiring testimonials from peers and other companies. So I’m keeping space in my suitcase for new ideas and challenges to take back home.

An interview with:

Tilly De Keyser

Head of Reward and International Mobility

Compensation and benefits is one of the top priority areas within any financial institution. The correct management of this department will not only ensure compliance with all necessary regulation, but also drastically improve the recruitment and retention of staff through correct compensation structures while limiting the impact of excessive risk taking activities firm wide. This marcus evans event will focus on ensuring banks are successfully balancing the need to stay on top of and properly manage the regulation in this space, while improving transparency and fairness of pay across the institution to stay competitive in this market space.

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About the conference

Designing and implementing a new reward system at KBC Bank

We would be delighted to provide you with more information on the conference agenda.  Please fill in your details below and we will be in touch.

Tilly De Keyser graduated as Biological Engineer, specialized in UV clarification of tabwater. She had had the pleasure of working at KBC for 22 years already, taking on different roles within ICT, Credit Department and the Organizational Department (strategic and organizational project). Since the end of 2014, Tilly has been a proud member of Corporate HR in KBC, being responsible for succession management (for senior management), setting up a strategical project for workforce of the future, and since May 2017 Head of Reward & International Mobility. Reward & International mobility is responsible for the continuous update and maintenance of a fair, motivating & competitive salary package within KBC. And for the support & guidance in all international employment. 

To view the Conference Agenda, click here