Employees and self-employed client consultants
As MLP is a knowledge-based service provider, qualified and motivated employees and self-employed client consultants represent the most important foundation for sustainable company success. Continuous development and refinement of personnel work for employees, as well as both winning and training new consultants were therefore also key focuses in 2017.
Low staff turnover rate
The number of employees in the MLP Group declined slightly in the reporting year 2017. As at December 31, 2017, 1,686 employees were working for MLP. Since the value to be determined refers to the average of a year, the previous year's figure only partially reflects effects such as from selling FERI EuroRating. Further reasons for the decrease include a lower number of temporary staff and trainees, a decline at MLPdialog, short-term contracts that have expired, as well as ongoing effects of the efficiency programme from 2016 that had an impact in 2017. At 6.4%, the staff turnover rate at the company HQ remained at a low level in 2017 (2016: 6.3%). The average age of employees at MLP SE, MLP Finanzberatung SE, MLP Banking AG, FERI AG and DOMCURA is currently 43.
The following table shows the development of average employee numbers in the individual business segments over the past few years:
Development of the average number of employees by segment (excluding MLP consultants)
Development programmes for managers and junior staff
To offer our employees even better development opportunities, we launched a modular "management programme" in 2015. This was once again held successfully in the reporting year and open to all employees in management positions. The objective here is to train existing managers, focusing on skills relevant to their duties, while also supporting them in their role with personnel responsibility. In the reporting year, another group successfully completed the Top Talents programme for junior staff, which has been running since 2013 and trains new managers for various business units. The objective of this program is to systematically identify talented junior staff from within the company and then provide these with targeted and sustainable development opportunities for future specialist and management duties within the MLP Group. The programme is set to continue in the future based on a needs-aligned scope and schedule.
Collective bargaining arrangements in the light of the restructuring measures
In the course of the company's change in corporate form from MLP AG to MLP SE, a participation agreement was concluded in 2017 that sets out both corporate and operational employee participation in MLP SE within the scope of legal provisions. Among other things, this agreement contains provisions on the election and composition of the SE works council, its operational jurisdiction, as well as the term in office and role of its respective members. In addition to this, the participation agreement contains provisions on the election and composition, as well as on the term in office of the employees' representatives on the Supervisory Board at MLP SE.
In the course of the demerger of MLP Finanzdienstleistungen AG, a balance of interests and a voluntary social plan was concluded with the MLP works council. Among other things, the balance of interests laid down the collective foundations allowing those employees affected by the spin-off of the brokerage branch of activity to MLP Finanzberatung SE to be transferred to brokerage branch of activity. The employment contracts of the employees assigned to the brokerage business could then be assigned to the new brokerage company, MLP Finanzberatung SE, in the course of the transfer of business. The former joint operation of MLP AG (or MLP SE) and MLP Finanzdienstleistungen AG will continue between the companies MLP SE, MLP Banking AG and MLP Finanzberatung SE following the demerger of MLP Finanzdienstleistungen AG. The company agreements previously in place remain in effect without alteration.
Digitalisation of personnel work successfully continued
The ongoing digitalisation of personnel work remained a focus of activity in 2017. Indeed, we began to work in the last financial year on migrating the old data records from the former personnel file system to the newly introduced digital personnel file. This process is set to continue and also reach its conclusion in the coming financial year. As planned, we also successfully brought payroll back in house on July 1, 2017. The objective here is to make HR processes more effective and efficient through ongoing digitalisation in HR Management.
The digitalisation of payroll accounting was also launched in the reporting year and we established a new remuneration system. For the first time, online-based appraisal meetings with the employees are set to be offered from 2018 on.
Fringe benefits extended for employees
Alongside a general salary increase, we also implemented comprehensive improvements in the field of social and fringe benefits for our employees in the reporting year to further improve our attractiveness as an employer and honour the work done by our employees. Among other things, the package includes significantly upgraded group accident insurance, introduction of death benefits, employee-financed occupational health insurance without a health check, as well as additional occupational pension provision offers.
Consultant turnover at a low level
As at December 31, 2017, MLP operated 145 representative offices with a total of 1,909 consultants (2016: 1,940), who work as self-employed commercial agents. The average age of consultants is currently 44. The loyalty displayed by existing consultants remains very pleasing, as underlined by our employee turnover rate. This figure was 9.59% in 2017 – and thereby below the target variable of around 10%.
Progress in the process for recruiting new consultants
As in the previous year, acquiring new consultants continued to be a key topic in the reporting year. The new further training allowance introduced in 2015 for those wishing to begin a career as a client consultant has established itself as an important concept within our recruiting initiative. At the same time, we completed the announced realignment of the university segment. In the course of this process, MLP appointed an additional divisional board member on March 1, 2017 who now brings together all of MLP's activities in the university segment across all locations. The objective here is to further accelerate the acquisition of new clients and young consultants and to further increase our presence at universities. As at December 2017, a total of 65 university team leaders are active in the most important university cities, focusing on acquiring and training new consultants in the university segment. We are keen to expand these activities further in 2018.
Internship programme and dual study programme established
To learn about the everyday working life of an MLP consultant, 74 high-school graduates and students took the opportunity to participate in our internship programme in the reporting year. The Sales dual study course, which was launched in 2013 and helps students at the representative offices prepare for a career as consultant, represents another successful recruiting instrument. To cater to the requirements of the newly established university segment, we are currently further developing the curriculum contents. At the end of the year, 14 dual study students and 26 trainees were active at the representative offices (previous year: 21 and 28), while 18 dual study students and 17 trainees were working at the company HQ (previous year: 23 and 20).
Comprehensive range of training offers are the key to success
As a consultancy covering all financial questions and issues, MLP operates in a complex and constantly changing market and competitive environment and must be capable of repeatedly convincing its clientele of the benefits associated with its services.
A high-quality range of training courses represent an indispensable prerequisite in achieving this. At the heart of the development of the training programme for consultants, branch managers and the heads of university teams lies the MLP Corporate University (CU) which is based in Wiesloch. The CU has already been accredited by the Financial Planning Standards Board Deutschland e.V. (FPSB Deutschland) for training to the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) standard since 2012. Since this time, more than 137 consultants have successfully gained their CFP certification and further consultants are already preparing for this.
Following an extensive certification process, in 2013 it was the first corporate university to be awarded the "Certified Corporate University" international seal of approval from the Foundation for International Business Administration Accreditation (FIBAA). The training offered by the CU therefore complies with the international requirements of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), which simplifies cooperation with state universities.
Financial Planning master's programme established
The cooperative programme of study we launched in 2016 has now established itself. The Corporate University has been collaborating with the School of Management and Innovation at the Steinbeis University in Berlin (Steinbeis-SMI) since September 2016 to offer an MSc course in Financial Planning and Management. The extra-occupational master's course is aimed both at experienced MLP consultants as well as new consultants who are working for MLP after completing their bachelor's degree. The degree course therefore offers our consultants an additional opportunity to gain further qualifications – which also makes it a valuable recruiting instrument.
Comprehensive training programme
Numerous seminars and events serve to underline the scope of our training offer. In 2017 around 20,700 training days (including online seminars) were held at the CU. Alongside specialist and consulting topics, one key focus of training was the new Budget guide consulting application, which we have been gradually establishing since 2016. Since early 2017, the CU has also been offering a Specialist in retirement planning certificate of advanced training in cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern.
Preparation for the EU Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD), which is coming into force in 2018, was another focus topic. We have taken various steps to comply with the regulatory requirements of the IDD on the topic of further training, including modularising our further training offer and introducing a points system.
In the summer of 2017, all consultants had the opportunity to learn about the latest specialist and consulting topics in various modules during two "financial planning power days". The event was also open to external participants. In the course of realigning this division in the reporting year, the CU also adapted its training for new consultants in the university segment.
Total expenditure for our comprehensive qualification and training programme amounted to € 6.9 million in the past financial year and was thus at the same level as the previous year.
Thanks to all employees and consultants
The Executive Board would like to take this opportunity to express its sincere thanks to all employees and consultants for the trust, cooperation and excellent commitment they showed in the past financial year. We would also like to thank the works council for its constructive collaboration. The key now is to maintain this open and responsible dialogue as effectively as possible in future for the benefit of all employees. The Executive Board would also like to thank the numerous consultants, branch managers and university team leaders for their commitment in a large number of forums and workgroups.