Experience of the financial sector has given Ricky D’Ash, remuneration specialist at Equity Insurance Group, an eye for balancing the budget while delivering quality benefits
Like many others in his field, Ricky D’Ash, remuneration specialist at Equity Insurance Group, did not originally plan a career in reward. In fact, he started outside the benefits industry altogether, as a restaurant manager in 1986. D’Ash then moved into hotels before leaving the hospitality industry behind him. “I enjoyed hotels, but the money just was not there, so I joined Woolwich, initially as a cashier in 1993.”
Here, D’Ash’s talent was soon spotted and he rose up the ranks to become a relief branch manager and trainer before, in 1997, becoming an HR manager with Woolwich Direct, the company’s call-centre business. It was from there that he moved into the world of benefits.
“I liked the variety and the calculations that are sometimes required, such as looking into things, how you can get more for the money,” he says.
Balancing a budget
D’Ash says he relishes the challenge of balancing a budget while offering solid perks for staff. “I want to get the best for the company, but also look at what is best for employees,” he says.
From the bank, he moved to Global Home Loans, a joint venture with Woolwich where he says he developed some of the reward principles that have served him well to this day.
From there, and following Woolwich’s acquisition by Barclays, D’Ash became a reward consultant in 2001, responsible for 30,000 staff. It was there he met one of his role models, Catherine Redmond, then Barclays’ benefits manager but now chief operating officer of the Barclays UK retirement fund.
D’Ash says of Redmond: “I like her style: very much nose to the ground, very knowledgeable. There was not much she did not know.”
Total reward framework
Next, D’Ash moved to a specialist reward practice within Barclays, where he project-managed the creation of a total reward framework and implemented several new voluntary benefits. He explains this project was delivered on time and under budget, and feedback showed a more than 90% positive reaction among employees. It remains one of his proudest achievements to date.
But D’Ash is not content to rest on his laurels. Since moving to his current role at Equity Insurance Group late last year, he has implemented a number of initiatives. “I introduced a share incentive plan in the company for the first time, and we have just launched a salary sacrifice car parking scheme as well,” he says.
D’Ash quips that his current job title is somewhat understated. “It is basically compensation and benefits manager for the UK,” he says.
Away from work, D’Ash continues to be active, maintaining a fitness regime that includes cycling and yoga.
Looking to the future, D’Ash sees problems ahead for benefits professionals, particularly in the pensions arena. “I think there is a pensions timebomb waiting to go off in the UK generally,” he says. “With so many final salary schemes closing to future accrual, there is still a huge amount of cost involved through changing legislation, and employers still have to pay consultants.”
Whatever the future holds, D’Ash is sure to be at the vanguard of any big changes, both within his own company and across the UK benefits sector.
- 2009-present renumeration specialist, Equity Insurance Group
- 2006-2009 global reward consultant, Unisys
- 2005-2006 reward consultant, Prudential
- 2004-2005 benefits consultant, Woolwich
- 2003-2004 consultant, HR specialist practice, Barclays
Do you read any management books?
Yes, I do keep a couple on my bookshelf. I like the writing of Michael Armstrong and Helen Murlis. I find them very engaging.
Who are your role models?
Apart from Catherine Redmond, I also admire Andy Lister at Grass Roots Group. He is very pragmatic, very enthusiastic and, if you give him a problem, he comes back with a solution quite quickly.
What would you like to achieve within reward?
I do not have a fixed, longer-term ambition. If I feel the need to move, I tend to find a job from among my own networking group.