Interview with Paul Farley, group compensation and benefits director at Lloyds TSB

Paul Farley, group compensation and benefits director at Lloyds TSB, has made a conscious decision to move between sectors in a bid to broaden his experience

Paul Farley, group compensation and benefits director at Lloyds TSB, didn’t set out to become a reward specialist. After gaining a degree in French and German, he looked for a path to give him a professional qualification to allow him to embark on a business career. He found the answer in British Aerospace’s company secretarial graduate trainee programme and, once he became a qualified chartered company secretary, discovered that looking after pay and benefits for senior executives fell within his remit.

“Having looked after the terms and conditions for the most senior staff, it was a natural move to then become a remuneration professional by way of moving into the HR function,” Farley explains.

In 1991, after two years on the trainee programme and four years as assistant company secretary, Farley become personnel manager, remuneration and benefits for the company’s military aircraft division. He then worked his way up to become head of HR, corporate change, going on to lead the cultural change programme when British Aerospace and Marconi Electronic Systems merged in 1999 to become BAE Systems.

In 2000, Farley moved to the BBC, where he spent four years, firstly as head of compensation and benefits before becoming HR director, reward and commercial businesses. He then moved to his current position at Lloyds TSB as group compensation and benefits director.

Farley explains that switching between industry sectors was a conscious decision. “Something I have done very deliberately is move between different sectors. [It] is a way to give yourself a stretch by looking at a different sector and applying experience and learning in a [new] context.”

He explains that BBC staff, for example, had a sense of privilege at being able to work for the organisation. “At Lloyds TSB there is a different set of challenges. There are four or five other major banks in the UK, [so] it isn’t about the uniqueness of your organisation, it is about differentiating the totality of the employment proposition,” he says.

Farley’s biggest achievement to date at the high-street bank has been revamping its flexible benefits scheme, Flavours, and developing a communications strategy targeting different segments of the workforce. As a result, take-up has increased from 50% to 60% and his team won the ‘Communications strategy of the year’ category at last year’s Employee Benefits Awards.

Throughout his career, Farley’s perseverance and sense of belief in himself has been an important factor when faced with issues that need to be dealt with and overcome. “Lots of people assume that things can’t be done, so it is [about] recognising that there will be governance issues, regulatory issues [and] compliance issues, but [it is about] having a fundamental belief that you want to get to a particular end state [and] just being clear that those issues need to be dealt with, not ignored,” he says.

This same approach enabled Farley to achieve his ambition of learning to windsurf. “It not something you instantly pick up. [I needed] the perseverance to do it in the cold and the wet for hours on end to crack it.”

This self-belief is surely something he will apply when tackling his main challenge for the year ahead – making staff more aware of the total value of their benefits package.

Lloyds TSB already issues annual reward statements, but Farley admits there is still some way to go. “One of the priorities for 2007 is having a much more joined-up approach to our offering.”

Looking to the future, Farley says he has no professional ambitions left to fulfil, but adds: “I want to continue to get satisfaction and enjoyment from the job I do.”

Curriculum Vitae

2004-present: Lloyds TSB Group – compensation and benefits director
2000-2004: BBC – head of compensation and benefits, followed by HR director, reward and commercial businesses
1986-2000: British Aerospace/BAE Systems After starting as a company secretarial graduate trainee, Farley held a number of roles including assistant company secretary and remuneration manager, culminating in a position as head of HR, corporate change, after British Aerospace merged with Marconi.


What does the future hold for reward?
There are very different expectations of reward professionals compared to ten years ago and I am sure these will be different in another ten years. It is about being responsive to those opportunities.

What is your average day like?
It is about being prepared for the unexpected. Things happen which can be anything from the need to support a senior appointment [to] something else that was unplanned.

What would you change about yourself?
There are always things you can improve. Probably being as demanding on other people as I am on myself.

What is your favourite benefit?
Sharesave is great. When I joined the bank, one of the first things I did was to join the next offer. It was a positive part of coming out of the BBC and [moving] to an organisation that could offer share plans.