7IM is an ambitious investment management business that helps individuals, their families and advisers to manage their capital to meet their financial needs. Having grown rapidly from seven founders, they now employ in the region of 400 people with a subsidiary wealth management business that employs another 160. They replaced their previous HR system (HRIS) and paper-based appraisal process with Actus in January 2020. As a FCA regulated firm they benefitted from the addition of Actus Comply, the purpose built SMCR module and continue to utilise additional Actus functionality from 360 to learning management. This case study is based on a conversation with Chief People Officer Kate Hughes and Senior People and Culture Partner Colanne Michaelides.

How did the partnership with Actus start?

In 2019 7IM were developing their annual people and culture strategy and identified that the existing HRIS was one of the barriers to success. It wasn’t easy to work, their supplier responsiveness was poor and they found managing it extremely time consuming. At the same time, they wanted to improve the paper-based appraisal process, but they thought they were stuck with the HRIS because it was linked to their payroll provider. A Senior Business Partners researched the market for alternatives and Actus emerged as an option. The business was really excited to see that one solution could meet so many of their current and future needs and integrate with their payroll, removing their current supplier dependency. Kate explained:

“It was a bit like a dream come true, because Actus seemed to offer all the functionality we needed and more, from appraisal to an HR database and even compliance. They offered clear, reasonable pricing, especially in comparison to the other systems and importantly, they could and did meet our ambitious timescales”

Implementation at pace

One of the other aspects that attracted 7IM to Actus was the cost and time effective approach to implementation. Many of the other systems were quoting 6-9 months to roll out and 7IM needed to get their appraisal process up and running within six weeks of signing the contract!

Kate emphasised how Swagata Mukherjee from the Actus Customer Success team had been pivotal in helping to achieve that challenge by taking control of the implementation, asking “What’s your most pressing need; what is it that you want this to achieve first?” and providing invaluable support and guidance during implementation and beyond.

Ongoing partnership

As simply as that the partnership was established enabling 7IM to start by rolling out the appraisal and HR database including full training. This was followed by Actus Comply (and continued onto 360 degree feedback with the current and future focus progressing to Learning Management.

Colanne explained how they were expanding the use of Actus further to support the management of  continuing professional development and diagnosis of training needs.

“It’s as if Actus are anticipating our needs, we are moving our focus to CPD next along with individual development and career plans and already we can see how the Actus functionality, particularly the reporting can help us”

Exceptional user uptake

The whole HR team at 7IM has embraced the system, and the partnership with Actus which has resulted in system usage rates in the region of 82% or higher. Swagata Mukherjee, Head of Customer Success at Actus believes that the sponsorship and commitment from the 7IM HR team has played a major part in their success as they have fully engaged with all the functionality, training and other support. Kate continued to explain how the system’s ease of use has also been a huge contributing factor.

“Colleagues engage with the system and the usage is high because the system is user friendly, intuitive and has everything in one place. We only ever get positive feedback about the system and how easy it is to use. I think what happens when we roll out a new module is the users trust the system, know it is going to make their life easier and engage with it”

Kate explained how moving to Actus to carry out the appraisal process made it far more time effective which made managers more inclined to have more meaningful conversations. Taking it from a labour intensive 48 hours of going backwards and forwards to a streamlined 45-minute conversation meant that the process was more engaging rather than painful and drawn out. This has made people more willing to talk quarterly.

“We actually achieve 100% completion of our quarterly reviews. I can’t believe there’s many businesses that achieve this; it’s the system that makes it possible; the efficiency and the ease of use”


Supporting regulation

As a regulated firm, it is vital to have information properly recorded and easily accessible, especially when the auditors come in. Having real-time reporting to hand is a critically important aspect of the system when it comes to evidencing full compliance and the fact that all aspects of the SMCR regulation can be managed through one system makes it easy for HR and Compliance to work together to support the business.

Colanne outlined how responsive the Actus customer success team had been when they rolled out the compliance functionality and some users were finding it difficult.

“We discussed a user challenge with the Actus team and literally overnight a whole new SMCR tab was created. Any problems were over and done with; there was no delay, and all the stakeholders were so impressed at the speed of service”

Strategic value

There’s no doubt that 7IM and Actus have established an excellent working partnership that both sides find rewarding. This two-way relationship means that Actus can underpin the ongoing People and Culture vision, whether this involves customisation of existing functionality, utilising new features or collaborating with the Actus Consultants. Ultimately it is a highly synergistic relationship.

“We do things slightly differently at 7IM, we started as a small firm and we like to work with businesses that share our values and can be agile, flexible and responsive. It just makes for stronger relationships with better understanding”

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