Sunday Times List 2016 Awards Ceremony

First Response Finance Ltd

THIS CONSUMER FINANCE provider, founded in 1997, lends to people with poor credit ratings to help them buy a car, van or motorbike.

Staff are able to take part in voluntary activities during work time, and the company will match any money they raise. Among the good causes that benefit is the nominated charity, Magic Breakfast,
which provides free morning meals to pupils who would otherwise go without.

As well as generating funds, employees donate time, taking part in breakfast clubs twice a week at a local primary school. People say First Response Finance is driven by more than profit and budgetary concerns (an 87% positive score, the top result), and agree that the business puts plenty back into the local community (72%).

The company’s 270-strong workforce is based at the head office in Nottingham and two sites in Leigh, near Manchester, and Glasgow. They believe they can make a valuable contribution to the firm’s success (88% positive) and wouldn’t leave tomorrow if they had another job (83%).

Staff are offered the chance to join a “leadership academy”, a two-year programme that enables them to develop the necessary management skills and helps the company fulfil its stated policy of promoting employees from within.

Flexible working is available, and last year First Response Finance also introduced “care days” — paid time off for employees to attend hospital appointments with loved ones or to look after family members.

Colleagues agree they do not spend too much time working (70%) and say that the company’s managers take an active interest in their wellbeing (85%).

Mission / Vision

Mission: Providing straightforward financial solutions for today and tomorrow. Vision: By 2019, we will be recognised as an undisputed leader amongst the UK finance providers, underpinned by world class People, Service & Profit.

Best Workplace Factors

My Manager

A Leadership development programme has been developed in collaboration with an external training company that focuses on theoretical skills and how to practically implement these skills through observation, mentoring and structured sign offs. They feel that this is an innovative and unique approach that gives leaders and future leaders the best possible tools to run their teams in a consistent and value driven way. Following last year’s Leadership Day, they have also implemented a structure for development of the Leadership team by running several 'master class sessions' throughout the year, covering consistent Leadership topics. These sessions are always mixed, encouraging Leaders from different departments and sites to interact, share and learn together and to give them a common topic, such as 'Building High Performing' to strive to perfect as a team. They do not burden their leaders with ensuring targets are met, instead they provide them with training and coaching to get the best out of people by improving the “system” and giving them empowerment to make differences. They encourage leaders to make brave decisions and make mistakes. They do not try to constrain their leaders and they encourage individuality and diversity.


First Response are aware that their employees have full, busy and often demanding lifestyles away from the work place. In an attempt to ease any external pressures employees face they have a number of paid days available per employee which can be used to help with finding a healthy work-life balance. This benefit has been introduced this year and employees that have benefited from them have used them for reasons including attending hospital appointments with family members and caring for their children when they have been ill. Prior to the Care Days being introduced employees may not have attended such appointments with family members but then have been unable to concentrate on their work whilst waiting for an update. Parents of children that are poorly would have still been off but may have worried about the financial implications of not being paid for that time. The Care Days are aimed at reducing these pressures and acknowledging that the company’s support will enable them to perform to the best of their abilities as they are not worrying about what they may have been unable to do in their personal life. They also appreciate that mornings can be a rush for people due to traffic or the school run. To save employees time and allow them to have a calm start to the day they offer breakfasts for a charity donation.

My Company

The values at First Response Finance are their foundation and they are referred back to in any decision making process. They are central to the recruitment and selection process - with discussions about how candidates have displayed the values throughout the various activities during the assessment day. Often the activities will be selected based on how they will enable the candidates to display their own values. Once employed at First Response each employee participates in an induction process which includes a dedicated session which covers the company values, purpose and operating principles, this takes an approach which includes a variety of methods to create a fun and interactive session. Some areas of the business take that one step further; once the new employee has the theory they will sit in the relevant department, with team members and observe and document so they see the values being displayed in a real environment. Don Brough (CEO) and Jonathan Pollard (Director of Operations) regularly visit all office locations and give an update on company performance. The vision statement is broken down and they have clear bench-marking in order to track their progress in relation to achieving their goal. It is motivating for all to see how they are doing in each of the People, Service and Profit measures. As the vision statement is broken down it is much easier for people to see that it can be achieved rather than just a statement that is forgotten once the Company update is over.


What our clients say

Liz Pillans

Kenwood and Delonghi

Opening Quotemarks

The partnership that we've had with Best Companies has had a massive impact on the culture of the organisation and I think we have really safeguarded our future. We can also see that there are lots of other areas we could improve in and I think with the help of Best Companies supporting us with the feedback that we get, it's really going to reinforce what we're doing and help us in achieving the goals that we need to achieve as a business.

Closing Quotemarks

Eamon Fitzgerald

Naked Wines

Opening Quotemarks

What differentiates Best Companies is the reputation and trust. It's the number one employee engagement survey

Closing Quotemarks

Will Leonelli

Flight Centre

Opening Quotemarks

We believe participation in the programme helps us to attract quality staff who are looking for a long, progressive career rather than just a job, as well as attract suppliers who want to work with us and customers who want to buy from us. Our employees feel engaged and inspired by what they do and the Best Companies programme is pivotal in enabling us to celebrate our successes whilst also recognising tangible goals for the future so that we can continue to be one of the UK’s best places to work.

Closing Quotemarks

Matthew Sanders

Brookfield Rose

Opening Quotemarks

Brookfield Rose has worked with Best Companies for five consecutive years. We believe happy employees make for happy clients, and Best Companies provides both a measure and guidance, in order for us to continuously improve our service offering, and look after our people.

Closing Quotemarks

Twitter talk

34% of all employees who took part in the 2016 survey are excited about where their organisation is going #research #bestcompanies

14 hours ago

@localcareforce sounds both intriguing and exciting - we can't wait to see what you have planned. Keep us updated #BestCompaniesDay

17 hours ago

Follow us on twitter