The coronavirus pandemic – with enormous speed and significance – has impacted almost every aspect of our lives in the UK in recent days and weeks.
Early last week, huge numbers of us began working from home indefinitely, against the broader backdrop of being increasingly told to avoid trips outside and contact with others. The magnitude of everything currently happening may only really resonate further down the line, once we have had time to absorb this experience of Covid-19.
In the more immediate term, life and work, of course, must continue as best it can. There is solace and reassurance, in a sense, that we are all in a similar boat, right now. We are all sharing and experiencing the same circumstances and problems.
What has been the initial impact on one financial advice firm, FB Wealth Management in North East Lincolnshire? Here, Tom Saleh [pictured below speaking at our 2020 Manchester Conference], an adviser with FB Wealth, kindly takes the time to share his thoughts and experience of all of this.
Please note: the current Covid-19 crisis is, of course, fast-moving on many levels. All Tom’s comments were correct and given in good faith at the time of interview [19 March].
How is the crisis disrupting you and your firm?
I am proud to say that the disruption at our firm has been minimal. We all have the capability to work from home thanks to our remote desktop set-up. The only real problem we are facing is how to handle the post that comes into the office daily, although this can be resolved quite easily. The other major change in how we are working is a shift away from face-to-face meetings, which we have decided to stop almost entirely – to an internet-based approach through conference or video calling. The clients I have corresponded with have been very happy to communicate through these means and I get the impression that once we have overcome the pandemic, we will be seeing clients more regularly virtually.
Have you ever experienced anything like this before?
Never – the current situation is unprecedented in many ways. It is entirely unique and nothing like the financial crash of 2008. We are still unsure exactly how this will affect markets going forward, which companies are going to fail as a result and more worryingly, how long the virus will continue to spread before it is controlled.
What conversations have you been having with clients, worried about their portfolio?
Fortunately, we have been on the front foot with clients, sending them regular updates over the last three weeks since the coronavirus pandemic began to evolve rapidly. This, coupled with telephone conversations and the loss depreciation reports we have been sending out, has kept clients reliably informed. The media has also played a part in this, as it’s hard to get away from any market news on new channels at the moment – so, unlike the crash of 2008, clients understand the reasons behind the significant falls over the past few weeks and are likely to be aware as soon as we are.
How is Dynamic Planner helping your firm, at the moment?
We are trying to continue business as normal, albeit not necessarily in the office or face-to-face with clients. Dynamic Planner embraces technology, so we can still access the features we use day-to-day as normal. We can still conduct annual reviews over the phone, using Dynamic Planner’s client report pack, which saves sending numerous documents to clients, which can be difficult to talk through. The reports in Dynamic Planner are so clear and easy for clients to follow.
Read our market commentary from Chris Jones, Proposition Director and Abhi Chatterjee, Chief Investment Strategist here