Like a dropped pack of cards, 2020 took the old order of traditional working practices and left them scattered in confusion over the fabric of the working week.
Ever resilient, the financial advice profession quickly organised itself, learning new technical skills to deliver a digital-fuelled response to ‘business as usual’. It was a revolution in the workplace and a serious kick up the pants for advisers and providers who had been slow to heed the benefits that working digitally can bring.
With vaccines promising a return to life as we knew it sometime in 2021, what long-term learnings can we take from the period of Covid-chaos?
Chatting to an adviser friend last week, we discussed ‘retrospective introspection’. Once the immediate rush to get businesses functioning had passed, many advisers found they had more time to reflect on life, themselves, their relationships with friends and family, their business proposition, their staff, their work/life balance and their ambitions.
Having had change thrust upon them – and over a period more prolonged than anyone wanted – is it fair to say that the gears have had a permanent shift for most advisers? Maybe. My fear is that, as restrictions are relaxed, the temptation will be to slip on the old working ways like a pair of well-worn slippers.
Looking at what has changed, what are the key things advisers should keep doing? In my opinion and from what I’ve discussed with advisers recently, there are four. These are:
Work digitally from one place as much as possible: reducing travel frees up more time for business and is better for the planet.
Communicate with clients more frequently using digital channels: webinars, podcasts, social media – all these channels are free and can help you strengthen your client relationships.
Spend time thinking about your business rather than working in it all the time. Ideally about a third of your time should be focused on how you can change/adapt/improve your productivity.
Don’t put off making changes you know will make your business more efficient: be bold and realise that change can be invigorating and give you a new perspective on life.
In the spirit of optimism, let’s avoid visits by the ghosts of Christmas past and focus on the future. It may be different but it can be better. If I’ve learnt anything from my many years working with financial professionals, it’s that they are built to withstand challenges and ready to rise above them for the sake of their clients, their staff and their long-term future.