Three wise men and women

Our industry is full of inspiring individuals and barely a day goes by without some new nuggets of wisdom being shared. As we approach the end of the year, I set myself the (very hard) task of selecting only three people whose wise words have resonated most with me from among multiple webinars I’ve watched during 2020. Below are my brief notes from each one.

  1. Paul Feeney, CEO, Quilter on mental health

Paul’s epiphany came because it was “harder to continue to live hiding my mental health issues than it was to be brave enough to open up about them”.

As CEO of a major financial corporation, Paul’s willingness to address the topic of mental health shows both courage and supreme leadership.

Be wise to mental health:

  • There is no shame in mental health issues, they are out of an individual’s control.
  • Mental health issues are unique to each individual. They can also have a wider impact on family and colleagues.
  • Mental health issues do not necessarily prevent someone from doing their job well. A lot of people excel in spite of their mental health issues.
  • The WHO has already flagged that the knock-on effects from Covid-19 lockdowns is set to create a second pandemic of mental health, especially in the UK.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of taking a holiday during lockdown. This is especially true because there are no natural breaks in the day any more. You used to get downtime on your commute, travelling between meetings, catching up with colleagues etc but now you bounce from call to call with no break in between.

How employers/colleagues can help with mental health:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask people how they are.
  • Companies need to be consistent. It is no good to tell your staff to look after your clients if you’re not prepared to look after your staff.
  • Recovery from mental health issues is not linear, can feel completely different each day, employers need to realise that and be sympathetic to it.
  1. Brett Davidson, FP Advanceon how to focus on the things that matter

Brett is a coach for advisers and teaches them how to turbo-charge their business. A lot of what he writes is relevant for any business so I often read his updates. In particular I found his “Get Sh!t Done” process invaluable.

My summary of Brett’s top tips is listed below. You can sign up for a more comprehensive summary by clicking here (it’s free).

  • Get everything you need to do in one place. He argues that ‘to-do’ lists hide in multiple places – in your inbox, in a word document, on your phone, in a notebook, on a Post-It note etc. Find them all and then create one master list.
  • Accept that you can’t do everything. Every day/week/quarter you should be thinking “What is going to make the biggest impact on my business?”. Everything else should be delegated, deferred or rejected.
  • Set aside time to plan your week (60 minutes weekly) and to plan your day (30 minutes daily). This makes a massive difference to the quality of your output.
  • Identify your top three priorities for each week. And then identify the one action that will make the most difference to your business, he calls it your “game-changer”. Sharing this with your team creates accountability and a wider understanding of your firm’s priorities.
  • Put every task in your calendar. A) It materially increases the chance of it getting done. B) It teaches you if you’re good at estimating the time required.
  • Your senior management team should meet for 90 minutes every week. It sounds like a big commitment but you will save two to three times that time from the increase in effectiveness and accountability.
  1. Julia Dreblow from SRI Services

Julia has been talking about the importance of ESG in investing for the last 20 years. Sadly, it seems that most of the world has only started listening in the past 12 months.

She uses two channels to spread the word on ESG; SRI Services and FundEcomarket as well as writing a newsletter that flags upcoming events and key news in the sector.

She also has a “Find an Adviser” section on her FundEcoMarket website that allows end-clients to find advisers who can help them invest with an ESG focus. I’m delighted to see that a number of the adviser firms we partner with are on that list but I’m amazed that only 30 advisers are currently listed.

Finally, I’m excited to see the launch of Julia’s Dialshifter project next year. Her aim is to “inform the whole investment chain” (fund manager, DFM, adviser, retail investor) and act as a conduit to connect interested people to high quality providers.

Before you ask, I’m not on a retainer from Julia! I flag this because I firmly believe that ESG is not a passing fad, this is a core investment building block that is here to stay. And as the wealth shifts between generations, I think this will become a default investment selection for many millennial investors. If you’re not ready to meet that demand I would recommend getting up to speed as soon as possible. Get in touch with Julia direct or read our white paper “Everything you wanted to know about ESG but were afraid to ask”.