As England and Scotland entered their third national lockdowns this week, joining Wales which has been in lockdown since 20 December, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced new measures aimed at propping up UK businesses struggling during the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, Financial Planning businesses we spoke to continue to thrive during lockdown, writes Kat Mitchell. This week we have been asking Financial Planners about what the latest lockdowns mean for them and their businesses.
Take part in our poll below and then read on to see what leading Financial Planners think about Lockdown 3.0.
In terms of Financial Planning new business, are you looking forward to 2021?— Financial Planning Today website (@_FPToday) January 6, 2021
Four Financial Planners share their thoughts:
Keith Churchouse FPFS – Chartered Financial Planner, Chapters Financial
"You know the drill!
"Now entering the third lockdown, the team are well versed on the process of locking down. Team calls and emails have been the order of the day this morning to ensure all are well, attuned to mutual requirements, and set for their individual January / February needs. As with any communication, listening, understanding, and adjusting are all key to our mutual future success. Furlough is an option, but only where really necessary, and not a preference many team members desire. We have re-instated the learning from the last lockdowns for working processes (home working), and this ran very efficiently on both occasions last year. We have also updated our website to confirm our lockdown connectivity to clients, enquirers, and professional connections.
"Clients thus far have been calm, and with markets generally rising in the last few weeks, are comfortable with their financial positions. Remaining available for contact is again key."
Ricky Chan FPFS – Chartered Financial Planner, IFS Wealth & Pensions
"Lockdown 3.0 does not really change much from the first Lockdown in all honesty.
"We’ve not had to use the furlough scheme as we’re still busy servicing existing clients and new clients. We went back to the office briefly in August last year but as the government guidance was and is always changing, we decided to continue working remotely. We’ve adapted our business and advice process to cope (mainly by adopting new technology) and fortunately, many of our clients are happy with the new arrangements and understand the challenge this presents in all walks of life – all our client and team meetings are now done remotely, and paperwork signed electronically.
"We don’t have plans to return to the office soon until this pandemic is more under control. As I’ve previously worked a few days from home even before the pandemic, it’s been an easy transition – but it has made me realise how important it is having a good printer and scanner and fast, reliable broadband!
"There have been a few clients that have been concerned about their investments last year, but after a brief chat, we put their minds at ease."
Darren Cooke FPFS – Chartered Financial Planner, Red Circle Financial Planning
"I am a one-man band business so, as last time, lock down will hardly affect me. I have held hardly any face-to-face meetings since early March last year, just a couple in September. Apart from moving back to the home office little else changes. I have no staff to furlough and didn't use any of the government support schemes last time and don't expect to this time either.
"I have no idea why clients would panic, markets are strong and their investments are all up year on year. I had a few calls last year when markets plummeted but not many and I'm certainly not expecting any this time around.
"I think this will be the case for the vast majority of advice businesses, certainly the ones I speak to saw little to no disruption after an initial adjustment to home working last year. This time around we should already be used to that, indeed many never returned to the office."
Martin Bamford FPFS – Chartered Financial Planner, Informed Choice
"The latest lockdown didn't come as much of a surprise, as the surging rate of infections and hospitalisations required a robust response. It's only a shame that school closures could not have been announced sooner, to give working parents more time to plan for the inevitable disruption.
"Little changes at Informed Choice as a result of this lockdown. We decided yesterday afternoon, ahead of the announcement, to stop seeing clients on a face-to-face basis. Very few of these physical meetings had been taking place, and only ever following Covid-secure guidelines, but the spread of this new virus variant meant we felt it sensible to do everything we can to protect our clients and staff.
"The vast majority of our clients feel very comfortable working with us remotely, using Zoom for meetings. All of our team are working from their respective homes, and we don't have any immediate plans to reopen our two offices."