Many companies are being judged on how their leaders and senior managers have responded to the coronavirus pandemic that has turned the majority of people’s lives upside down over the past few weeks.
The financial advice sector is no different, and Ian Mattioli, chief executive of wealth management and employee benefits business Mattioli Woods, was one of the first to announce, on March 27, that he would reduce his basic salary to zero until June 30.
The board directors have also agreed to halve their basic salaries or fees over the same period.
Mr Mattioli, who set up the company with Bob Woods in 1991, says he quickly concluded that “not drawing a salary was an appropriate response at this time of crisis”.
He adds: “At the same time, I felt that would settle clients, some of whose businesses were falling off cliffs.
“And settle our staff because they and their families were scared – this is a situation which is really complex.”
He points to the financial strength of Mattioli Woods and says if there are businesses that can afford not to use the government’s resources “in this really desperate time of need”, they should avoid doing so.
“At Mattioli Woods, we’re hoping we can get through all of this coronavirus issue – because we will come out of it at some stage – without using a penny of government aid.
“Of course, reducing my salary, reducing the board’s salary, just cements the sustainability of the business,” he says.
Mr Mattioli acknowledges that the circumstances are “totally unprecedented”, but the way in which “particular leaders behave and influencers behave” is really important.
“The core thing we do is we look after other people’s money. Therefore, there is total expectation of clients that we should be able to look after our own money as well,” he adds.
Open for business
In the same announcement in March, Mr Mattioli said staff had been told that no bonuses were likely to be paid in the current financial year, “providing additional resources to address the impact of Covid-19”.
But the company has been able to continue paying its more than 600 employees.
“Those people come to work because that’s how they live.
“And we also needed to show them that they were protected because we needed them to carry on working, so that we could create good outcomes for our clients in the most complex of circumstances,” he explains.
“Not only did we reduce our salaries, but we gave them a promise that basic salaries would be paid at full levels to the period to June 30.”
Mattioli Woods has remained fully operational so far throughout the lockdown period, with staff able to work from home straight away.
“Being operational and open is really important during a crisis,” he adds, noting that clients have sought lots of advice and that staff have already spoken to 95 per cent of clients one-to-one.