This year has seen the first of many milestone moments: the first female vice-president was elected in the US, and most of us also experienced a global pandemic for the first time.
This year also heralded the first virtual Financial Adviser Service Awards ceremony in its 30-year history, due to coronavirus restrictions.
But unlike Kamala Harris, who famously asserted her aspiration to be the first, but not the last, female in her post, we well and truly hope that this is the final time this prestigious awards ceremony is held inside FT’s state-of-the-art studio in Bracken House instead of the iconic Natural History Museum.
But despite being held remotely, the celebrations on November 18 did not lose any of their usual glitz or glamour.
Guests were warmly welcomed to the ceremony by Simoney Kyriakou, editor of Financial Adviser, and Dan Jones, editor in chief for FT Adviser – both dressed to the nines.
Celebrations steam ahead
Commenting on the unusual celebrations, which were pre-recorded before the UK’s second lockdown, Ms Kyriakou joked: “Thanks to Covid restrictions, these are not being held in the splendour of the Natural History Museum as in previous years, but are going virtual for the first time – and hopefully last time – in their history.”
Best of all, sponsors watching from home were still able to charge their glasses for the awards, thanks to a hamper that was sent to them in advance.
The ceremony pulled out all the stops with celebrity host and comedian Shappi Khorsandi presenting the awards with characteristic, award-winning sense of humour.
She created a jovial atmosphere with a comical skit covering the dramas of homeschooling during lockdown, as well as many amusing anecdotes from her stints on television shows such as I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and Celebrity MasterChef.
Company of the year
The financial services industry watched from their computer screens as she announced the winners of the prestigious five-star awards across seven categories, as well as some one-off awards to celebrate the 30th anniversary.
Quilter took home the coveted Company of the Year Award after obtaining five-stars in investments, protection and pensions as well as in the new categories platforms and DFMs.
Commenting on the accolade, Paul Feeney, chief executive of Quilter, said: “What an unprecedented year it has been, quite unlike any other in my career.
“This pandemic and the speed at which the industry has had to respond presented unique challenges.
“That’s why being awarded Company of the Year at the Financial Adviser Service Awards means even more to us this year.
“I’m very proud of all our staff and how they have operated through this incredible time. When lockdown was announced we went from virtually 100 per cent of our 4,500 staff working in the office to over 98 per cent working remotely in just three weeks.
“We kept all our call centres open, taking 40,000 phone calls over tax-year end back in late March and early April, and we took them all from our employees’ living rooms.