Adviser diaries: 'This will change the way we work forever'

Neil Moles

Neil Moles

In a new series, Damian Fantato speaks to advisers about how their businesses are adapting to the coronavirus crisis. This first edition sees Neil Moles, chief executive of Progeny, explain his plan of action.

We are in the final stages of shutting down. We have got eight offices and have prioritised London and Edinburgh where the cases are higher and the concentration is higher. We are closing down Leeds now. It is just a question of making sure the IT infrastructure is working.

We have a responsibility to look after our team and their wider families, and allow flexibility around working patterns.

But we also have a responsibility to our clients who are paying us to deliver a service in line with our agreements.

Fortunately we have got our own internal video conferencing facility. We cancelled all meetings a week ago and moved them onto that.

We have removed the need for wet signatures for a lot of documents. We are in a very good place to continue serving clients.

People push back, but this forces a lot of things. It will change the way we work forever. Clients will get used to operating in a different way as well.

You go into a form of hibernation mode but you also look at your business. It is a great opportunity now and we have the time to look at the projects we want to.

I know a lot of businesses won't survive this, and that's horrible, so it's important there are businesses that do survive and are able to recruit.

We have always stress-tested the business. We have always known what our bottom is, where we would be at zero profit and we have a series of steps we can make along that journey to mitigate.

The level of client communications we have been able to push out in the last week has been quite high.

We have been proactive. We have been issuing communications to clients every 48 hours in terms of our response to the virus. The 10 per cent drop notifications have gone out on time.

We spend a lot of time educating clients that something like this will happen. We will be pushing out a webcast to clients next week, to be open and honest that we have a plan and we are executing it.

Most clients have been very pragmatic. We have advised all of our advisers to ring all of our clients in the next week because we won't be seeing them.

It is easy to run and hide when markets are like this, but that's not what they pay us for.

A lot of clients just want reassurance we are still here.