James Coney  

We must make the most of the lockdown sequel

James Coney

James Coney

In the history of rotten sequels, lockdown part II has to be right up there as one of the most depressing and unwelcome. 

Still, despite the disappointment that we have been here before, businesses that have been able to adapt in the financial services sector are in a much better place than first time round.

I know many advisers moved swiftly, at great expense, to make sure that they could keep operating and helping clients.

So what did we learn from the first wave and will it be the same? 

If the first lockdown was about accelerating existing trends: remote working, online retailing, alternative methods of transport, and contactless technology, then this time is likely to be more about embedding. 

Thankfully we have not – at least at the time I write this – had the same endless days of rollercoaster markets to put up with and navigate, though we did have 48 hours of sell-offs.

More chaotic has been the market’s shaky reaction to uncertainty over last week’s US election.

From the advisers I have spoken to, clients have not been hammering down the door wanting to know what is going on, as before. Rather they are ready to sit it out and see what happens on the other side of Christmas.

Which shows that we have all learned a little more patience since the first lockdown.

Clients are also used to the technology now. I have heard several amusing tales of advisers who became ad hoc tech consultants with some more doddery clients first time round, as they tried to help them install Windows updates and guided them through app downloads to help them have virtual meetings.

There is no need to waste time on this now as it is all set up. That means this early investment in time capital is going to start paying off. 

The real question the latest lockdown poses is: what else is to come in terms of retirement planning?

We know that two groups of workers have been hit hardest by redundancies so far: the under-30s and the over-60s. For this latter group there are some serious questions to be asked about retirement strategy and investments, given the jobs market they might be facing.

On top of this, the new wave of jobs support packages unveiled by Rishi Sunak means billions more is being added to the national debt, which in turns means the likelihood of lower rates for longer, and in turn, the growing challenge of how to help clients generate an income.

This is the minefield that awaits once the lockdown lifts. Plotting a pathway to retirement for clients who have had their carefully planned pathways disrupted as they walk into a financial world we have never seen before is going to be the biggest challenge of all.