That said, securing client information is likely to be a bigger issue, as ensuring the documentation, Zoom or Skype conversations and phone calls that relate to any advice given are encrypted and recorded becomes essential. Staff moving from office to home working are more likely to be transferring documents from one place to another on laptops or on paper.
Some advisers will opt to use cloud servers, which can be accessed from anywhere and can save time and reduce any duplication of work. But again, you need to be sure that these comply with the level of security the regulator expects – otherwise, you could have a big problem.
All of this needs to be secured and tracked – something that is more complex when you have staff spaced around the UK.
If you happen to have staff who spend some of their time overseas, the FCA points out this could lead to “operational and legal risks”. But realistically, wherever they or their staff are, advisers really need to up their game when it comes to using technology and cybersecurity, because these are currently some of the biggest vulnerabilities any business has.
There are huge benefits to allowing hybrid working for advisory and admin staff. Many studies have shown that allowing people to work more flexibly and in their own environment can lead to them being more productive – that can only be a good thing.
Even so, it does make it more difficult to instil a company ‘culture’, especially for new employees, who can also feel they get a lack of support and that their training is compromised by the lack of one-to-one mentoring they may get in the office throughout the week.
However, hybrid working is definitely a thing of the future, and advisers who embrace everything they need to from regulatory, cybersecurity and business culture and training perspectives are the ones most likely to attract good staff. Because now, a company car and a decent pension is not enough for most people.
Alison Steed is a freelance journalist