Advice industry pulls together amid Covid-19 isolation

Advice industry pulls together amid Covid-19 isolation

In a week marked by the commencement of a 12-week lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus, the advice industry has demonstrated amazing resilience.

Dozens of advisers have written into FTAdviser during this peculiar and disturbing time in our nation's – our world's – history to let us know of initiatives they have created to help their clients, their staff and their businesses continue to thrive, despite the government's plea for self-isolation.

One adviser in West Yorkshire has pledged to 'live' in his office if the shut-down continues, so that he can continue to man the office phones (there is a bed and shower facility in the office).

Others have been carrying out 'face-to-face' meetings via Skype, and many have provided clients with their personal mobile phone numbers so they can help during out-of-office hours.

While strongly advising clients against cashing in their investments in panic, advisers have stated that communication is absolutely vital, providing both online and written information for clients at a time when markets have experienced drops of more than 2,000 points in a month.

In this week's update to clients, Joshua Gerstler, chartered financial planner at The Orchard Practice, moved to reassure: "With the extra free time at home please don’t stress too much about your portfolio – leave that to me.

"If you can get through this market period without committing the gravest of investing mistakes, which is selling low in a declining market, you’ll likely not encounter such extreme conditions again. I obviously can’t guarantee this, but it’s a hunch.

"Being your financial adviser means the world to me, I’m here for anything, just call."

It is this sort of communication – direct, reassuring and clear – that matters to people at times such as these. It is a pity that world leaders cannot be as direct, concise and comforting to their citizens, as we have seen in recent news reports. 

As for financial advisers' own business practices, announcements from chancellor Rishi Sunak have helped to allay some fears for those who are self-employed. The government has said coronavirus-related business loans will now be interest-free for 12 months rather than six.

Moreover, the government has announced it will defer the next quarter of VAT payments until June, while the next round of tax self-assessments for the self-employed will be delayed until January 2021.

Working remotely has become easier over the past decade or so, which means disruption is not as great as it could have been otherwise.

Teams have been conducting group meetings via Google Hangouts and training has moved online according to various bodies, such as the Chartered Insurance Institute and Quilter's Advice School.

Previously planned CPD-qualifying roadshow seminars have turned into webinars, such as the ones on offer from Dynamic Planner.

Various communities such as the Paraplanners Powwow have created support networks online to provide guidance and help for those working at home or those freelance and contract workers who are worried about their revenue streams.