Adviser diary: Dealing with the demand surge

Adviser diary: Dealing with the demand surge

Damian Fantato speaks to advisers about how their businesses are adapting to the coronavirus crisis. Today Ian Lowes, managing director at Lowes Financial Management, discusses the challenges for his firm.

We prepared for an office evacuation from March 16, and got any vulnerable members of staff off site from March 17 as well as core members of staff set up to work from home.

We didn't know if we would get any notice, so we had all departments operating off site but with a thin skeleton staff.

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We were functioning off premises but very loosely. Having gone from a building that can accommodate 90 to having to close the doors was a lot of logistics.

On March 9 I wrote to all clients and asked them to check their email address and update it because we feared we wouldn't be able to communicate by letter.

Our major concern is relying on the postal service now. You run the risk of a letter not being delivered for weeks.

We have been here before in 2008 and 2003. It is a difficult time but made more difficult by the fact I can't send letters.

We can monitor who opens emails, which gives us quite a number of clients who we are ringing just to give them some words of calm.

It is testament to the management team that the office has stepped up to the plate. We have redirected our mail to our administration manager's house, and we get a big bag of mail every day so that's a lot for one person to go through - though we expect that to dwindle.

At the moment we are concentrating on getting pipeline business up and running.

In a few weeks' time it will be a perfect time to start thinking about financial planning. When you've exhausted Netflix, why not start thinking about things you have been putting off for a long time? You are not going to be planning your holiday.

While working from home comes with additional challenges, children and other family aside, the interruptions are considerably less, so in theory more work can be done.

We’re closely monitoring the situation and won’t be turning up the heat on our marketing if, for example our technical department are struggling to keep on top of producing suitability reports or admin department struggling to process. But, a few teething issues aside, the home workers in each department are managing to get ahead of the game so, so far so good.

You make your money in the good times but now is the time you earn it.

We did cancel all face-to-face appointments earlier in March and moved to a telephone system. We are at a point where a lot of people are saying "we should leave it and talk about it when things calm down", but how long that's going to take is another matter.

Anybody who is due to take a scheduled withdrawal for their income might be convinced to reconsider.