How is the crisis disrupting you and your company?
Initially, the main disruption was getting used to the different dynamic of everybody working separately from each other – and all those conversations you would normally have across a desk, you cannot have now.
It is about keeping everybody engaged and in the loop about what is going on.
Video chat tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are very good, but they can have their limitations, in that the physical element is missing and people can talk over each other in a meeting without realising.
Will there be a lasting impact to the way we work?
I think the crisis has and will move a lot of the boundaries with regards to people working from home.
Companies were in two camps prior to this: one camp embraced working from home and hot-desking, while the other was more traditional, where everyone comes in each morning and works until 5pm.
I think companies will probably be more relaxed about people working from home after this passes, because they realise the impact is not as detrimental as they thought it might have been.
Can you compare this crisis to any other experience?
I worked through the dotcom bubble in 2000 and then obviously the credit crunch in 2008, but no, I do not think they compare to right now.
People of course are worried about their finances, but they are more worried about the effect on their life overall.
The volumes of calls we have received from clients who are concerned have been no greater than we received after the UK voted for Brexit in 2016.
What conversations have you been having with clients?
I think the typical conversation we have had is that, yes, clients are a little worried about their investments; but then we explain that volatility is a natural part of investing and their response is, ‘We knew that, but we just wanted some reassurance that things weren’t any different this time’.
That is the message we have been saying to clients from the outset: it is a product of markets and markets are volatile.
Now actually is a good time to be buying equities – so do carry on paying in and carry on with your Isa contributions, because markets are significantly lower now than they were three months ago.
Clients who have perhaps been most affected by this are people who only have been invested for 12 months. They will have seen a pretty good 2019, with maybe double-digit returns, but now they are seeing double-digit losses.
But investing is long term. You are not invested for the next six-12 months; you are invested for the next 10-20 years. It is just reassuring people.
Lee Waters is chief executive at Barwells Wealth
All his comments were correct and given in good faith at the time of interview [April 9].