Your IndustryAug 24 2020

Pesky pets and risky appearances: advisers share their WFH tales

Search supported by
Pesky pets and risky appearances: advisers share their WFH tales

Thousands of workers were forced to create home offices this year when the UK was plunged into lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis.

While working from home has in most cases proved to be a success and a lifeline for advisers, it also came with its challenges.

From dealing with pesky pets to managing risky appearances, advisers have shared their tales of juggling work with home life and dealing with the downsides of an increased reliance on technology.

Tech issues

Advisers’ biggest bugbear about working from home was when technology failed in the middle of an important client meeting or when the internet was down for a substantial amount of time, making it difficult to work efficiently. 

Ian Porter, director at Roberts Clifford Wealth Management, said: “The only real issue is when the screen on a Zoom call freezes and you are left trying to work out if you have a tech issue or if your client has been just mentally drifted off/been stunned into silence by your advisory genius."

He added: “If you are hearing impaired like I am, a mismatch between the sound and how someone’s lips are moving can be really frustrating as you can’t lip read. Same applies when someone wears a mask and speaks quietly.

“Otherwise working from home is generally good but no substitute for being in an office with people who refer work to you.”

Krupesh Kotecha, financial planner at Balance Wealth Planning, also noted the risk of video call fatigue, especially when it came to back to back calls.

Mr Kotecha said: "This is particularly true with new clients because you have to work extra hard to pick up on social cues in two dimensions on a screen - that is much easier to get a feel for face to face."

Home schooling

Some advisers have had to take up the role of teacher throughout lockdown in order to ensure their children stayed on top of their education.

Mr Kotecha said one of the main challenges was making homeschooling fit alongside his work day.

He said: “Although I’ve really enjoyed spending that quality time with my children, it has meant shifting my working pattern and sometimes this doesn’t go to plan. Flexibility has been vital.”

Pesky pets

If advisers were not worried about children running in on their meetings, they were instead having to ensure their pets learnt to keep quiet when they were on a client call.

Tim Morris, independent financial adviser at Russell & Co, said he frequently had to deal with his dog’s noisy sleeping habits.

Mr Morris told FTAdviser: “A good one is when the dog is taking his afternoon nap and snoring in the background. 

“I’ve had a couple of clients comment on the noise and one thought there was some drilling going on outside the house!”

Accidental appearances

As most workers advisers have had to adapt to a new way of working and get on board with video call etiquette and how to present themselves in a professional manner from home.

However, some have been left red-face by making appearances in their partner’s work calls unexpectedly.

Mr Morris admitted to being caught off-guard when wandering into his partner’s work meeting after his morning shower.

He said: “We’ve had the usual moments where I have walked into the bedroom after a shower in just my underwear and have been visible in the background of my girlfriend’s video meeting.

“As professional as you try make the setting/environment, my view on it is that if they’re looking into your home, they have to expect those kind of things will happen.”

Heatwave longings

For Alistair Cunningham, financial planning director at Wingate Financial Planning, working from home has been business as usual but he has admitted to missing the office air-con during this summer's stifling temperatures.

Mr Cunningham said: “The only time I can think of a specific incident was last week when it was the heatwave and I’m in my office here with a PC blowing out 60 degree heat.

“I did think I miss the air conditioning, but arguably that’s rose-tinted spectacle thinking – the AC is often a source of inter-office strife.”

Cyber security 

Finally, with the threat of a second wave and ongoing working from home scenarios Heather Hopkins, founder and managing director at research firm NextWealth, urged advisers to consider the security of their home set up to avoid any more serious mishaps.

Recent months have seen increasing attempts from scammers and fraudsters to cash in on the uncertainty of the pandemic, with both consumers and businesses targeted as victims. 

In May scammers targeted financial advisers by sending fake emails purporting to be due diligence requests from the Financial Conduct Authority. 

Ms Hopkins said: "If I were an adviser I would also make sure my team were fully trained on cyber security and I'd communicate proactively with clients about it too.

"The number of phishing scams and cyber attacks spiked as a result of Covid and firms need to do as much as they can to protect themselves.",,

What do you think about the issues raised by this story? Email us on to let us know.