Last year the biggest challenge that Mazars Financial Planning faced was integrating its acquisition of RCL Consultancy – a business it bought from Embark in 2017.
This year has been decidedly different, as it had to respond quickly after coronavirus hit the UK back in March.
Ian Pickford, office managing partner and head of UK wealth planning and financial advice, says: “While we were a business that championed agile working, the past 12 months has seen the whole business embrace this fully with Covid-19 being the catalyst.
“We learned very quickly we could operate in a remote way and, while some of the normal activities have been curtailed, it is commonly felt our teams are collaborating more now than they did when they were in the office.”
One of the most surprising things that Mr Pickford has experienced during the crisis is the manner in which some providers have managed the crisis.
“Providers have also had to adapt [but] the digitisation of our interaction has been dealt with better by some than others,” he says.
“What has surprised me most has been the adaptability of some of the smaller providers who have been quick to adopt new processes; as opposed to some of the larger providers where you still can’t speak to a member of staff because they are ‘working from home’ and still require ‘wet ink’ signatures.”
With modern technology, he adds that still requiring wet ink signatures should “not be an issue” and those who purport to be at the forefront of the sector appear to be the slowest to change.
At Mazars the company has also had to accelerate its own tech capabilities as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Pickford says: “We were in the process of transforming our business and Covid-19 acted as a catalyst to accelerate these changes to the extent we are now ahead of schedule.
“It forced us to look at digitising many parts of our business and we actioned these changes.”
He adds: “We have [created] new ways to develop business, new skills in presenting to new and existing clients and used the situation to accelerate changes in our business for the benefit of clients and business efficiency.
“Equally, while we are collaborating more, people development and training practices have had to be revised. However, I am really proud of the way the business has reacted so positively and cooperatively to the changes, many of which are here to stay.”
When speaking on the changes made by the company, Mr Pickford says: “These changes have been greeted positively by both staff and new and existing clients as they have made life easier.
“We still believe there is more to do and, as a result, the way we do business is going to change for the better.”