In Focus: Vulnerability  

Philanthropy: how advisers stepped up during Covid-19

Philanthropy: how advisers stepped up during Covid-19
Equilibrium's team (photographed in 2018)

Financial services stepped into the breach in 2020 to help communities and charities whose funding was hit by the coronavirus crisis. 

Over the course of 2020 and into 2021, companies and individuals across the financial services industry have been finding ways to support their communities, their clients and their staff cope with the effects of Covid-19 and the consequent lockdowns.

They have climbed virtual Everests, organised foodbank deliveries, created foundations and expanded charitable donations, as well as offering help and support to their peers in terms of bolstering adviser wellbeing and mental health. 

National firm Quilter's foundation donated £50,000 last year to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal to tackle Covid's effect on vulnerable people and those living in refugee camps, and made a £193,000 contribution to the UK's National Emergencies Trust Covid-19 appeal.

According to chief executive Paul Feeney: "We genuinely want to build a company that is more than about profit. This pandemic has brought the future of our industry forward, absolutely.

"It is now clear that sales is not enough, if you are not also caring for your people and making a positive contribution to your community."

In terms of caring for Quilter's staff, the company is committed to supporting them through the Covid crisis, as well as helping the advisers within Quilter Financial Planning meet the cost of regulatory and compensation scheme fees.

Quilter Financial Planning absorbed part of the 20 per cent hike for 2019-20, because, as FTAdviser heard last year, "it was completely unpalatable to pass on".

Speaking as the FSCS levy is set to go through £1bn, Mr Feeney added: "The FSCS levy is unsustainable. The issue is the chief executive of the FCSC knows it is unsustainable, the regulator knows it is unsustainable, and industry and the Treasury know it is unsustainable."

In addition to helping its own staff financially, Quilter also opened up its employee support hub, Thrive, to all financial advisers - not just its own staff - as the Covid lockdown hit both clients and their advisers hard. 

He said: "We wanted to reach out to other people and do our best to help support all advisers. We actually cut all our marketing budget and put our money towards widening Thrive to the advisory community."

Data from Quilter on the use of the Thrive hub and workplace mental health specialist Spill's content on the hub found nearly 10,000 advisers had accessed the hub during 2020. 

The data found:

  • 9,962 unique adviser visits to Quilter’s Thrive hub since July 2020
  • 1,664 adviser visits to Spill’s content via Thrive
  • 15 one-off consultations with Spill
  • 16 took a series of consultations with Spill
  • 77 initiated Spill’s 'ask a question' tool.

Mr Feeney said this highlighted the need for advisers to be supported just as much as they support their clients, especially with the added pressures of maintaining business continuity, paying ever-higher fees and meeting all their regulatory requirements, on top of any personal issues the adviser may have.