The past 18 months have presented a significant challenge to all businesses in the way they operate and financial services has been no exception.
Speaking at the FTAdviser Smarter Business Forum this week (June 29), Schroders Personal Wealth chief executive officer Mark Duckworth and M&G managing director David Montgomery discussed some of the challenges of working from home for businesses and how the firms have coped.
The global pandemic has seen a shift in the way people work and has in many ways accelerated the use of the technology across the industry.
However, as remote working becomes more prominent, the question was raised around how firms can keep employees motivated and focused on the job at hand.
Duckworth said: “The first thing is to remember the purpose of why we exist, such as the skills that we all possess are one that can change clients' lives. It's the thing that gets you out of bed every morning.
“The use of technology has been forced and I think that we wouldn’t have been here for five years if it wasn’t for the pandemic. But it's not just that conversation internally, or externally with clients to work on, it's about connecting with each other.”
He added: “Often the office space was used to think things through, to share problems, challenges and once we'd done that, we went away and felt we’d learnt something.
“We've got to try new technology in that way too and just be very conscious of the isolation that we may all have from being isolated from work colleagues and I think we can use technology to work together internally.”
Likewise Montgomery outlined some of the areas of focus at his firm.
He explained at the start of the pandemic M&G’s initial reaction was to focus on how to keep the business operating during that period of time.
However, that "quickly shifted into supporting people and new ways of working.
“So whether that was getting the right kit, or the desks or chairs that people needed to be able to work from home - this became massively important.
“It was about keeping the communication going with people and I think communication certainly increased during this period of time as we checked in with employees and made sure they were okay.
"I think that was hugely important as part of motivating them to keep them going through this.”
Montgomery explained that for M&G it was a “sharp focus” to motivate staff as it acquired a business during the pandemic and all transactions and conversations were via teams or Zoom.
He said: “We had to bring 350 new employees into our business so it was how we connected with them, how we made them feel part of the business and so you have to find new ways of doing things like that.”