In this new series of special covid-19 lock-down interviews International Investment's Gary Robinson asks some of the industry's biggest names and key players how the global pandemic has impacted the industry, their business and themselves personally. We start with Quilter International's CEO, Peter Kenny.
GR: How has covid-19 lock-down affected how you work generally?
PK: As a business, we quickly had to get most of our staff set up to work from home in a very short period of time. One major initial project was implementing softphone technology for our customer service teams, so they could still service our customers and advisers. We are proud of how quickly and efficiently our colleagues adapted to their new working conditions and pleased that our business continuity plan successfully meant that by and large, we were able to adapt to the crisis quickly.
"Financial advisers have shown that they are a very adaptable time and time again. Whether that is adapting to new regulations or macroeconomic crisis such as the 2008 financial crash they have managed to weather the storm," Quilter International's CEO Peter Kenny
GR: Describe where have you been working during lock-down and how are you coping with more remote working, i.e. the work/life balance?
PK: I have been working from my home on the Isle of Man. Like most, I have found both positives and negatives in the experience. One of the positives is that I have been able to spend much more time with my family and our new chickens! However, like many I enjoy coming to the office to see the fantastic people in our business and engage with them every day. While I have been doing that remotely, video calls cannot replace the feeling you get from seeing people face to face regularly and I look forward to seeing everyone as and when it is safe to do so.
GR: What are the biggest challenges a) for the industry and b) advisers?
PK: Financial advisers have shown that they are a very adaptable time and time again. Whether that is adapting to new regulations or macroeconomic crisis such as the 2008 financial crash they have managed to weather the storm and I don't see this crisis being any different. Of course, throughout the Quilter group we believe in the power of face to face advice and at the moment that is simply not possible but fortunately many advisers for some years have been adopting technology more and more to service their clients' needs which is now making the transition into this new reality smoother.
GR: How has Quilter changed how it deals with and supports brokers and advisers internationally?
PK: The whole of the Quilter Group quickly recongised the magnitude of the problem posed by Covid-19. We create a programme to support advisers called ‘There for you', which aims to support adviser businesses through this difficult time through online materials and e-events which explore how advisers can manage their clients remotely and how best to advise clients who have been furloughed or need adjusted cash flow modeling and more.
GR: How important has technology been during lockdown?
PK: Even before the pandemic spread we recognised the huge part that technology had to play in helping to drive forward change in the international life industry. We are now even more reliant on it both from a point of view of servicing clients but even simply seeing them. This crisis has shone a light on just how integral good technology is for business and the industry as a whole.
GR: What lasting impact will covid-19 have in international advice market?
PK: Life companies will likely see a percentage of their workforce realize that working from home on a regular or semi-regular basis has many benefits that they will wish to bring with them into life post lock-down. Therefore, we will likely see a big increase in the flexible working arrangements adopted by life companies. Similarly, we may see in the advice space more advisers choose to do more of their work over video conferencing applications reducing the time that they spend travelling so that they can increase their workload and productivity.