In this latest edition of International Investment's Lockdown Interviews series, Gary Robinson catches up with Ariel Amigo, chief marketing and distribution officer at Investors Trust and finds that while the company is taking things carefully during this pandemic, communications with advisers remain strong and new opportunities are arising.
GR: How has covid-19 lockdown affected how you work generally?
AA: As a company, we felt confident our quality of work would not be affected, but it was undeniably an adjustment for our team at the beginning. We had to quickly adapt to communicating solely digitally and maintaining the same levels of productivity with a changed environment. We had to recognize that every crisis brings opportunity, and this was our opportunity to take advantage of our modernized approach and our capable technologies.
Every crisis brings opportunity, and this was our opportunity to take advantage of our modernized approach and our capable technologies" - Ariel Amigo, Investors Trust
GR: Describe where have you been working during lockdown and how are you coping with more remote working, i.e. the work/life balance?
AA: I have been working from my home in Miami, Florida. Although my work-space at home may not be as ideal as the one in the office, I have enjoyed seeing family more often. Work/ life balance has always been a priority for me, and this lockdown reinforced its importance. However, with kids you can never go fully undisturbed, so it took some time to find a schedule that worked for all of us.
My usual face-to-face meetings have been replaced by video calls, and while I look forward to going into the office when it is declared safe, I'm glad we have this option that maintains engagement between teams.
GR: What are the biggest challenges a) for the industry and b) advisers/brokers?
AA: The industry and advisers share the biggest challenge: navigating change. Whether that change is working from a different location or facing the economic consequences of the pandemic, industry workers and advisers have had to adapt to these circumstances that continue to change.
Fortunately, the industry has faced times like these, such as the 2008 financial crisis, and is better prepared this time. In terms of technology, digitalization of documents and the simplicity of video calls prepared us for the temporary elimination of face-to-face interactions.
And in terms of market volatility, advisers must reassure their clients the importance of weathering the storm. I believe these challenges will eventually lead the industry and advisers in a positive direction.
GR: How has Investors Trust changed how it deals with and supports brokers and advisers internationally?
AA: At Investors Trust, we quickly realized how important full transparency and communication would be. We wanted the advisers to feel supported, even with a lack of physical meetings and ability to fly internationally. With these options unavailable, we knew we had to increase communication internally and externally.
The most important statement we wanted to convey was that we understand the severity of the situation and put anyone's health and well-being first. Our priority is navigating these unprecedented times as smoothly and peacefully as possible.
GR: How important has technology been during lockdown?
AA: Since Investors Trust was founded, we recognized the importance of advanced technology and customer service. Now more than ever, we appreciate the foundation we have built throughout the years that has allowed our team to work effectively from anywhere. In turn, this has provided security for our clients, as they recognize that we have maintained the level of service we would provide while in the offices.
We acknowledge technology is going to keep evolving and we heighten our standards as it does. During lockdown, we have taken note of each opportunity that has shown what we can improve on, to ultimately provide better service to our clients.
GR: What lasting impact will covid-19 have on the international advice market?
AA: When this pandemic began, our first thoughts were: what does this mean for the investors? Even though this is still an ongoing situation, I think we now have more clarity to confidently recognize what will have a lasting impact. First, improving the experiences of clients.
During uncertain times, emotions run high and temporarily eliminating face-to-face interactions can worsen them more. With the up and downs of the markets, companies will have to respond quickly, recognize the situation, and provide solutions.
Then, a shift in the workplace. As working remotely becomes more accepted, many companies are already realizing the benefits of flexible arrangements. Companies must have procedures in place that provide excellent customer service and the most productivity internally.