In the first of a special series of commentary pieces relating to how the industry is adapting to deal with the challenges that Covid-19 has brought, we hear from Phil Story (pictured above), head of distribution EMEA at Investors Trust, on how he has adjusted to remote working thousands of miles from his office and home base in Dubai.
"[This is] a personal story of this new working environment that we live in during the Covid19 pandemic. What happens when you cannot work from the office, or from your home? Basically, you have to find a solution and carry on running your business remotely.
"In these extraordinary times, when there are so many people suffering, you have to feel lucky sometimes. For me, after I was blocked from returning to Dubai (my home and office for the last 16 years) after a holiday, I feel very lucky to have some great friends who were willing to open up their homes to me and help me manage this odd situation.
"I was eventually able to fly into the UK and have set up a temporary base for now. I will say that it was interesting coming from warmer climes and arriving in the UK to -2 degrees centigrade with just some t-shirts and shorts! Anyway, after a quick shop for food, clothes and some IT equipment before the lockdown, the office was up and running from the dining table."
"I am also lucky that I have Investors Trust 21st century systems to fall back on. I can pretty much work from anywhere nowadays. With the modern online communication tools like Skype, Teams, etc., it is pretty easy to stay in touch with the Investors Trust team in Dubai, or any of our other offices.
"And, most importantly, I'm able to stay in touch with our business partners, which is most crucial during times of uncertainty. Whether it be communications to highlight that we are available and working remotely or answering phone calls and assisting in day-to-day needs, either way we are operating business as usual. Luckily for us, we have a BCP that we've been testing over the last couple of years and it continues to work as planned.
We are also lucky that our systems and operations are working smoothly and, with our fully online processing of applications and servicing queries, the impacts so far have been very minimal.
"We work with many quality advisers and they have been doing a great job at trying to alleviate any client concerns after the market falls while also highlighting the opportunities that these falls can also bring for those that can invest now.
The key, as always for saving and investing towards your goals, is that those goals have not changed (you still want your kids to go to university, for example) and to also remember to focus on the medium to long-term, not the one day movements in the markets.
"Finally, I am extremely lucky to have a fabulous team in Dubai to hold the fort and carry on with the fantastic service that our partners have come to expect.
In times like these, I'm grateful to have a dedicated team that looks after each other and truly wants to deliver the best possible service to our business partners and clients. At times like these, we can all do more to support our friends, family and colleagues. Stay safe, follow the official guidance day to day, and remember to keep your focus on the end results."
Phil Story is head of distribution, EMEA, at Investors Trust