Ascot Lloyd is one of the UK fastest growing national IFAs with over 125 Advisers and almost £8bn of funds under management (FUM) so, as you would expect of a firm our size, we have made extensive plans for a return to the offices. Our priorities throughout Covid-19 have been the safety and wellbeing of our staff, clients and their respective families and our ability to maintain good continuity of service. Our continued flexibility in working practices will be critical to this. Currently we have over 97% fully operational, working from home so any return to offices can be phased. We began looking at this over three weeks ago now and key to any steps has been to ask staff for their choice of working. Last week we sent a questionnaire to all our staff asking them for their preferred options and choices.
We have looked carefully at the new health and safety needs – we have reviewed all floorplans, only desks 2m apart will be used, all desks will have hand sanitiser on them, signs emphasising social distancing have been installed and all canteens closed. Lifts have either been shut or had capacity reduced. All is ready for a return to the offices in an environment that ensures Covid-19 compliance. Of our 18 offices only two may need split shifts and we are encouraging staff to miss rush hours. Our staff “buy a bike” scheme has been pushed and we are considering purchasing masks for staff who will need to use public transport. Flexibility will be critical, we aren’t going to do anything without asking and making sure our people are comfortable and above all else – safe. This way of working isn’t going to change for a long time to come – maybe forever.
Going forward there is no doubt that things have now changed, and we have seen that we can continue to deliver a best-in-class client service while working remotely. Client communication and engagement, operational processes and our marketing have been irrevocably altered. For clients we will ask you how you want us to communicate with you in the future – going forward video calls will now be an essential part of our client contact programmes. Equally we are aware that some will still want the option of a face to face meeting and we are to looking at how we can implement appropriate social distancing inside clients homes as part of our next operational steps. Client questionnaires will be used extensively to make sure we respond to what you want. Our operational processes will be streamlined and adapt to your preferences, electronic signatures are here to stay. We can now communicate with most of you by email and a higher number than ever before by text – these will be used extensively, based on you telling us your preference.
This crisis has proved once again how much you still need advice and that the industry will innovate, change and adapt – as it always has.