How has the lockdown disrupted you?
Before the lockdown, I essentially ran my business from home, so obviously I have not been able to have any face-to-face meetings. Because most of my clients are older, they wouldn’t ideally have wanted to have a meeting over the telephone or over Skype. Some clients don’t mind, but to be honest I’m not a big fan either, so normally I would physically go see people.
Ultimately, I think the crisis has been disruptive, but I think it’s more fundamental, in that people generally haven’t wanted to think about money. They have been worrying about bigger things.
Can you compare the coronavirus crisis to anything you have experienced before?
No, not really. I began working in 2001, so of course I worked through the financial crash in 2008, which was worse from purely a markets point of view. That was more worrying in that sense, because of the systemic problems and at one point we all thought the wheels were coming off, didn’t we? But this crisis and its wider disruption and panic and fear is a lot more than I would have expected and also than I have experienced before.
What conversations have you had with clients, worried about their investments?
In 2008, I had clients ringing me up and panicking and crying – so from that moment I made a real point, moving forward, that I would have a doomsday conversation with all my clients. Even in some recent reviews with clients, where I had helped make them 20% for the year and they said, ‘Oh, this is amazing’ I said, ‘Yes, but one day I am going to be sat here telling you that your portfolio has gone down by 20%. You must always keep that in mind’. Whether it is those conversations or that clients are more self-educated today, it seems to have worked.
So far in this crisis I have only had one client – a new client – who has had a real panic and in his defence he had literally just begun to invest and in only a week or so he was down significantly.
The average conversation with a client has gone along the lines of, ‘Is my money down? Yes. How much? 10-15%. Oh dear. Oh well. Let’s sit tight’. I have also had emails from long-standing clients, who wrote, ‘Obviously, everything is down. Do I need to be worried?’ I have replied, ‘Don’t worry. Yes, everything has hit the fan, but you haven’t lost anything yet. As usual, please hold on for the recovery’. And they’ve said, ‘Okay. Fine’.
Of course, I’m not happy about the situation as their adviser and they’re not happy as clients. But I am pleased with how people have reacted – I don’t think I actually could have asked for a better general reaction. Hopefully, that was down to the preparation work we have together done in readiness for this type of market fall-off.
People obviously have lost varying amounts – ranging from not very much, to as much as 20%, which clearly has been dependent upon, for example, their risk profile. But people have generally been very good about what has happened.
How has Dynamic Planner helped you during the lockdown?
In one sense, we were already using Dynamic Planner so much that it had already helped us enormously – it’s an incredible system. Had we not adopted it, it would have been a nightmare trying to work through this crisis.
The risk profiling is extremely useful obviously. The integration Dynamic Planner has with Intelligent Office [iO] is also essential. And the Client Review reports are just amazing. Incidentally, I’ve just been dropping off some food shopping for a friend, who is also a financial adviser and I had been telling him about Dynamic Planner and its review reports. He now uses it and thinks the reports are amazing too.
I completed a review for a client the other day in about 20 minutes. Obviously, nothing much was required – and if a review is more complex, it will of course need more time to go into. But what Dynamic Planner has allowed me to do is review around 100 – 120 clients each year and have greater capacity, definitely. The report itself is nicely presented; it keeps MiFID happy; it’s extremely quick to produce; and everything feeds in from iO, which is excellent.