20 Mar BY Graham Burnard Preparing your Business for Coronavirus
No doubt you’ve been working with your team to create a response to COVID-19. We certainly have with our coaching clients here at Elixir, so we thought we might share some high-level strategies with you in this article. Between the health precautions and the impact being seen in investment markets, there’s a lot for you to think about. Now is certainly not the time to panic and overreact, it just makes good sense to ensure you and your business are well prepared for the many challenges the pandemic might present. Let’s address this in two areas – your business operations and client communication.
We expanded a little in this video if you prefer to hear from us in-person. We’ve also prepared a handy checklist you can access for free at the end of this article.
The first priority is to make sure you and your team are able to operate effectively even if the office is closed. You need to ensure you can maintain your client service regardless of travel or other restrictions.
It’s important to develop a Business Continuity Plan so that you cover off all the logistics necessary to maintain operations and to service clients that may choose not to travel even if your office is open.
A few things you might want to consider are:
- Have your staff got a suitable space at home where they can work effectively?
- Are all your staff able to access key systems if they are working from home?
- Do you have a robust system for the protection of client data and system passwords?
- Have you got everyone set up with access to a system like Zoom or Goto Meeting so you can conference-call effectively? (video conferencing is much more effective than just phone hook-ups).
- Does everyone know how to use Zoom (or whichever system you are using) to share screens etc so you can easily collaborate on documents as required?
- Are you set up and practiced at running client meetings using video conferencing? (Don’t make your first one the trial!).
- Do you need to think about how you run a client meeting differently if held via a VC call?
- Are you able to redirect calls coming into the office landlines and if so, who should they be directed to?
- If you are operating on reduced staffing how would you prioritise client activity?
- What should you be saying to your clients about how and when to contact your team if you are running the business on reduced numbers?
- Send a communication to all clients updating them on what you are doing to ensure your service to them remains uninterrupted. For example, if staff will be working from home, how you’re managing their remote access and maintaining security protocols.
It is a good idea to do a dry run having some or all of your staff work from home on a particular day to see how well your systems operate and whether anything needs to be changed.
The current turmoil in share markets no doubt will have some of your clients on edge. We recommend getting on the front foot and rather than waiting for calls, or leaving your clients to worry alone, let them know what you’re doing and how you’re thinking. Whilst you’ve been hopefully educating them over time about volatility and long-term decision making, it will be reassuring to them to know that you’re staying on top of things. Do not simply remain silent until they are due for their next review. Decide how you’re approaching the market downturn, identify any at-risk clients or those who need to take action in their portfolios and take a structured approach to working through them.
- You might choose to personally call your top clients (and/or the most vulnerable) OR – shoot a personalised Loom video for each of them and suggest they call if they wish to speak with you. (Don’t forget to set a password on videos that contain private information)
- Rather than send a text-heavy email to the rest of your clients, again, why not shoot a video and send it out to them via email with links or attachments with more detailed fund manager updates. You can also pop the video on your social media channels! Useloom will enable you to do it in minutes OR if you have a Youtube channel, upload it there. You don’t need to make it Hollywood quality, clients will be reassured by your calm, natural voice and explanations of the current situation.
- Do this regularly over the coming period, things are changing so rapidly right now that daily or weekly updates will really help your clients feel connected between their scheduled meetings – even if you can’t speak with them all individually.
- Any clients that are scheduled for reviews in the next 3 months, reaffirm that it is business as usual and you will be still holding their review meeting but if they prefer they can do this via a video conference call.
You might be out of practise at having these conversations about market volatility – indeed some of your younger advisers may have never had these before in their career, so get clear on your message before making calls or hitting record. You may even have one version for clients that are in pension phase, and another for those in accumulation – hearing that a market downturn represents great buying opportunities is reassuring for those with the ability to invest, and frustrating to those who can’t.
Clearly, this is not a time we want to over react but it is prudent to ensure you can still run the business and keep engaging with staff and clients no matter what happens, and now is a good time to make sure everything is set up to do so.
If you have any queries about how you can set up your business to best service and support your clients during this challenging time click here to book a call with an Elixir consultant.
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