The lowdown on lockdown

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Justin Modray
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It would be an understatement to say that the coronavirus crisis has felt surreal. We have gone through degrees of incredulity from something initially distant in China, early signs in the UK, panic buying, stock markets in freefall to the new ‘normal’ of lockdown. I doubt many of us ever expected to experience something like this but, equally, it is amazing how quickly we can all react and pull together when we need to.

The key priorities for all of us are to stay healthy, sane and solvent during these challenging times. We seem to be managing all three at Candid so far; the biggest challenge is probably home schooling our young children who would rather be playing video games or chatting to friends online, often both at the same time!

Distractions aside, working from home has actually been quite painless. Everyone has a secure company laptop and we use an online phone system so, bar the odd barking dog or noisy child in the background, I don’t think you would notice any difference. Aside from lunchbreaks spent in the garden, it feels very much business as usual. We have been especially conscious to keep in touch with clients and send regular updates when it matters. Clients have generally coped with the crisis wonderfully, and where they have had concerns we have tried hard to react quickly.

Ian and I have always joked that someone’s relationship with their financial adviser is directly correlated to the value of the stock market. Booming markets and valuations often paper over a lot of cracks, and it is during the tough times where relationships are really tested. We fully expect to busier than ever when lockdown lifts. Firstly, we plan to close the doors to new enquiries for a little while so we can focus on doing a thorough ad hoc review for all of our existing clients. However, longer term we expect lots of enquiries as we suspect there will be many clients looking for new advisers at the end of this.

We think it is decisions like shutting the door to new clients so we can focus on existing clients that makes our business so strong. Financially that hurts us. Compounded by the bulk of our revenues being directly linked to the value of our clients’ investments, which have obviously taken a hit from falling markets. Nevertheless, the business is fine. We keep a tight lid on our costs and have a healthy cash balance, since Ian and I have always focussed on building a great business rather than drawing as much as we can out of it. And it means that, even in the most extreme circumstances, our focus is on doing exactly what we think is right for our clients. I know it sounds a bit glib, but to us that is exactly how we build a great business.

We count our blessings, since many are suffering far worse than us, and will keep working at staying healthy and sane, which means not taking home-schooling too seriously!

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