COVID Stories 2020
Megan Toal, Group Head of HR & OD, provides insight on how Accuro Fiduciary has dealt with the COVID-19 crisis to date.
After the initial hustle of ensuring we are all set up to work from home to serve clients as seamlessly as possible, our main emphasis has been on making sure all our colleagues are coping with everything the Coronavirus and the change in the working environment has thrown at us. Early canvassing made us aware of some particular stresses, including, a lack of interaction with people for those living alone; juggling workload, management, parenting / teaching and compact living quarters making it difficult to delineate between work and home life. There also seems to be something around the whole day flying by before we realise we have not taken a break. The lack of social interaction is tricky for some, as that is where the inspiration for creative thinking is gleaned.
In the first few weeks, we certainly experienced heavy workloads, which made it difficult for us to switch off. This normalised as we became used to new practices and learned how to put structure around our days.
HOW WE ADAPTED AND INNOVATED
Recognising and addressing mental health issues
We introduced several mental health sessions within the framework of our Accuro Academy. These were run by our organisational development partners, Blacklight Advisory Ltd, who dealt with key issues identified by our staff. The sessions are available across all jurisdictions. Examples of included topics are: - Leading remotely – maintaining a connected team - Home working and home schooling – when working and parenting collide - How to deal with feeling overwhelmed and anxious – boundaries, routines and rituals - Living alone – how to address and overcome loneliness.
One to one sessions
We have offered one to one sessions with psychologists where colleagues have had particular struggles or where they have lost someone to the virus.
Regular Communications from Accuro Leadership
These aim to contain and interpret what is happening, both internally and externally, at times of great uncertainty. Our CEO and MDs have introduced videos to reassure employees that Accuro has the resources to weather the storm and to give clear direction on how to service existing clients and develop new business in the context of COVID19. This has served to keep us connected and alleviate anxieties. Culture of Compassion and Trust A big part of what we do is not tangible. It is the culture of compassion and trust which is demonstrated at a senior level and so filters throughout the whole company. Compassion towards one another, in our varying circumstances, helps us to manage drastic change. Trust also plays a significant role in that people need to feel secure enough in their roles to go offline and be unattainable for a while to take a break, home school or whatever it may be.
Music lessons for children
For parents of small children, we have set up a WhatsApp group lead by a music teacher where the children are taught a different song each week.
The Accuro Academy has expanded its mentoring initiative so that all new staff members are allocated a mentor in order to give extra support to those joining Accuro under the lockdown conditions.
Virtual Coffee / Aperitif breaks
Our work relationships are a big part of what makes working at Accuro a great experience. We pulled out all the stops to ensure there are more informal team catch-ups and more opportunities to collaborate across the group. We host virtual coffee breaks twice daily and an aperitif break to end each week. There are also calls taking place between four randomly selected individuals, so we continue building internal relationships across the group.
A significant number of the worldwide staff have joined together in a WhatsApp group committed to a 30-day yoga challenge.
Our Social Forum have set us a Tik Tok dance challenge which we can do with our families.
KEEPING OUR TEAM MOTIVATED
All of the above help keep our working relationships stable, which is a critical motivational factor. We have insisted on daily team meetings for all teams. All staff have just completed one to one career conversations with their managers so we can make sure everyone is working at their optimal level of challenge and to understand and support employee aspirations.
ON CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION
People are sending in photographs of their home working space and montages are being made to help us feel more connected.
Thought Leadership Videos
Our marketing team is producing short films which will be available on our website; for example, there will be one on Trust Definitions.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE FUTURE
Redundancy of Disaster Recovery Site
We have been able to update our disaster recovery plan to exclude a DR site since we are all ready to work from home successfully.
We are all now fully set up to work from home, so we will be able to consider future flexible working requests with the benefit of experience. This may enable us to attract and retain talent by offering such working practices. It may also assist in reducing our future real estate costs across the Group at a time of business growth for Accuro.
Upskill in technology
Being thrown in at the COVID-19 deep end means we are all at least a little bit whizzier on the technology front than we were a few months ago, from learning to use electronic signatures to becoming more proficient in the use of multiple applications for virtual meetings.
Strategic Opportunities for Family Businesses
Despite the real risks of a postCOVID-19 world being geopolitically more volatile, with greater involvement of governments in our social and economic lives and the acceleration of inequalities, this crisis could give our clients and our industry the opportunity for a significant reset. As trustees and advisors, we have a role to play in raising the awareness of the need for families to use their wealth and legacy as a force for good in the context of growing inequalities and to deploy their capital in a way that averts ecological collapse.
Refocusing of Client Priorities
As COVID-19 is a global phenomenon and has the potential to affect every family, it has been a stark reminder for many to reconsider their succession planning, their investment strategies and also the jurisdiction in which they reside. This has led to a greater focus on estate planning and recognition that advice be sought and measures implemented in collaboration with trusted advisors and top quality fiduciary providers.
Client Communication and Travel
As a Private Client business, the importance of being available to meet face to face with client families and their advisors in their home jurisdictions has always been an essential part of our service offering. With increased use of video calls over this period, it has become clear that this is a convenient, time and cost efficient means to add to the interaction. It has also allowed for families that are spread around the world to be able to join meetings thereby increasing and improving the flow of communication, information sharing and involvement. In some case that may become a preferred means of communication which will reduce travel and thereby in turn reduce the carbon footprint of businesses.
Published in STEP Employer Partnership Programme, 05 June 2020.