Without being overly biased, I have to say our team have adapted extremely well to the 'work from home' measures and we really saw the Crestbridge community come together. Some, like myself, have been working from home since March last year, while others had a brief stint in the office up until Christmas. We were very fortunate in the existing software and systems we had available across the Crestbridge Group so this, combined with a very occupational team spirit, meant that the shift was almost seamless. I think, like for many, there have been ups and downs throughout the process but, proudly we have managed to maintain a high level of service delivery for our clients which is key.
During the initial working from home period, I think many adopted a just 'get through it' mentality; whereas second time around, it appears to be very much here to stay and there is a need for change. There are elements of remote working which work well such as accessibility, however, in recent months, with respect to internal operations, managers are having to adapt their style or approach to account for the areas which were perhaps not as obvious before. Whether this is placing less reliance on body language or actively checking in more with their line reports to make up for the time where you would ordinarily be sat near your team and more easily able to interact. There is a definite need to be more actively engaged in communications with team members than before. As a result, we have regular set times for our management and senior meetings, team meetings and one to ones. To maintain collaboration and connectivity throughout the Family Office Services team, we have also run internal initiatives such as Zoom quizzes and an advent calendar of Christmas events, including a "Bake-Off" and a number of other competitions, all of which were designed to bring everybody together as a team and provide some fun.
The impact for existing clients has been largely positive. The majority of calls are now held with webcams enabled which means that the wider team can meet clients and advisors as opposed to only the more senior members who would have usually travelled for some such client meetings. We have seen some families hold off on their decision to pursue offshore structuring for various reasons which, rather than being a direct result of COVID and restricted travel, is more often due to a change of strategy against the wider economic landscape. That said, we have also seen the complete opposite where a local lockdown has given that critical pause for thought and provided much needed time for families to get their affairs in order. As with most matters for Family Office, it very much comes down to the individuals and business involved.
Definitely the flexibility and a pretty much non-existent commute which, although mine was already extremely limited, provides an extra window of time we didn't previously have. My top tip would be to stay focused on the deliverables but keep carving out that little bit of time for yourself each day; go for a walk, run or cycle while you can and make up the time later - just don't sit at your screen for 10-12 hours a day.
The multimillion-dollar question. Again, this is one where it will very much come down to the individuals/ teams involved. Will there be more Zoom calls? For our clients, absolutely. Whilst they may still need to come to the island for meetings on occasion, we are all increasingly comfortable jumping on a call and seeing our client's or intermediary's face. Will it completely negate the need for face-to-face meetings? I don't believe so and I think the same can be said for people management. There is a certain degree of human interaction required when managing behaviours, whether for your team or your client, so I think the key focus will be on identifying the balance for each business.
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, FAMILY OFFICE SERVICES
Danielle has 10 years of experience in the finance industry with multiple private structures based in various jurisdictions including Jersey, Geneva, Monaco, the US, BVI and Cayman.
She holds the the ICSA Diploma in Offshore Finance and Administration and the CISI Islamic Finance Qualification.
Danielle was a Gold Winner of the 2020 and 2019 Future Leaders Awards in the "Trustee of the Year - Manager" category, in addition to being named as one of the 2019 ePrivateclient Top 35 under 35.
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