NextGen does lockdown

1. What prompted your move to Waverton in April?

I was seeking the opportunity to work for a firm with ambitious growth objectives but also a strong history of excellent private client service. Moving from a large institution like Coutts to a boutique investment house like Waverton brings a fresh set of challenges for a business development manager. For me, Waverton offered the chance to join a hugely experienced private client team while also having the opportunity to help shape their ambitious plans for the future.

2. What was your first day like? Is joining a new company during a pandemic really all that different?

Surreal! I didn't physically meet another member of staff until I was 3 months into the job. Starting a new role at a firm can sometimes be a challenge as you rapidly try to absorb all the information being thrown at you. One benefit of starting remotely was the ability to plan my own introductions and work my way through the organisation in a way that made sense to me. The HR team did a great job remotely enrolling me and our IT department had me fully kitted out before I started.

3. We notice your email signature says that, in light of COVID-19, you're still working remotely. When did this start, how have you found it and what are Waverton's plans for the future in this respect?

Waverton went remote back in March, ahead of the official lockdown announcement. We invested heavily in our digital capability getting all staff the necessary working from home hardware and getting everyone up and running with Teams. The way we work is changing; there is an ever increasing proportion of private wealth clients coming from a younger, more tech savvy demographic. The importance of being able to pitch and articulate your proposition digitally is vital. We have ambitious plans to expand our private client business regionally and the ability to leverage our central investment team using our digital capability will be key. Although face to face contact will always form an integral part of a client relationship, the ability to bolster this with digital content will definitely strengthen our private client offering.

4. How has lockdown affected building/maintaining client relationships?

Lockdown and the restrictions on face to face client contact has provided new challenges. Asking any individual to part with a significant sum of money without ever meeting is difficult and it is important to recognise and respect these additional pressures. It is important to give my clients choice. Whether it be the option to meet safely in person, at a location of their choice and following Government guidelines or to conduct a meeting virtually. Do not limit people to a specific form of video conferencing and make sure you are competent using all the common providers. The biggest mistake is trying to force a client to interact with you over a medium they are not comfortable with.

5. With COVID-19 impacting social calendars and traditional methods of networking, have you found new ways to get to know your colleagues and develop new business?

The world of online networking has evolved massively since COVID-19 and shouldn't be under-estimated. The two areas I have focussed on is using existing online networking platforms and creating my own networking opportunities directly with intermediaries. PCD has been an excellent platform for us to engage with professionals in the niche private client areas and showcase our expertise.

We view the current environment as an opportunity to produce digital content, be involved in webinars and create useful content for our clients and intermediaries.

6. What's your top tip for working from home?

Give structure to your day and make sure you get out of the house. I do some of my best thinking when I'm walking the dog or getting a coffee. Combine this with regular informal meetings with your boss and colleagues. A combination of free thinking time and the ability to discuss my thoughts informally have produced some of my best ideas for the business.

Secondly make sure you are comfortable. Comfortable physically with your desk setup but also comfortable with your background and surroundings. Get honest feedback on your video conferencing style and setup. What do clients or colleagues see when they video call you? Raising my camera angle and moving my notes from the desk in front of me to electronically on the screen has improved my digital pitching style enormously.

7. What advice would you give to a young professional moving jobs within the private wealth sector during a pandemic?

Look for a business that focusses on client needs and is both willing and capable of adapting to the changing world of private wealth. It's a good sign if, like Waverton, a firm is using the pandemic as an opportunity to take stock and create a solid business plan taking into account the way we have evolved to look after clients.


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