Momentum from Home: Interview with Group CEO

Published: 09 Apr 2020




Group CEO Stewart Davies does miss the office “for sure” but the switch to working from home has been relatively smooth, despite the challenges of lockdowns and investment market volatility.

Just one member of staff continues to work in the Malta office and two in the Manchester office – appropriately socially distanced. Everyone else is working from home and the company is now meeting up for virtual socials to keep in touch.

“We had our business continuity plan in place, hoping we never had to use it – effectively it’s been a matter of moving everyone to work remotely, with Malta the first to make the move followed by Manchester and the other offices.

“We have been very communicative with advisers and members.  New business is still being written and enquiries are being received.  We are having lots of calls proactively reaching out to advisers.

“Feedback has been very positive. Advisers and members have appreciated the level of communication and they have welcomed the roll-out of electronic signatures, which is now available on all pension and investment forms for advisers and members.

“We have been able to accept more email confirmations for instructions to make it easier for members and advisers. As long as we have a verified email address, we are happy to accept them. It is all about being flexible and adapting to the new way of working.

“Very few consumers have access to printers and scanners so enabling them to use electronic signatures and email acceptances makes life easier.”

Market volatility has been an issue. “With any volatility, you will get some panic. But there are as many buyers as sellers. The difference this time is that coronavirus is an unknown factor – other times you can point to the problem and how it can be solved. This time you cannot – it’s a public health issue rather than past moral hazard issues.”

Adapting to the new way of working has not been entirely easy. “For some parts of the business such as finance and compliance, working from home is relatively straightforward while for others, such as administration, it takes getting used to. Team interaction day-to-day is crucial.

“Working from home can cause new types of stress issues for people as separating work from home is difficult. That is why we’re having virtual team events, quiz sessions and other fun activities so we can all get together as a group.

“The first phase has focused on working remotely and the longer this goes on we may have to reset. Once it is all over, we may have to look at the way we do business and maybe how people commute to work.

“However, everyone I have spoken to in other businesses, who are working from home, want to be back in the office.

“Personally, I have been used to working from home in the past for short periods of time. This is definitely not the same and while we have adapted well, I look forward to getting back to the office.”

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