The Model Office Blog

Social distancing does not mean social isolation

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 10, 2020 1:16:08 PM / by Chris Davies

Having lived through Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Hong Kong I seem to have a deja vu with COVID-19 and social distancing upon us as we move towards a period of uncertainty where the most basic of human instincts, connecting face to face to learn and explore collaboration may be curtailed for a number of weeks or even months. We are running a webinar on this Friday 20th 11am which you can sign up for here 

So here are our thoughts on how to move forwards with composure, integrity and transparency.

The world we operate in is full of risks and risk management is a pre-requisite now for firms to survive and thrive and showcase professional practice. The FCA define risk as ‘the combination of impact (potential harm caused) and probability (likelihood of issue or event occurring)’.

 There are significant benefits to risk management:

  • Improve governance across compliance, conduct, competency
  • Increase the likelihood of achieving the organisation’s goals
  • Provide assurance and stakeholder confidence and trust
  • Establish a reliable basis for decision making and planning
  • Improve organisational resilience
  • Effectively allocate and use resources for risk treatment
  • Establish enhanced decision-making which in-turn will provide benefits by way of improvements in the efficiency of organisational operations, effectiveness of tactics (change processes) and the efficacy of the overall organisational strategy

Where a national and global health and financial challenge is concerned firms now should:

  • Focus on engaging their clients and re-assuring them that services and portfolios are risk assessed, managed and monitored
  • Re-assure staff and follow NHS guidance on cleanliness of premises and social distancing
  • Employ RegTech to ensure they identify, manage and monitor risks across the business plus using technology will minimise interpersonal interaction 

Once completed, firms can then better assess a way forward with their business and clients across:

  • Review a strategy for individual contact for example it could be wise to cease handshaking, keeping a distance and limit close social contact and ensure any staff or clients with a fever, cold or flu symptoms stay home. We’re advocating the Vulcan greeting; ‘Live Long and Prosper’
  • Ensure the principles of individual cleanliness are communicated such as hand washing and not touch your eyes, nose or mouth, plus read up on WHO Q&A
  • Design and employ a triage strategy when engaging clients to find out if a meeting is necessary or not. Advisers can then contact the client and assess how best to help the client 
  • Once triage is completed engage clients through virtual technology such as Skype, Zoom, and running online reviews and meetings plus use FinTech applications such as Client Portals, Cash flow modelling or Robo-Advice 
  • Develop content led syndication across social media, blogs, opinion pieces, video to re-assure clients
  • Work smart with staff working from home as necessary or developing shifts to minimise travel and personal interaction for staff and use webinar tech to hold team or conference meets.
  • Support home working by offering guidance around daily work routine and engagement, mental fatigue and anxiety management, support tools such as computers, cellphones and webex access
  • If consultants or Non-Exec Directors are employed then their engagements need to be assessed and a view taken on whether they need to self isolate for 14 days  before returning having visited other 'at risk' premises. 

Along with SARS, COVID-19 requires a sensible and practical strategy. Business as usual should continue until we hear otherwise, but by applying some tweaks to existing practice as above will provide re-assurance to your staff and your clients.

Live Long and Prosper...

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Topics: Benchmark, compliance, client centric, Financial regulation, Financial business development, fintech, regtech, Risk management, practice management, FCA, advice, HMT, suitability, FAMR, MiFIDII, SMCR, Data, Culture, Enforcement, supervision, audit, Conduct, AI, Risk,, Accountability, Platforms, PROD, Product governance, digital,, Regulatory, Reporting, HRD, PII

Chris Davies

Written by Chris Davies

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