By David Kneeshaw, CEO, RL360
As Covid-19 became a presence in our lives we were caught, like many I suspect, between reacting to ‘the noise’ around the world and the official advice of Governments, in particular the Isle of Man where most of our staff are based.
It rapidly became clear that we would have to move swiftly and a Crisis Management Committee was set up meeting 3 times a week, working alongside our Executive Team ‘meeting’ on a weekly basis.
We identified 2 key objectives:
- Keep staff safe
- Maintained a high level of service to customers and financial advisers
These have continued to be our guiding principles through the pandemic. All the while recognizing that we need to maintain standards of governance and keep all our other stakeholders happy, in particular shareholders, and regulators. Here I focus on how we’ve helped advisers and policyholders.
Flexibility and technology
We introduced more flexibility to existing processes, fast-tracked new processes and highlighted existing technology that could make life easier in the changed circumstances.
We introduced the acceptance of digital signatures through DocuSign and AdobeSign and we converted all our forms to type-in PDF for quicker completion. We promoted the benefits of our secure Online Service Centre (OSC). We’ve seen a significant increase in customer and adviser visits to the OSC. We expect those who’ve used the online solution for the first time to continue to do so.
Keeping in touch with our advisers has been key. Sales and Marketing have been very proactive in contacting advisers with the latest news, training opportunities and helping with the challenges advisers are facing. We’ve actually upped our advertising spend during COVID19.
Additionally, we’ve made greater use of technology such as Zoom to contact advisers and deliver even more technical, product and fund training. Zoom is our new friend.
The wider community
As has been often said over these last few months, we’re all in this together. We’ve felt more strongly than ever that we are part of the wider communities in which we operate. So we’ve supported those communities, be that through substantial charitable donations, paying our invoices as quickly as possible or continuing – or increasing – our spend with local suppliers.
What the future holds
Longer term, as some normality returns as the pandemic loosens its grip, the world will have changed forever.
Even before COVID19 we saw a consolidation of adviser companies, with smaller firms closing, being acquired by larger firms or joining networks. COVID19 will accelerate this process.
The adoption of new technologies will continue. While face-to-face meetings will return, we’ve all found that we can interact through Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Costly and time-consuming business travel, and in-person delivery of product and technical training in particular, are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels. Although all will still be needed.
We’re also expecting some changes in customer attitudes too. Some investors have seen their pension pots hit and may be forced to push back their retirement. Others will see the need to make financial provision for their future an even higher priority. Regular Premium business, with uncertainties around job security and the wider economy, may be a challenge for some but a heightened priority for others.
We anticipate there will be greater focus on responsible investing and a surge in demand for ESG investments. Many people saw their perspectives and priorities shift during the pandemic and we expect that will continue in how people choose to invest in the future.
Of course, there’s always opportunity and we expect the offshore market to prove resilient and bounce back strongly. The fundamental reason for our existence is as relevant as ever, possibly even more so.
Bringing us together
So while COVID19 has had the effect of dividing us physically, it certainly hasn’t managed to conquer us. It has allowed us to think differently about how we work and, no doubt, many of the changes we have made will become normal ways of working.
Watch David discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the industry and how RL360 have adapted to meet these challenges here.