By Mike Foy, Chief Executive – Utmost Group Isle of Man
We all have made contingencies for what happens when things don’t go as planned, but it’s not until you’re in a situation for real that you know whether they will work and what the impact will be. Will we still be able to meet the high service standards we set ourselves, for instance? Will technology hold up?
Unlike some situations, with the coronavirus pandemic we had some notice that our working, and personal, lives would change. We had time to take stock to some degree and put in place plans to keep the organisation running as close to normal as possible.
With immense teamwork and commitment, all necessary remote working arrangements were set up in a short space of time. This of course brought challenges ranging from maintaining effective communication and support, through to ensuring we had sufficient bandwidth and server capability to support this degree of remote working. Our people at Utmost really rose to the challenge and have continued to deliver the Gold standard service for which we have become recognised.
This entire process has demonstrated Utmost’s commitment to putting the customer first. This has been recognised by the advisers who do business with us and their clients. It was highly motivating for our people to hear the feedback that, within the offshore bond market, our service and communication through this pandemic has been second to none.
Operating remotely has driven the use of further digital technology to support customer service, such as forms that can be completed and signed digitally. These developments will drive a change in established business practices as we move towards a hybrid of old and new within the post-Covid working environment.
As the only independent international life assurance business with a Fitch “A” Insurer Financial Strength Rating, our strength and stability have been key in providing advisers and their clients with reassurance during what is a testing and anxious time. It was especially pleasing to have this “A” rating reaffirmed recently based on Fitch’s current assessment of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Providing support to our advisers was also a key focus. This has been achieved via a number of activities including a series of webinars attracting a global audience of up to 250 at each event. While we always planned to host a series of global webinars in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic brought this into sharper focus and accelerated our plans. Following this success, we will be carrying out more of this activity as we return to whatever becomes normal in the future.
So, what will ‘normal’ look like? Probably some of what it was like before, but with many of the changes and improvements we have made over recent weeks to ensure that we could deliver a quality service to our partners and clients within a different working environment.
We aim to make a Wealth of Difference. Our people have fully embraced this through their commitment and enthusiasm and I applaud them all.