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Comment: Rising to the challenge of Covid

16 September 2020

Could the Coronavirus crisis actually turn out to be good for financial planning firms? Anecdotal evidence is pointing that way, says Caroline Stuart, director of Sparrow Paraplanning and PFS Board member.

First published in the September 2020 issue of Professional Paraplanner.

It’s been a funny old year, hasn’t it? Six months ago, most of us would never have even heard of furlough, viral load, PPE or social distancing before, yet here they are in our everyday conversations like they’ve always been there.

Lockdown, when it did arrive, came as a massive shock. I think, like many people, I just thought, well that won’t ever happen here, but of course it did, and we all found ourselves having to learn and cope with not just a whole new way of working but a whole new way of living.

Sometimes it feels like things are getting back to some sort of normality, I know some people, myself included, have returned to the office. I personally wasn’t a massive fan of working from home, but that’s only because I’m living in a bit of a building site at the moment which believe me is not compatible with trying to be an effective paraplanner.

I’m under no illusion that I’ve had a fairly easy time of it though. Some people have really struggled, whether it’s with the working from home, being isolated or sadly losing someone close to them.

Understandably, at the start of lockdown, it felt like the whole country went into shock. Everyone was told to stay at home, and everything just seemed to stop. We’ve all seen the footage of nature taking back over – deserted towns where herds of goats invaded and were now ruling the streets. It felt like we were in some sort of dystopian movie where you’d be forgiven for half expecting Brad Pitt or Will Smith to turn up with a miracle cure.

For many, I think it gave them time to reflect and assess what’s important to them and then decide to do something about it. Once people began to emerge from the ‘shock’ phase, with their newly established order of what actually is important in life, they started seeking the people who could help – financial planners.

Following the initial and inevitable lockdown paralysis, people I spoke to just a few months ago who were really worried about their business and for whom work had literally ‘fallen off a cliff’ are now telling me they’ve never been busier.

As paraplanners, our role is to work with the financial planner to help clients understand what they want in life, and then plot out a way for them to achieve it. Never has this been a more appropriate time to do so.  We are going to be in an unusual state of flux for the foreseeable future, and it’s  likely to also be a challenging time for many from a financial and economical point of view, but don’t forget, this is what we do.

Clients are coming to us because they are unsure of their financial future, they want peace of mind and just to feel that everything is going to be ok. With still so much uncertainty out there, we probably won’t be able to give them all the answers but we will be able to at least start them on their journey by giving them high quality financial planning and advice.

We are able to do this because many businesses have moved heaven and earth to complete infrastructure and logistical changes of gargantuan proportions to the way they work to ensure clients still receive great service, whilst ensuring the safety of their teams.

Because of this, all the paraplanners I have spoken to over the last few months are still able to do a fantastic job for their clients, helping to give them that peace of mind they are craving.  Whilst it has been a scary, challenging and worrying time for all, just remember, you are doing an amazing job, and should be very proud!

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