Coronavirus update. Please read.
It seems only a short while since our last update. In fact, at the time of posting this version, it’s been 12 weeks since our last communication.
The world has certainly changed since we completely vacated our Manchester office, just before the nation’s official lock-down on 23rd March. As the Government struggles with the unenviable task of deciding how and at what pace to release us from our various forms of enforced isolation, you may well be wondering what we propose to do next and how this will affect the delivery of our service to you. In short, whilst we keep things under constant review, we don’t expect to make any fundamental changes to the ‘new normal’ for some time yet. We consider it our duty to abide by the Government’s current guidelines. Where businesses and their employees can function whilst working from home we’re advised that they should continue to do so. That’s what we aim to do, whilst planning as best we can for a return to the office, when the green light is finally given. There are still plenty of unknowns but our main imperative remains keeping all colleagues and clients as safe as possible. That means not meeting face-to-face but continuing to make best use of the technology at our disposal. We hear stories from clients and friends of keeping in touch with friends and family via video conferencing, more regularly and with perhaps even with more enthusiasm than when it was previously possible to meet face-to-face. An example perhaps of how things have changed and in doing so thrown the focus onto what’s truly important.
If not much has changed from our end, then why the update?
We just want to make sure that all our clients appreciate that we continue to look after their interests during this extended lockdown period. As we’ve previously highlighted, we still have no access at all to physical paper documents (whether they would normally enter or leave our business). Also, we can’t accept cheques representing fresh investments or as a means of paying our fees. If you’ve sent us anything in the post over the last 12 weeks or so and you were expecting a reply or some action as a result, it’s worth giving us a call or sending us an email. We’ll have to make arrangements to deal with each other electronically. We know that a very small number of clients simply haven’t previously felt the need to move beyond using physical cheques, so being asked now to change a habit of a lifetime can be unsettling. That said, we know that all mainstream banks will be able to make arrangements for their customers to make payments electronically, through phone banking services at the very least. If you’re keen to send money to us to invest or to settle an invoice, please do look into the options available to you, via your bank, for electronic payments.
It's probably worth just reminding you that you should never email information of a personal nature to us. We have a secure client portal for the use of clients, to keep your personal data safe. It’s a sad fact that, even as the world’s attention is turned towards fighting a global pandemic, some are focused on increasing their cyber-crime activities. It’s best not to make the criminals’ job any easier by treating unprotected email as if it's secure. If you’re unfamiliar with how a portal might work, please do get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you get started.
We know that not all attempts at completing and signing documents electronically have been without their challenges. Present circumstances have revealed some surprising glitches with mainstream software applications. Even now, a number of major financial services businesses we deal with on behalf of some clients insist on a physical, ‘wet’ signature on their forms. These are perhaps the businesses whose best years are behind them. If you’re a client who’s struggled to adapt to the necessary changes to our processes forced upon us – perhaps using some forms of technology for the first time - we promise to do our best to find answers to your particular practical problems. Please do get in touch. Chances are that you’re not suffering alone and we may well have already found a solution to your problem for another client.
On a personal level, we hope that you will appreciate that many of our co-owners have family caring responsibilities as well as business-focused ones. This may mean that someone you typically deal with is working amended hours to accommodate a range of obligations. A colleague may be working reduced hours, or hours outside the formal working day or, in extremis, may even need to take an agreed sabbatical to accommodate their particular family circumstances. Rest assured, we’ll do our best to make sure that your needs, as our client, are not compromised during this unusual time. If any of these arrangements are likely to have an impact on you we’ll make sure we get in touch.
In the meantime, we hope that you’re keeping safe and well and that the next time we need to get in touch in this way will be to share some positive news about returning to more normal working conditions. Thank you for your continuing support as our client. My fellow co-owners and I are acutely aware that the continued success of our business is entirely reliant on continuing to meet your expectations.