Coronavirus update – you need to read this (please):
Since our first announcement about our preparations for dealing with the challenges of the Coronavirus situation, our Executive Committee has continued to meet virtually to discuss each development in this emerging national situation. As I hope we’ve illustrated to date, we’ve not hesitated to take the action we believe has been best able to protect our co-owners and their families, whilst also recognising fully the very important role we perform for each of our clients.
Our last update indicated that we had been quick to reduce the density of people working in our Manchester office and had already moved to home-working in the case of most of our people. Prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement last night (23/3/20), that the UK economy is effectively being put on hold, with the movement of everyone to be restricted severely for at least three weeks, we had already decided to mothball our office and move to complete home-working for all of our co-owners. Since we were fairly early in recognising how serious this situation could become, we’ve had time to settle into the new way of working and to make sure that all connections function as they should.
At the time of writing, I’m pleased to say that we seem to be able to carry on as we would have hoped. Home offices are now well and truly up and running and each of us is adjusted to the idea of working physically remotely from our colleagues for what will probably be a period of many weeks, if not months.
We’re fortunate in that we have a business which can be operated in this way, albeit that the ‘personal touch’ can be more challenging when the option of a face-to-face meeting has been completely removed. In order to make this way of operating a complete success we need to ask our clients to play their part. In particular:
1. Please don’t send us any physical post. There won’t be anyone in the office to receive it. If you have sent post to us recently and are unsure whether we might have received it, please get in touch and we’ll check;
2. Please do use email and the telephone to make contact with us. We’ll do the same with you. All our usual phone numbers and email addresses remain operational. As previously mentioned, if there’s more than one of you and you need to speak to one or more of us, we have plenty of conference call lines to make available for the purpose. If you still prefer to see the whites of the eyes of the people you’re discussing money with, we have options for video calling too;
3. If you have something containing sensitive personal information to send to us please make use of our secure client portal. You can even sign documents electronically this way, so there really is no need for paper. To be clear, never send details you wouldn’t ordinarily want to share with a stranger via a simple email – it’s not secure;
4. Please don’t send us a cheque. Most of our clients don’t send cheques these days anyway, but the option to pay by cheque now needs to be revoked. We’ll let you have bank account details to make electronic payments;
I hope it goes without saying that all of the co-owners at Castlefield are extremely focused on making sure that we keep doing what you expect of us. We can’t influence directly investment markets or government policy but we can do our utmost to react speedily and professionally to events as they emerge. We believe very much that this is what we’re doing. We know that this is a worrying time for everyone so if you feel that a chat with your usual Castlefield contact would help to settle any concerns you have then please do get in touch. Afterall, our (virtual) door remains very much open.