Capital International Group| Covid 19 Blog Series| August 2020

Making difficult decisions and making them quickly has always been key to Chamber member, Capital International's success, not only in surviving the pandemic but in thriving through it. Today Gavin Parry, Operations Director, tells us how and why Capital International overcame challenges and thrived throughout lock down and beyond.

Date: Monday 24 August 2020

Capital International Group - Putting People before Profits

Making difficult decisions and making them quickly has been key to Chamber member, Capital International's success, not only in surviving the pandemic but in thriving through it. Today Gavin Parry, Operations Director, tells us how and why Capital International overcame challenges and thrived throughout lockdown and beyond. 

Gavin Parry tells us;

Making difficult decisions and making them quickly has been key to our success, not only in surviving the pandemic but in thriving through it, as new business continued to flow during the lockdown period. Shaping our response to the crisis were three priorities which were set out by the board of directors in March:

Protect our people 

Protect our clients  

Protect our cash 

Establishing these priorities allowed us to act assertively at a time when indecision may have posed a threat to our business. Between the 16th and 20th March, we managed to move all but a few of our employees to remote working. This was long before the lockdown was imposed on the Isle of Man (26th March) and well ahead of many other local businesses.

With our people safely away from the office, next on the agenda was protecting jobs. Interest rates were slashed in March to near zero and with stock markets at the time heavily affected by the uncertainty of the pandemic, our projected profits suffered as a result. While other firms looked to make redundancies after seeing their  forecasted  figures for the year, through prudent management of our  finances, we have thankfully avoided having to let any of our employees go.

All Systems Go 

Our IT set-up put us in a prime position for homeworking. We operate on a virtual desktop platform which allowed our staff to access company systems from any secured device with an internet connection.

The transition to homeworking required an immense amount of organisation. Our IT teams needed to ascertain which pieces of equipment would be required by over 150 members of staff for them to work to their normal capacity at home. Cables, routers and boosters were ordered in and distributed to staff before they left the office, with any extra equipment needed hand-delivered by our IT teams, the result being the seamless continuation of service throughout the transition from office to home working

Staff Wellbeing 

Just as important as client service was the wellbeing of our employees. To combat the effects of limited social contact, we organised numerous initiatives which helped to keep our staff engaged.

Online exercise classes were introduced twice a week, and our directors delivered regular video updates to keep staff informed and provide much-needed reassurance. Daily team meetings were also encouraged, and we held virtual drinks on a Friday as a light-hearted way to end the working week.

To make sure staff felt appreciated for their continued hard work, we introduced lockdown badges which could be awarded through our HR system. Anyone who received a badge was put forward for a lockdown award, with the prize-giving ceremony streamed live from Capital House to our other offices and homes around the world. The badges proved popular; more than 300 were awarded in the space of 3 months! We hope to maintain these levels, with the badges now forming the basis of our refreshed approach to staff appreciation.

Client Service

When clients look back at these times, they’ll remember the providers that didn’t shy away but stood up to the challenges they were faced with. Markets suffered hugely as a result of the pandemic. The initial fall was staggering, and investors around the world saw significant reductions in the value of their assets overnight.

Knowing that this would be a testing time for our clients, we encouraged our staff to go the extra mile to help lay their concerns to rest. In most cases, the worst thing an investor could do would be to panic and sell at a low price. To avoid this, we provided reassurance to our clients in the form of regular email updates as well as reaching out to individuals by phone.

The “New Normal” 

There are many learnings that we as a business have taken from the lockdown, some of which have already significantly improved the efficiency of our day to day operations. Homeworking sped up the digitisation of our processes, so much so that we now operate an almost entirely paperless back-office, and all of our client meetings are being held digitally, something we hope to offer as an option for future contact.

Having proven that our IT infrastructure, our business practices and our control environment can all effectively support homeworking, a consideration for the future is whether all of our teams still need to be in the office 9-5.

Throughout the pandemic, we found that homeworking led to an increase in productivity, our control environment remained robust and our staff stayed fully connected via the many digital applications we have available for engagement. With this in mind, we are currently conducting a role review to determine which roles need to be office based and which could become either partially or fully remote.

Whether it’s the digitisation of procedures or increased flexibility in terms of remote working, we are now in the process of fine-tuning our business for a new kind of world. To adapt requires change, and while there will undoubtedly be changes made to how we operate, what will not alter is our unwavering commitment to our dedicated staff and valued clients.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security.