In Your Shoes
Chris Forde is Head of Financial Planning at Thorntons Wealth. Thorntons Wealth are based in Dundee, Edinburgh and Aberdeen providing Financial Planning services.
This article was written for Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce – click here to view the article on their website.
Monday – no need to unmute.
The week for me starts and ends with a morning meeting with the leadership team to hear what our plans are for the week ahead and to hear about any mishaps from the weekend. No trips to A&E this time. Next up was meeting 3 colleagues for the first time in person that I had only spoken to on video calls since joining Thorntons Wealth. It was great to see them and not have to remember to unmute myself before speaking with them! It’s very strange seeing someone you have only seen on your screen. We had our Monday morning weekly financial planning team for an update on the previous week and what is on the radar for the week ahead. It was nice to speak to some in person and some on a video call. I find communication is important to ensure everyone knows what is going on. Another meeting with three different colleagues to check on progress for moving clients from one business to another as the end of my former business is in sight. Three months of hard work is drawing to a close. Today was definitely more of a business day than client day as I had no client meetings although I did manage to process some work for clients who have given the green light on some advice delivered last week.
I had the novelty of being able to meet up with my wife for a child free lunch today at Empire State Coffee on Whitehall Crescent- hopefully not the last time – it’s been at least 6 months since we last got out by ourselves. I can recommend the peanut butter stack although it does now mean I feel the need to go to the gym for the first time in over a year tonight! It was great to see life around Dundee with the easing of restrictions enabling local businesses to re-open following the latest lock down!
Tuesday – blink of an eye.
It was another office day today to meet more colleagues in person. Today was definitely one of those days that went past in the blink of an eye. I had a client meeting this morning carried out over the telephone. This was to discuss the review pack recently received by the client to confirm objectives for the investments, reaffirm the recently completed risk assessment, ensure that the products in use remain suitable and to get an update from the client on their future plans to see if they remain on track. This review focused more on getting the clients to think more on what they want out of retirement with a view to drawing up a cash flow plan to help visualise their financial future. The remainder of the day focused on business planning as we have a lot going on. We have been preparing a communication to clients which we expect to release next week and continue to fine tune the recently installed back office system that helps us manage our client information.
I managed to get to the gym last night for a swim. Will I make it two days in a row? Probably not.
Wednesday – puppy dog shredder.
Today was a work from home day. I didn’t make the gym last night… no surprise.
I am fortunate I have a good set up at home with my dual screen, printer, scanner and comfy workstation. My focus today was closing off recent annual reviews with clients ensuring their files are in good order. I also had video calls with colleagues to discuss some pressing topics which include how we should be dealing with non UK resident clients. This is as a result of Brexit and needs careful consideration. We need to ensure we stay on the right side of the regulation while also not wanting our clients to be disadvantaged. It is certainly a tough one. The day is broken up for me with small breaks away from the desk to deal with the family pets including the 11 week old pup. I have discovered she has a use as a shredder in between trying to chew on anything else that happens to be in her reach. I ended the day organising a trip to Aberdeen tomorrow to meet other colleagues in person and to continue developing new investment propositions for our clients.
Tonight I have a committee meeting where I am the chairperson for our local hall. We are planning the first meeting in over a year which is not held via Zoom!!
Thursday – Kaizen.
I spent the day in Aberdeen meeting my new colleagues today. I am glad I am good at maintaining social distancing and good hygiene having been in the office environment more this week than any other over the past year or so although it was the third time this week I almost poured my coffee over my face as I forgot I had my face mask on! I was glad no one else at the train station spotted this. This was another full business planning day looking at ways we can improve on our proposition to our existing clients while also thinking ahead about potential future clients. The industry and regulations do not stand still and it is important that as a business we keep up with these changes and when possible, be a step ahead of them. I am always looking at ways in which we can improve the business to make it more efficient while still maintaining high client service levels. I believe in the Japanese approach of Kaizen which means ‘continuous improvement’. This was something I bought into while studying Business Studies from the age of 14. It means to continuously improve your operations while involving your employees. I ended the day back on the train working on a spreadsheet to help prepare a mail merge for a communication being sent out to clients this week. Microsoft Excel… the marmite of computer programmes. For the record, I love it…. Excel that is. I can’t stand marmite.
Friday – What a week!
Another office day today. We end the week as we start with a team meeting followed by some continuous professional development looking at protection policies for our clients then I am straight into another meeting with our compliance colleagues around our suitability process for the financial planning team. The rest of the day was spent on working through emails from yesterday and planning for next week so I can be prepared for carrying out annual reviews with a couple of clients. Like the review on Tuesday, the purpose of these is to get updates from my clients to check we are on track with their planning and to identify if we need to make any changes. I know one of these reviews will be for a client who recently spent some time in hospital and has contributed to him thinking about changing his target retirement date bringing it forward most likely on a phased retirement. We will be exploring his affordability of doing this and identifying what impact, if any, it will have on his retirement income when he does fully hang up his pencil. This is made possible by utilising our cash flow planning software.
Hopefully the next few weeks will see me spend more client facing time as we continue to work through the business requirements.
I will be finishing now for a bank holiday weekend and to spend some time with my family. I hope to get out for a spot of fishing with my son and I know the kids are wanting to have a sleep over in the caravan. It is always nice to have something fun to look forward to after a long week.