Mark Porter, Equiom’s CEO, joined the business a year ago (June 2020) when we were all coming to terms with navigating a very different working world. Here he shares 12 things he’s learned over the past 12 months.
What does work/life balance mean today? Consider this; for years there has been this constant drive to achieve something called ‘work/life balance’ in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But what does that mean now and what has the last year taught me/us? Rather than force a difficult disconnection between the two worlds, I’d suggest that those of us who have accepted a more symbiotic relationship between work and ‘life’ have likely fared better psychologically than those who have fought against it. Equiom’s new policy of ‘work where you want, when you want’ certainly encourages that approach.
Importance of engagement. The last year has taught us all how vital it is to maintain connections with family and colleagues as often as we can. For me, this engagement has been a constant theme in my career; when I have felt disillusioned or demotivated, re-engaging has had a major impact on how I feel about both work and life generally. I cannot emphasise how valuable this has been to me, and in this last year I have been astounded by the efforts our people have made to maintain that engagement level and keep colleagues connected. What a team!
Trusting your colleagues. In a working environment where physical presence has become more the exception than the rule, the element of trust in our working relationships has never been more significant. I have seen trusted relationships form and be nurtured in the last year or so, initially through necessity but now developing into a cultural norm. Long may it continue.
Our role in advising clients. Now more than ever, the fiduciary services sector has a critical role to play in advising and supporting clients with their wealth and asset protection needs. My experience with the Equiom team to date tells me that our outstanding practitioners take this responsibility extremely seriously and are well placed to help clients navigate the emerging macro themes which do, and will continue to, impact their lives.
Communicate with clients. When times are difficult, pick up the phone. The world may have turned online but relationships are at the heart of everything we do and communication is key to a successful relationship. Some conversations are just easier to have over the phone or (virtually) face to face and it’s important to recognise when it’s time for a good old fashioned chat.
All about tax? Not anymore. Of course any strategy designed to protect wealth has to consider tax leakage and the potential advantages and disadvantages of different structures or different jurisdictions. But rarely in the last year or so have I heard of a client requesting anything from us exclusively for tax reasons. Our industry still has work to do to brush off this common misperception.
Learning to adapt to changing work practices and client objectives. I am a firm believer that standing still is the equivalent of going backwards. At Equiom, yes we focus on what we’re good at but we’re also very aware that adapting to a changing environment is not only strategically sensible but we also owe it to our clients. Because if we don’t, we won’t have them for much longer.
Bringing industry partners together to solve client problems. Our clients draw on the expertise of a number of specialist advisors across the sector, but I have seen how true value can be added to the client when those different stakeholders work together to help solve client problems. So it’s not a case of stepping on each other’s toes, as many are fearful of, but rather working as a partnership to manage client risk.
Shareholder commitment. It has been hugely comforting to have the backing of Värde Partners, a truly strategic investor who recognises the important role people play in long term business value creation. That value comes from having the ability to invest in people and infrastructure, and to do so over a strategic time horizon. Our ownership model allows us to deliver on that strategy.
Technology as an enabler. Equiom, like many firms, has adapted to this new remote environment while maintaining a level of data protection and security that our various stakeholders expect and our clients deserve. What a reminder the last year has been that we must keep investing in innovative and robust technology and pursue an agile operating environment.
Uncover talent when you can’t see it. We’re only able to unlock talent when we give people the opportunity to succeed. So often, talent is stifled by conservatism, protectionist leadership or closed mindedness. I have seen a huge pool of talent in only a limited time at Equiom and I will make it my personal mission to create the opportunities for it to be unleashed.
Being respectful…Of others’ space, time and mental health. The last 12 months have taught me to be more considerate and more tolerant of external factors which influence the working environment. Our people are our greatest asset; their wellbeing will always come first and we are working hard to ensure everyone has the support and flexibility they need to manage their lives better.