Will Green from Business Brief Guernsey speaks to Caroline Prow about Equiom’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.
How is Equiom responding to the Covid-19 crisis?
We are shocked and saddened at the magnitude of this medical crisis. However, we are responding proactively and positively.
When it comes to family wealth and succession planning, our clients have turned to us for advice and guidance for more than 40 years and we look forward to continuing these relationships long into the future. This is not the first time Equiom has helped its clients to navigate through global turmoil and we have learned a great deal from past experiences. This started as a medical crisis, not a financial crisis, and thanks to our robust structure, forward planning, responsiveness and making use of the latest technology, we are in a very strong position to mitigate the economic impact.
While there is no doubt that Covid-19 has impacted our way of working, I am proud to say that we continue to deliver our excellent service and we are very much ensuring business as usual for our clients. We are lucky to be part of an international group which enables us to provide multijurisdictional solutions to our clients and access to a wealth of knowledge and experience in conjunction with our colleagues across the globe.
How is the business and its staff adapting and how has technology played a part?
We were well placed; the majority of our staff have been working from home for several weeks now and all business travel was suspended in early March. Our group business continuity team has been closely monitoring the situation and comprehensive planning has enabled us to continue serving our clients, despite the move to remote working, with no reduction in service levels.
We have an excellent global IT team, extremely resilient infrastructure and on-call support. We arranged a test run of the whole business working from home before it became necessary and thankfully our networks were able to upscale and cope with the demand.
As a business, we regularly use video conferencing to communicate with our colleagues dispersed across 20 jurisdictions and this has now been rolled out to every member of staff to ensure regular quality communication between colleagues and with their clients. Cybersecurity, information security and data protection are key focuses for Equiom and we have processes in place to ensure we are as secure as ever despite remote working.
While we continue to run our business in these ‘new normal’ conditions and maintain service standards, protecting our staff is a fundamental priority. Regular and transparent communication to all staff is essential. We are navigating through this as a team, ensuring any questions, ideas, observations and concerns are addressed as they arise. Our staff have been well supported to work from home, with flexible work patterns offered to those who need it and weekly ‘stay connected’ emails from HR providing advice and support. As the self-isolation and social distancing rules have been more strongly enforced, mental health has also been an important consideration. We all rely on text and email under normal circumstances, but a video or voice call to check-in is now more valuable than ever and is strongly encouraged and widely used by our teams.
What changes have we noticed with our clients?
Our clients primarily engage with us for estate planning and wealth preservation services - so they are with us for the long term. We are certainly not seeing any clients exiting from our services; instead we are seeing clients wishing to diversify their risk, for example by opening additional bank or investment accounts. We have also restructured some trusts to take account of beneficiaries relocating. One beneficiary moved to the USA at short notice to be with his family before the lockdowns came into force and thanks to our USA trust licence, we were able to accommodate his needs quickly and easily. We have been proactive with our approach – contacting clients to suggest where and how we can support them.
So Equiom is in this for the long term?
We are a resilient business and will continue to support and service our clients long into the future. We have been encouraged at the collective positive response from our clients and our staff and are proud of our success in navigating this difficult situation which has truly been the result of our collaborative team support.