Give 'em what they want 

During times such as this, it is actually not that easy to draft commentary which does not, in the end, sound worse than trite or is simply so anodyne that it becomes white noise, a meaningless backdrop to the mayhem and angst that currently defines the media and the markets.  Logging on to platforms, today, in order to assist our own clients with aspects of their investment planning, one is reminded in the starkest terms of the economic consequences of a very tiny piece of viral DNA.

In the midst of our client focus, I have noted that my email inbox is filling up more rapidly than usual with special offers.  Booking.com want me to book my holiday and flights - which seems a perverse marketing initiative, when our airports have largely become enormous parking lots.  A large mobile phone network would like to encourage myself and my wife to visit the cinema.  Goldsmiths the jewellers think that our priority is going to be pendant necklaces.  Crew Clothing clearly think that the public will want to break the strictures of self-isolation in order to ensure that we are kitted out in all the latest gear.  Perhaps hospitals are now applying dress codes for admission - treatment will be withheld from people whose chinos don't display evidence of careful pressing?

Of course, all of this is a particular kind of irrelevance.  When the supermarket shelves have apparently been attacked by an enormous, rampaging hoover, one tends to have other priorities on one's mind.  Thankfully, our local brewery has offered to provide home deliveries and pick-ups of empty bottles - that seems to me to be a very appropriate contribution.

All of which frivolity brings me to the serious point of this blogpost:  given that, for the immediate future, all of us are going to be labouring under certain constraints, it is even more important than normal to think carefully about our service offering, and how we are best able to deliver on our promises to clients.  Making this kind of definition clear needs to be baked into your routine client communications - which means, as we move onto a 'War Footing' a very specific consideration of the kinds of focus which are going to make the biggest, constructive difference for our clients.  In this context, I would emphasise such matters as reassurance, adherence to sensible fiscal disciplines, careful monitoring of rebalancing exercises, using your annual review process as the means for keeping in touch, monitoring emails whilst in self-isolation.  Clients are not going to  want face-to-face meetings at the present time, but they will certainly want contact with you.

If you are a ValidPath Member, you should already be aware of the guidance we published a week ago, to assist you in framing your approach to the current crisis.  There is not much else we can add here, other than to suggest that you:

  • ensure you are keeping hydrated (regular sips of tap-water)
  • supplement with Vitamins C & D
  • get fresh air exercise when you can
  • listen to relaxing music
  • work through in some detail the kind of background business planning which is normally subject to indefinite deferral - so that you are ready to hit the ground running when things return to 'normal'.
Kevin Moss, 18/03/2020