Coping with a new crisis

13 May 2020

By Natalie Harrison, Head of Investment Marketing

When COVID-19 first impacted businesses, Signature reacted swiftly and decisively, moving into an agile way of operating, ensuring we could provide the support our clients needed at that time and indeed long into the future. In this article, we caught up with Elaine Parkes, Head of Proposition Development at Signature to find out what initiates and support mechanisms Signature has implemented to assist its clients during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

Q: Covid-19 has no doubt impacted the way wealth managers and advisers interact and engage with their clients. How has Signature supported advisers through this change in working remotely and in their wellbeing?

EP: At Signature, we understand the vital importance of maintaining your mental wellbeing during these uncertain times, and always. The role of a financial adviser can be hugely rewarding in many ways, particularly when you can see just how beneficial your services have been to the lives of your clients. However, there are a number of ways in which it is also very challenging; over the past few months, increasing regulatory requirements and spiralling costs, when added to the existing demands of running a business and managing a successful work/life balance, can create a heavy burden to shoulder.  And that was before we entered the era of the coronavirus pandemic, and its impact on our professional and social lives.

There’s been a focus from the regulator on spotting signs of vulnerability in consumers – but it can often be harder to apply that same objective scrutiny to our own mental wellbeing. For this reason, through our mother company The SimplyBiz Group, we have been able to offer our clients the unique opportunity to access to our new mental health app which provides information, resources and practical guidance on how to monitor and safeguard your mental and emotional wellbeing, in addition to a directory of specialist sources if you need further support in any area.

Q: The turbulent market conditions over the past few months have resulted in additional concerns that Investment Committee’s must consider when implementing robust procedures and controls. How is Signature engaging advisers’ investment committees in these nervous times?

EP: Running an Investment Committee (IC) can be difficult at any time, let alone in the current climate. Whilst ICs are usually associated with larger advice firms, and those conducting discretionary management, the reality is the same rules and principles apply to smaller firms, especially if they are operating pre-defined investment propositions or fund panels. Firms need to be able to show how they are proactively monitoring and managing risks, and whether this is leading to suitable outcomes. As such, ICs are an important control for any firm operating a centralised investment proposition and ensuring the house view is promoted. With this in mind, we are proud to be offering our clients, and all prospective new clients, the opportunity to engage with our panel of regulatory experts and industry leading investment partners through online webinars to discuss the importance of implementing and maintaining effective control mechanisms that clearly identify, and reduce, risks to clients. At Signature, we have a wealth of experience in this area and as part of The SimplyBiz Group, we run our own Investment Committee. We pool together our own in-house expertise for this, as well as some of the best talent in the industry. In addition, we have a number of experts in this field within our regulatory centres of excellence on-hand to work with firms on governance and oversight of an Investment Committee.

Q: Has Signature implemented any cashflow tools to support clients during this period?

EP: As part of The SimplyBiz Group, we been working hard to support the firms we serve through these changing and challenging times. For this reason, we have provided our clients with a special package of support that is unrivalled anywhere else in the sector. The firms we serve will always come first, and we are proud to offer a comprehensive business assistance package designed to support our clients when they need it most. This package helps our clients to manage cashflow, work remotely, access finance, earn and learn.

In addition, we have developed a resource centre that has been specifically designed to help our clients access the Government’s financial support initiatives. We provide support and guidance on financial support initiatives relevant to our clients, as well as reliable answers to their FAQs.

We have initiated an email helpdesk for all queries and are on hand to help our clients with their submissions to the Government, and to ensure that they can take full advantage of the solutions on offer.

Q: What type(s) of learning facilities has Signature made available to its clients and who can benefit from them the most? 

We understand that successful businesses never stand still, but continually grow and evolve and an important part of the Signature service is designed to help our clients develop, both professionally and personally. We are proud to offer our clients numerous learning opportunities, and given the current climate, we have successfully moved these events to a new digital platform. This digital approach has provided us with the opportunity to engage with our clients in a safe and convenient manner whilst still providing our clients with continual opportunities to keep up to date with their CPD and market news and views. In addition, our service includes tailored learning modules to meet each client’s specific needs. These modules are also designed to be held remotely via our digital event platform.

If feel that your firm could benefit from a more specialised and tailored compliance and business support service, then please get in touch and we can arrange a virtual chat to talk through what you are looking for and how we could help. You can reach us on 01484 443 431 or email us at info@signature-support.co.uk.

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