The Pandemic & Me: Brewin Dolphin
Updated: Feb 3
This edition of our The Pandemic & Me series we catch up with Tom Solly, Investment Manager at Brewin Dolphin, one of the UK's leading investment management and financial planning firms. It is a FTSE 250 company and has offices throughout the UK, Channel Islands and Ireland.
Tom, who is based in their Newcastle office, helps clients shape their financial journey. This can take many forms, it could be something like saving for retirement, paying for their children's education or investing an inheritance.
Footprints Consulting: Have you had to adapt to Covid-19? What changes have you made?
Tom Solly: Absolutely. The most obvious change is working from home whilst ensuring that our clients are still receiving the best possible service. Pre-Covid, most client interactions were done face-to-face but that’s completely changed and it’s nearly all virtual at the moment.
FC: Have you had any challenges communicating effectively with colleagues or clients while working remotely?
TS: I’m really pleased to be able to say no to this. I’m very lucky that Brewin Dolphin had invested in some great technology in the past couple of years, so we could hit the ground running without any disruption to our service. I still prefer a face-to-face meeting and feel I communicate better that way but given the restrictions, it’s going pleasingly well.
FC: Do you think it has changed the way you do business?
TS: Fundamentally no. Everything we do is focused on giving our clients the best experience to achieve their objectives and that still remains.
FC: Have Brewin Dolphin needed to help clients through the pandemic or has it mostly been business as usual?
TS: I’m always mindful of the fact that we manage peoples’ finances and many of our clients rely on us to meet their financial goals. Keeping clients informed and up to speed with the ever-changing world is very important to all of us at Brewin Dolphin. However, we always look at the long-term investing horizon too and don’t just focus on short-term volatility.
FC: What changes have you seen clients making since the pandemic?
TS: Some used the depressed markets to invest more cash, others reconsidered their general outlook and for some it’s just a case of carrying on as we were before. No one client is the same.
FC: How are you coping with the cross-over of business and personal life?
TS: I think I’m doing pretty well. I have a 17-month-old son at home, so it’s been great to see more of him. But there are times when he’s given his mother a tough day that I feel guilty trying to carve out a little bit of time for myself, even if it’s just getting some fresh air after work.
FC: What have you surprisingly missed about “the old ways”?
TS: It’s not surprising at all, but I really miss seeing my clients face-to-face.
FC: Is there anything you wouldn’t go back to?
TS: The speed at which we have adapted and innovated has been hugely impressive and I am sure we’re going to keep that impetus going, as it’s only a good thing. We won’t rest on our laurels and I wouldn’t want us to.
FC: What advice can you give others for financial planning right now as we start to rebuild the economy?
TS: Consider your priorities, evaluate your spending, save tax-efficiently and protect what you have. But most of all, work with an expert to make a plan.
FC: Have you gone back to the office yet? If not, when do you think you might and how are you feeling about that return?
TS: No, and I have no plans to return just yet. Our office recently re-opened but given the important distancing measures in place, the capacity has dropped quite considerably, so we have prioritised the return of colleagues who have struggled to work from home for one reason or another, which I think is absolutely the right thing to do.
FC: What do you think the future of working will look like? If changed at all.
TS: I think the fundamentals will remain the same – do your job to the best of your ability – but how, where and when you do it will likely change.
FC: Has the pandemic brought any unexpected opportunities for Brewin Dolphin?
TS: It has allowed us to focus on making sure our clients are getting the best advice and service possible. A lot of that is now through digital channels and we’ve rolled out some really impressive stuff on that front, and the pipeline shows no signs of letting up, which is great.
FC: What’s next for Brewin Dolphin?
TS: One of the things we’re working really hard on is our ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investment proposition and I’m really privileged to be on Brewin Dolphin’s ESG forum. So many people want to see their investments act as a force for good in the world and I’m thrilled to be helping build on our offering, so it’s not just something we do as an added extra but is integrated into everything we do.
Thanks Tom! Great to hear how well Brewin Dolphin are adapting to the current situation and looking after their staff and clients so well. Can't wait to see your progress on the ESG investment proposition and weaving investments for good into your everyday offering.
And we have plenty more interviews to come covering sectors like tech and capital investment. Keep an eye out for the next guest blog in the series.
The value of investments can fall and you may get back less than you invested
The opinions expressed in this document are not necessarily the views held throughout Brewin Dolphin Ltd.
This information is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice.
Brewin Dolphin is authorised and regulated by the FCA (Financial Services Register reference number 124444)
How are you adapting to the "new normal"? What are your tips for implementing remote working and maintaining excellent customer service? Let us know in the comments.