“Times like these” and moving forward with the new ‘norm’

It has been sung – “It’s times like these (we learn to live again)”…..

Times of isolation lead to introspection, reflection and general pondering. In my case, how will we build the relationships that are the bedrock of my chosen profession. To be able to have those difficult discussions with our clients, or their trusted family lawyer that has been with them for 20 years, when we cannot meet them face to face – in the immediate future at least.

This is a relationship business, a people business and when this all started I did wonder if it would be harder to cultivate new relationships via a video link! Of course, there are positives to the way we are finding ourselves having to work; less time spent travelling means more time for client focus and time with one’s family, thereby achieving balance, not to mention the positive environmental impact. A first for me this week was a video call with a lawyer in Moscow. Whilst this is how we have commenced dialogue, I am finding on all video calls there is a greater sense of community, the shared experience and compassion.

Being a boutique firm, having invested in technology and having a flexible approach to working, we made the transition to remote working with virtually no disruption to how we operate; through-out we continue to on-board new, some quite complex, clients and develop new professional working relationships. Video calls with our clients, and our international network of advisers, are now very much the order of the day. Matters in the office would be discussed face-to-face across a desk or in a meeting room, now we have a video group “huddle” first thing every morning or quick one-to-one video calls through-out the day.

However, as I have said, this is a relationship driven business and it may take a little longer to achieve the type of chemistry a settlor or beneficiary would want with their trustee over the ether. Perhaps once that relationship is well established that will be possible, but you will never beat face-to-face meetings to discuss such matters as family, finance and future! Non-verbal social cues, a look or the way someone moves, when a sensitive or difficult subject is discussed that you would not as easily pick-up on a telephone call let alone on a video conference.

Will we return to the “old ways” at the end of this unprecedented period in time…. how will we live (our lives) again and what will the new normal look like? Recently, a leading Destination Marketing Expert said to me that he thinks it will be a decade before holiday travel returns to where it was pre-covid 19! I certainly think it will be a lot sooner than 10 years before I travel regularly, perhaps 10 months, to meet clients and the fantastic network of trusted advisers I have built up over nearly 3 decades in industry. Less shaking of hands possibly and elaborate face masks becoming the flourish of colour to match ones pocket square or neck scarf.

Of one thing I am certain, it will be different, but we will learn to live again………..

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