Opportunities In Lockdown

Patrick Woods, Jun 25, 2020 2:24:38 PM

All around us for the past three months we have seen examples of individuals and businesses demonstrating initiative in support of others and of their clients. My personal favourites have been the local jogger dressed as Spiderman entertaining children in lockdown (and their parents!) and our favourite seafood restaurant thankfully deciding to promote a home delivery service.

What these two and others besides have in common is the demonstration and implementation of creativity. Thinking outside the box. For our superhero jogger, it was considering how to help others whilst “controlling the pounds” and for the restaurateurs, a realisation that no activity would mean zero income. In both cases, doing nothing in the face of adversity was not an option.

Meanwhile, the financial industry, whilst suffering lower asset prices, temporarily it would appear, and volatility spikes, has managed to largely maintain income levels whilst many economies have been in hibernation. Nice business model, if you can get it.

This has set me wondering what kind of innovation or initiative we might see from service suppliers in our industry had they faced the prospect of lockdown knocking fee income to zero? What might the industry advertise as its takeaway menu?

Here is a few off-the-top-of-my-head sample menu items.

- A portfolio voucher – This would entitle the holder to have a pot of money managed free of charge for twelve months that would otherwise have been spent on a family member for a special occasion had it not been for lockdown. Fee levels would then revert to normal.

- A virtual masterclass in portfolio management – As part of this event participants construct a “virtual” portfolio with a monetary prize for the person deemed to have put together the best one. This prize fund would then be invested with the manager free of all charges for twelve months, reverting afterwards to normal fee levels.

- Foreign holiday portfolio – The asset manager offers to manage a pot of money that under normal circumstances would have been spent on a foreign holiday at a 50% discount to normal asset management fees.

Perhaps you can come up with some better suggestions?

We in the financial industry have been cushioned relative to many other industries from the worst effects of economic lockdown. The danger is that it makes us complacent about our future. Ask yourself what have you done differently over the past three months that has been a benefit for customers?

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