I would like to introduce you to Anna Kavanagh, our Operations Director. Anna, a long-standing client of Henwood Court, joined us in February 2020, following a successful career as entrepreneur business owner – as the Commercial Director Anna, alongside her fellow directors, successfully ran and sold the West Midlands largest privately owned assisted conception unit.
I can say without question, Anna joining our team was my best commercial decision in 2020. She has taken our operations to a far higher level and she has only just gotten started.
Anna has written a review of our busy 2020, and provides some insight for some further improvements we have planned for you in 2021.
I know you will join me in welcoming Anna (belatedly) to the team.
Out with the old, in with the new… Anna Kavanagh, Operations Director
As we raised a glass at midnight on 31 December – I’m not sure many were sad to welcome in the New Year.
2020 was a year like no other and certainly not one any of us will ever forget.
As the team left the office on 17 March 2020, we certainly didn’t expect to still be working from home ten months later. And that on the 4 January we would again be sending home the skeleton office cover we had reducing it even further to Lockdown for a third time.
But, despite the challenges we have faced we are proud at how the team have reacted and that our feedback from you, our clients is that you don’t feel that your experience of the service you receive from Henwood Court to have been lessened by the transfer to home working and remote meetings – other than the obvious disadvantages of having to provide your own coffee and the lack of pastries.
The team didn’t skip a beat as we moved to home working – and in fact have during the year worked harder than ever. Within the first few weeks of lockdown the Planners made several hundred phone calls in addition to their usual workload – checking in with clients. Going above and beyond was the norm with documents taken to client’s home (in a COVID-19 secure manner) for signing on doorsteps, food parcels being delivered to more elderly clients living alone without the advantage of family members being geographically close and even to team members sleeping on their sofas to fund raise for the YMCA, our chosen charity for 2020.
Client and internal meetings moved seamlessly to Zoom – how many of us had heard of Zoom before March 2020? Within weeks we were using it to run a series of webinars to provide advice and support for business owning clients and professional contacts alike covering a diverse range of topics such as furlough, government business support schemes, accessing support from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, how to manage cash flow in such challenging times – cash more than ever being critical to business survival, how to ensure your team safely and effectively work from home, employee wellness, and to a wider audience the Henwood Court investment strategy…and how to become retirement ready.
Zoom also allowed us as a team to connect not only with regular whole team meetings, but also socially, maintaining that important team spirit – with quizzes, treasure hunts and even in December a virtual office Christmas party including drinks, a festive quiz and the opening of Secret Santa’s (he was busy even before the big day).
The summer saw the refurbishment of the office – the third, and final phase in the ongoing programme of works, providing not only more workstations and a breakout pod – but a fabulous interior design, its modern look and corporate colour scheme complimenting the original beams of The Cruck Barn – we look forward to getting back to working onsite and all being able to benefit from this – whenever that may be.
Throughout the summer the excellence of the service offered by Henwood Court as a firm of Chartered Financial Planners was recognised by peers and leaders in the field resulting in July the team celebrating winning the Money Marketing Awards 2020 Best Retirement Adviser, the judges were unanimous in their choice commending us on our “whole client approach considering clients emotional and financial wellbeing” and our communication strategy around the Covid-19 situation. September saw the celebration of a second win being awarded the Investment Life and Pensions Moneyfacts Awards 2020 Retirement Adviser of the Year and in October we were short-listed for the Personal Finance Society Retirement & Later Life Adviser of the Year Awards and retained our place in The New Model Advisor Top 100 – recognising prominent leaders and outstanding achievements in the UK financial community.
But as importantly we continue to receive appreciative and complimentary reviews from you, our clients on Google and post meeting client satisfaction surveys. Thank you to anybody who has taken the time to do so, these reviews help other people looking for a trusted financial planner find us – if you would like to also add a review about your service experience, please search for Henwood Court on Google and then click on the Google reviews and follow the instructions.
Despite all these accolades as a leadership team we have not sat on our laurels and as we entered lockdown, we started a thorough overhaul of the business from messaging, to service proposition and delivery, through internal structure and operational procedures, supporting technological systems and other opportunities – considering how all these can continue to be improved with the aim of making the service you receive continue to be award winning – meeting your needs and needs you may not yet know you have. Whilst remaining cost competitive in the market – despite the backdrop of significant hikes (many tens of percent) in regulatory costs across the industry.
This project, Project Kaizen continues into 2021. As we embed our new organisational structure designed to make you even more the centre of our service delivery – the restructuring of administrative tasks will see the Financial Planners able to spend more of their time client facing. Financial Planners will work with dedicated specialist administrative support in Pods – these Client Service roles – allow clients on our private client Financialsense® service to have access to a dedicated personal finance assistant. Clients choosing the investment management service Portfoliosense® will be ably managed by our Financial Planning Assistants. We are committed to the ongoing upskilling of team members with them both learning new skills internally and completing professional qualifications – all this against the wider backdrop of many organisations in the industry having staff on furlough. We are committed to growth and despite the challenging times expanded the team with three new team members in 2020 and a fourth joining us Monday: delivering net growth in the team of 17% from this time last year.
Alongside this we look to achieve efficiencies and improve further our effectiveness internally with the implementation by early summer of a new, more technically advanced back office system. This system will allow us to further enhance your service as during 2021 we look forward to launching the Henwood Court App and Personal Finance Portal providing you with an invaluable tool on which to view your financial information, allowing us to communicate with you more securely through your online hub and providing for e-signing. The Portal will transform the management of your financial affairs with, amongst other things, giving you secure online storage of important financial and legal documents and a central location to view fund and portfolio details and valuations.
So, despite the incredibly tough year we all toasted the end of, and a not too dissimilar start to the New year with the Prime Ministers announcement of the third National Lockdown just four days into this year – we look forward with optimism to 2021. Committed to continuing to deliver award winning holistic life enhancing financial planning and advice.
Wishing you and your family a safe and happy new year 2021.