Meet the Wealthify faces

With the majority of our team now working from home, we wanted to let you know how we’ve been adjusting both professionally and personally.
Meet the Wealthify faces
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The pandemic we’re currently facing has forced us to change our daily habits, whether it’s the way we work or spend our free time. At Wealthify, we’ve quickly adopted remote working practices to keep business running as usual. Needless to say, our professional and personal routines have changed, and we thought we’d share our lockdown experience with you.

 

 

Richard Theo, CEO

How has WFH impacted your role?
Leading a business from home has been quite challenging. Although we still hold meetings, a lot of the valuable communications are missing without the informal interactions between people at the desk and water cooler. Working from home has a profoundly different effect on people. Those with families, nice homes, gardens and/or local parks or countryside seem to almost prefer the situation – particularly where they’re getting more time with their children. However, for those who are on their own, it’s a whole different story with all sorts of challenges, such as loneliness, depression and anxiety.

We have organised daily team stand-ups to keep people connected, engaged and aware of what’s going on. We’ve also organised weekly company briefings via Zoom, so that people can still get a sense of the momentum that the company has got and feel connected to each other. In addition, colleagues have organised quizzes and health and wellbeing sessions via Skype and Zoom. I have encouraged people to make random 1-2-1 calls and video chats with each other to try and replace the informal interactions and to offer social interaction to those that may not have it.

On the positive side, although leading from home has created a new workload and can be tough when you have days with back-to-back conference calls, in some ways it has allowed me a bit of head space to think more about the bigger picture.

 

How are you dealing with lockdown?
I bought myself some weights and I’m trying to see lockdown as a positive opportunity to do some things that I could never do before. I have cycled almost every day for an hour or two which has been great, as sadly I can’t run as much as I used to due to knee problems. The cycling has allowed me to see the outside world and discover new local places that I never knew existed. And it’s great to see other humans – even if from a distance. I have followed the advice to keep a routine each day. However, it’s really easy to treat weekends the same as workdays and so I would advise people to be strict about finding allowable leisure activities at the weekend and not just carrying on their work.

 

David Semmens, Head of Investment Strategy

How has WFH impacted your role?
I have been working from home once a week for over a year now, so all the hardware as well as the at home routine were already in place for me. When the lockdown happened, the firm switched pretty seamlessly to remote working almost overnight, which was down to the hard work of the teams. From a business point of view, everyone has been incredibly pro-active and it’s been a largely positive experience at a difficult time for all concerned. The company has adapted incredibly well - perhaps this is part of working for a finTECH firm!

The main difference for the investment team is that we start off each day with a team discussion, which is now virtual rather than face-to-face. But this doesn’t hold us back! For instance, we’ve just completed our first virtual hire, which is a real person, but that’s an exciting milestone showing how quickly adaption is possible. Due to the current situation in the markets, we’ve also made more frequent changes to our portfolios, which has necessitated even greater discussion amongst our investment committee.

My responsibilities have been much the same, although it’s quieter in my home office and all the discussions are done virtually. I spend most of my time reading, researching and updating our models. I’ve also been expanding some of the indicators that we use to analyse the possible economic impact of C-19. My priorities are the same:

  • Focus on news and data not noise

Stripping out the noise is important at the best of times, but now even more so. You can’t turn on the news or look at the financial pages without reading about C-19. Focusing on long term investing is still key here. We are long-run investors not speculators. It’s important to look at the underlying data, not just the headlines, and think how this challenges our assumptions.

  • Discipline

As mentioned, markets have been moving far and incredibly fast. This has meant that interesting opportunities have presented themselves more often than might otherwise be the case. Fortunately, we have an excellent investment process that helps strip out much of the emotional side of investing. It’s natural to worry at a time like this, but at the same time, I think it is important as an investment team to retain our discipline and focus on strengths.

  • Collaboration (even more than ever)

As asset managers, we are fortunate to decide where people’s hard-earned money is invested. While we have excellent processes which can do much of the information gathering, this needs to be read and assessed by our team both individually and as a group. Two people may read the same data very differently based on their experience or training. So, a culture of constructive challenge ensures that the sum of the whole is greater than the parts. Just because this is done via Zoom or Teams, doesn’t make it any less rigorous.

While some people might not like WFH, I’m really fortunate to have access to lots of great resources and interesting people to discuss ideas with, and a lot of this is done remotely, so it doesn’t really matter where I am. A good office set up doesn’t hurt, either! Our days have been slightly longer but with no commute and the same great collegiality, I feel pretty lucky. I start the day taking my dog, Byron, for a walk and listen to a podcast; right now I’m listening to Capital Allocators Podcast which currently focuses on those investors with the longest time horizon-namely endowments. When I’m back in the office, I’ll look at what has happened overnight; mostly market moves, data and policy changes. The two key questions I’m looking to answer are: does any of this challenge our assumptions and should we be changing our portfolio?

We’re a small team and one of the best things is that we are very nimble. But more importantly, everyone has an opinion so you need to be ready to be challenged and challenge. I’ll spend much of the day reading research across a broad spectrum, including from the sell-side, other buy-side institutions or academic research papers. When I have time, I’ll take part in or listen to conference/video calls with other investment managers discussing the risks and opportunities ahead and our respective views. I’ll use this research to revise and test our models; potentially developing new indicators if there’s a need. I’ll also be working on blogs to update our consumers on any interesting investment related topics. Then I’ll typically take Byron for another walk with my wife when the workday is done. We usually bookend this by making and enjoying dinner (with a glass of wine!) and probably Netflix or a Zoom/FaceTime call. If I don’t have totally square-eyes, I will also read for pleasure. I’m a big fan of crime novels.

 

How are you dealing with lockdown?
I’ve been going for walks, with and without Byron. Chatting with my wife about non-work related and non-covid 19 topics helps to keep things in perspective. I’ve been lucky that several of my favourite shows (Bosch, Ozark and Money Heist) have released new seasons since the lockdown began.

A good way to cope with the current situation is to get in touch with people. Reach out to older relatives and call folks whose schedules might have precluded meeting up lots previously. Group family chats are fun too! People will generally appreciate hearing from you and it keeps a sense of normality- and if they are busy they will call back. Trying new things can also help during lockdown. I’ve been learning Scottish Gaelic - Tha mi ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig. I bought some herb plants to have some useful greenery in our apartment. My wife and I have been eating in the dining room rather than the kitchen. We’ve also been trying lots of new recipes!

 

Sarah Sandercott, Head of Customer Care

How has WFH impacted your role?
Working from home hasn’t made too much of a difference in terms of the work I can complete, but I’ve had to ensure that my team are keeping safe and well, and that the customers are still responded to in a timely manner regardless of what channel they contact us on, be it Livechat, Phonecall or Secure Messages. I am still able to communicate with my team and conduct my role without the physical contact, but it does require a bit more planning and thought.

As lockdown started, we managed to “lift and drop” the entire Customer Care operation within a few days thanks to the agility of Wealthify. Our first hurdle was to make sure everything worked from a technical perspective and then the true test was going live and having a team of Customer Care specialists ready to deal with the customers. The next challenge was dealing with the busy tax year end period where people try to make the most of their ISA allowance. However, the team all pulled together, and we got through the extra volumes at a decent pace.

My day is very similar to how it was before, just without a 7am gym visit! I start at 8am, check on queries from the previous night then attend various meetings and calls, and help the team with any queries or escalations they may have across all of our products. Although we are all remote, as a business we haven’t paused any projects or improvements and we continue to work on these to keep progressing the business and to enhance our offering. I monitor the channels and check on the team daily and throughout the day, and I’m not adverse to taking a few customer calls and chats myself as it can be great to have that insight and it’s nice to have human contact and direct feedback.

 

How are you dealing with lockdown?
I am doing ok, as I’m quite conscientious so always motivated to get the work done.  It just feels like we are in a weird bubble, so I ensure that I keep in contact with my fellow colleagues as that helps the day along!

I have recently taken up running again and that helps. Also, I have a great fiancé who keeps me in check and encourages me to take breaks rather than stare at screens all day. I also find that meditation can help clear a busy mind and I am very lucky to have a garden that backs onto a national country park so I can hear the birds tweeting every morning. In this situation, it’s important to take some time for yourself. As mentioned earlier, meditation can help, as well as taking regular breaks or going for a walk.

Reaching out to colleagues on a non-work basis can help you feel less isolated. I also find that having an understanding that some people are in worse situations helps put things in perspective when things can get overwhelming. If all else fails, then a glass of wine in the garden puts everything right again!

 

Kelly Curtis, Customer Communications Manager

How has WFH impacted your role?
Working from home can certainly be a challenge for me now that my co-workers are my husband and two boys aged 6 and 4, who like nothing more than running around the house naked, dropping food as they go like Hansel and Gretel!  

On a typical day, I get rudely awoken by either a child or a puppy – its 50/50 on which one I’ll get. I get ‘ready’ for work and then head downstairs to make the kid’s breakfast and sort any mess that has magically appeared! Whilst the boys eat, my new work life then begins. I join our daily team video call and discuss what plans I have for the day ahead.

During this uncertain time, we understand that our customers are relying on us more than ever to keep them updated with timely, simple and relevant communication. Myself and our wider marketing team are working closely on a daily basis to ensure we do our best to keep customers fully informed of what’s going on in the markets, and with their plans. We’re now fully in the swing of doing this remotely (even in between being a snack giver and child referee!), and it’s been amazing to see positive feedback from customers who feel reassured by the emails we are sending them. It makes the juggle all worth it!

 

How are you dealing with lockdown?
Being on lockdown is new and unusual for everyone, but you have to make it work for you and your family. I never forget how incredibly lucky I am to live in a house that has a large garden space. The kids would go bonkers without it and so would I! We are also lucky to have gym equipment, and we’re able to use that daily to destress. I’ve even started a beginner’s yoga class online.

What I have enjoyed, and I’d like to keep on doing after lockdown, is our daily walks as a family. We love getting outside, paddling in the nearby streams and forest, and generally letting the kids play. Play is a great therapy and as long as the kids are happy, then for me that’s the most important thing!

 

Liam Notley, Compliance Officer

How has WFH impacted your role?
At first, working from home proved to be slightly difficult for me, as systems/technology issues, which you would not normally face in the office, took time to fix. With everyone in my household working from home, Wi-Fi quickly became an issue with four of us working under one roof – we’re now reliant on a number of Wi-Fi boosters to keep us all connected!

Given the time of the year, my priorities mainly fall around reporting, with many deadlines coming up in the next few months. WFH could have made this situation a lot more difficult as I normally need the office set up for this type of work. Luckily Wealthify allowed me to take some of my office equipment home, so I’m now able to complete my tasks in the same way I would if we were still in the office.

My typical day starts with my standard work routine in order to bring some normality back to this whole situation. I get ready as I would for work, make myself a coffee and usually say hello to a few of my co-workers (over work messaging systems). I check my emails and write out all my daily tasks, so I can structure my mornings and afternoons. I then try to have lunch at around the same time each day as I feel routine is key in times like this. In the afternoon, I try and keep to my structure and of course have another coffee! Then at the end of the day I will have a catch up with my colleagues and if it’s Friday, I’ll take part in the weekly Wealthify quiz.

 

How are you dealing with lockdown?
To stay sane, I try and go for a walk everyday taking new routes, so it doesn’t get repetitive. I also play video games with my friends to try and stay in contact. We also tend to have a group call every Friday to properly catch up. My tips to cope with the current situation would be to try and keep in contact with your friends, check up on people to make sure they are okay – and remember that this won’t last forever, and don’t take normal life for granted after this is over.

 

Simon Holland, CPO

How has WFH impacted your role?
My wife and I have got separate “offices” whilst we both work from home – we even hot desk so we get to swap for the sunny side of the house and then try to take a lunch break together. We find it helps keep a sense of normalcy during these challenging times. Since Wealthify is a digital business, it was easy to settle in and adapt to the new ‘normal’ of working from home. Thanks to the agility of the business, my role hasn’t really been impacted and I’m able to work on a number of projects that will help enhance Wealthify’s offering. In comparison, working from home hasn’t been very easy for my wife. She manages a child protection team and when families need them most, remote support is never as good as real-life interaction.

 

How are you dealing lockdown?
I normally commute to the office so it’s great having an extra 2 hours a day not spent travelling - but I think starting the day by taking a walk round the block really helps, and I’m taking advantage of the extra time I have to go for more runs – exercise is hugely beneficial mentally and physically so make the most of the time out you’re allowed, whilst keeping a safe distance of course.

I have also (when we can get flour) perfected my bread making for the first time since I was a kid with my mum - she’s very proud and loves the pictures of my creations I’ve been sending her. Also, I’m making sure I check in with friends, especially any doctors and care workers – just for a chat over video to ensure everyone’s is doing fine. If you know anyone who may feel a bit lonely, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with them, it really can make a difference in someone’s day.

 

Cécile Boyer, Content Marketing Executive

How has WFH impacted your role?
The first two weeks of working from home were intense. With financial markets rapidly falling, we had to be very reactive in the content we were producing. We focused our efforts on explaining the unprecedented situation and its impact on markets. And despite our new working conditions, we produced a large number of pieces that helped reassure our customers. Now that things are settling a bit, we can be a bit more pro-active and plan for the next pieces of content that will inform and educate our audience.

Working from home is a bit new for me and I’m still trying to find the right routine. The hardest thing, I think, is to keep work separate from home. I’ve created a dedicated workspace in my living room, so I don’t mix both worlds. I’m not going to lie, I prefer to work in the office – you get to see your colleagues and you don’t have your neighbours disturbing you with loud music or TV. But I can’t complain too much, I’m lucky enough to still be able to work from home, and I know it’s not the case for everybody, so I’m just very grateful at the moment.

 

How are you dealing with lockdown?
Lockdown is definitely having an impact on my anxiety as my mind has more free time to come up with toxic thoughts. So, to cope with this, I’m trying to keep myself as busy as I can. Obviously, work is helping a lot, and I have a number of activities on the side that help me remain sane in these uncertain times. I also make sure to always have makeup on – this may sound silly but taking time to pamper myself puts me in a better mood.

Also, I’ve tried to disconnect and reduce the time I spend on social media - sometimes it’s good to take a break. Finally, I remember to be kind to myself, instead of beating myself up for having a bad day, I’ve learnt to accept it. We’re going through a pandemic, we don’t necessarily need to make the most of it, and it’s ok not to do anything or to feel poorly. All you need to do really is take care of yourself and remember that it’s temporary – better days will come.

 

Please remember the value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you could get back less than invested.

 

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