Happenstance should never be ignored, even if it occurs in the midst of a dire situation.
The current economic and societal situation is dire, but the learnings available to the financial advice community from the lessons thrust upon it — as a result of the urgent need to transform and adapt workplaces — must be heeded now to successfully transform in the new, post-COVID-19 normal.
Three separate items in the news coalesce this reality, and advisers will do well to heed the insights they yield.
[More: 2020 Best Places to Work for Financial Advisers]
First, in this issue, 75 advisory firms of various sizes are recognized as “Best Places to Work” for having provided an exceptional work environment.
The winners were selected from a two-part survey completed by employers and employees. The employers report the firm’s workplace policies, practices and demographics. The employees complete a survey designed to measure the employee experience. Importantly, the score based on the employee experience carries three-quarters of the weight, while the employer policies, practices and demographics account for one-quarter. Employee experience being the key component reflects the essential value that empowered employees can provide to companies and to their clients.
Firms can’t simply publish policies. Successful organizations put those policies into practice. Although this survey was conducted before COVID-19 changed the workplace, the factors that drove the winners hold water.
Second, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman weighed in on the future of the workplace. Currently, 90% of the wirehouse’s 80,000 employees are working from home, and while Gorman is a big believer in office culture and how it helps build teams and creativity, he says that it is likely that the company’s 15,000 financial advisers and support staff will spend more time working remotely from their home offices and living rooms.
“Now, do I think that everybody’s going to be working from home? No,” Gorman said. “But could I see a future where, part of every week, certainly part of every month for a lot of our employees to be at home? Absolutely.”
The wealth management giant has begun preparing for the future.
Third, Josh Brown’s comments in a recent video underscore how firms needto enable employee acumen with remote work to build successful advice businesses in the future.
[More: Morgan Stanley’s Gorman sees more remote work in future]
“We were born as a remote firm. We live on video conference, and we use Slack like other people chew gum,” Brown said. Providing his company that support and technology to operate from anywhere enables comfort for them and for their clients to communicate in any form.
The common thread? A great deal of advisers’ work can be done remotely. Therefore, prepare a workplace that supports employees and permits them to succeed under any circumstance. COVID-19’s inexorable impact will be a greater mix of at-home and in-office work at firms ranging from 15 employees to 15,000, and the firms that aspire to win in the new normal will have to provide employees with the tools to succeed in a variety of environments.