Home office - Dealing with the COVID-19 Crisis
With social distancing changing how work is done, a whole host of business continuity issues are affecting family offices. During a recent Member Exchange dialogue, members told us their family office culture, risk appetites, and technology were rapidly changing as a result.
Human Capital Challenges
While work from home options are increasingly common with many employers, family offices —especially smaller ones —don't have as much experience with it and found it to be a big culture shift. Members cited holding regular check-ins using video conferencing tools and over-communicating helped with the transition. And interestingly, one member said the constant communication is helping staff feel more connected than ever.
Hiring and onboarding new staff has surfaced as a more-challenging issue. While some offices paused recruitment and hiring efforts indefinitely, those still looking for candidates have found the process difficult at times. Many recruiters have been furloughed due to the crisis, narrowing the talent pool for some members. Members who have hired talent have found onboarding difficult given the current physical restrictions in place across much of the world. That said, now is the chance for many to revisit these onboarding policies and procedures to make them more resilient to disruptions.
Not surprisingly, attitudes toward risk are getting revisited and rexamined. One member mentioned their family has witnessed a paradigm shift within the generations. The traditional risk taker who set the tone for the younger generation is now taking a slow and methodical investment approach while the others look to be more aggressive.
Another member shared that while some insurance policies had offered pandemic-related coverage, not many families opted to buy it. And now, people are realizing that pandemic-related losses are not covered under their current policies. With greater awareness around the disruptiveness of pandemics, that likely will change going forward.
Security risks in areas with increasing civil unrest also surfaced as an area of concern, with members considering an increase in family personal security.
Most members agreed that transitioning to a remote work environment has highlighted the need for new technology across the office. Beyond the overwhelming need for better telecommunications and software capabilities, some members cited payments improvement (i.e., ACH) and going paperless where possible as top priorities.
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