Winter is my favourite time of the year.
It may not seem an obvious choice, but the shift in balance of short days and long nights, especially following the festive season, always lifts my mood.
And, as the new year gets underway and we review the last 12 months and start analysing what the next 12 could have in store, it certainly feels as if, from an investment perspective, the markets have struggled with the longer nights, with winter taking hold.
We are in difficult times and this is when client engagement is key – regular communication can offer reassurance, even though investment returns may not be at levels seen in recent years.
The properly trusted adviser is one who doesn’t go into hiding when things are tough. Clients appreciate high levels of engagement, particularly when every time they turn on a news channel all they see is political turmoil and market volatility.
Who knows what will happen with Brexit, trade wars, the Italian budget and so on? Instead, what we can give is reassurance our investment teams are not sitting behind the couch hoping it all goes away – they are trying to ensure they do the right thing in line with clients’ investment objectives, leveraging opportunities as they emerge, and practicing the mantra of diversification across the investment spectrum.
The whole area of communication with clients is central to a programme I have recently become more involved in our pre-consultancy training.
This is the first time I have led the programme and I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved with the next generation of consultants. I even made a late alteration to how I have structured the classroom time we are having, allowing the team to lead these more and not working to a rigid agenda. This has created more time to practice the key communication skills we need to build relationships with clients – roleplays and presentation exercises are being met with an unnerving enthusiasm for this old timer, who has grown to loathe these over the years.
A nod to my youngest daughter Grace here, as she gave me that piece of advice to hand over control and introduce flexibility in the learning. As communication is my central theme with this blog, I am grateful a 15-year-old still talks to me.
Enjoy the shorter nights and longer days when they come – it will be 21 June before we know it!
George Houston is technical director at Mattioli Woods