‘I couldn’t even reach for the tissues’: Adviser discusses her Covid-19 experience

    Hannah Godfrey reports...

    Helm Godfrey director, shareholder and adviser Susie Foottit came down with the coronavirus 10 days ago. But thanks to a strong immune system, she says, she is on the mend and feeling much better.

    What started as a dry cough – as is typical with the coronavirus – her illness soon became an energy-sapping flu that left the financial adviser bed-bound and barely able to remember the first four days living with the virus.

    “I couldn’t even reach a box of tissues on the side of my bed,” she says, adding paracetamol and Sudafed helped control her headache and temperature – two other symptoms typically associated with the virus. Unfortunately, Foottit passed the virus onto her husband, who had a similar experience.

    “My symptoms were so typical of what they were, there was no question, with the temperate, the dry cough and the headache… I really wouldn’t want to go to hospital at the moment,” she explains.
    Foottit and her husband are both on the mend. Susie still has a cough and suffers with bouts of exhaustion, but believes she’ll be “fine by the weekend”.
    There are 6,650 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, and there have been 335 deaths. The worst affected area is London, where Foottit works, where there has been 2,433 confirmed cases.

    Foottit is a senior member of the team at Helm Godfrey, a firm that houses both advisers and those specialising in employee benefits.

    Helm Godfrey were well prepared for the virus affecting the UK, says Foottit. Employees at the firm had a strategy meeting around a month ago, and because the firm’s CEO Graham Cross commutes from France, he had seen first-hand the country slowing down as a result of the pandemic. As a result, the team ended up talking about various measures that could be put in place in the event the coronavirus spread more widely in the UK.

    Initially, the firm’s plan of action was to take the temperature of anyone with a dry cough and, if their temperature was high, send them home in a taxi. The firm also carried out a big test run of a lockdown scenario, checking various computer systems and telephones could be accessed from home.

    Now, like all firms made up of individuals classed as non-essential workers should be, all Helm Godfrey employees are working from home. Additionally, the firm is sending out weekly coronavirus updates to its clients to let them know what the firm is doing.

    Clients of Foottit were unaffected by her bout of illness because she has a team of five that looks after her clients alongside her. She says most advisers at the firm have a paraplanner and administrator assigned to them so the advisers can spend time giving the “macro advice”.

    “[My team] have done such a great job,” she adds. “They’ve been lovely and my clients have been wonderful. I’m getting lots of nice messages on Facebook, it’s been really good.”

    Despite being one of the thousands of UK individuals to be affected directly by the virus so far, Foottit has remained in high spirits: “It’s not all bad. I’m sort of learning to re-base, and that the great excitement of my day what we’re going to have for dinner in the evening as opposed to going out for dinner and seeing people.

    “Even having nothing in my diary is quite nice, actually. I’m watching boxsets like crazy. Obviously I wouldn’t want it to be like this forever, but I’ve been really impressed with the way the government has handled things. I know a lot of people have said ‘lock everyone down early’, but that’s not our nature in Britain.

    “We’re a liberal country. I don’t think it would work with everyone being pushed, at least people have bought into all of the steps along the way, whereas I think if it had been enforced form the beginning, I don’t think people would have.”