COVID-19 – Our plans for managing service and continuity – Update 26th March 2020

Given the emerging situation with COVID-19 (Coronavirus), HFMC Wealth has aligned its incident response to the advice of the UK Government.

We have no concerns regarding our ability to continue to provide our service to our customers. To minimise any risk to colleagues and clients, we have taken the following precautions:

  • HFMC Wealth advisers are no longer providing face to face providing meetings are instead using video conferencing and conference call technology with clients and referrals.
  • All staff are working from home.

Government advice is continuing to evolve on a day-by-day basis, and we will provide further updates to our clients when they will be directly affected by a change in events.

Our priority remains the safety of our staff and clients, and we have systems in place to ensure continuity and to minimise any business or service disruption. These are as follows:

  • We have now ensured that all advisers, client support teams and central staff have access to laptops and have full capabilities to work remotely, allowing 100% of staff to support our clients.
  • We make extensive usage of SaaS tools, which allow access to data from any device with an Internet connection and web browser.  This means that presence in a specific location is not now required to do our jobs.
  • We make extensive usage of remote working and collaboration capabilities (Zoom, Facetime, Skype) which means that we can fully support our customers as normal from any location.
  • We have a business continuity plan in place with “buddy” advisers arranged as cover to assist you should your adviser be unwell for a period of time.
  • We have individuals in many areas of the business who are usually fully remote, proving that these departments can work remotely.

We have additionally made a small number of operational changes to ensure the smooth running of our service for our clients, particularly as the tax-year end approaches.

  • We are no longer able to receive and process physical post received in our offices in St John’s Street or our Weybridge office.  These have now both been closed and there won’t be anyone to collect post from Wednesday, 1st April.
  • If you have sent post to us recently and are unsure whether we might have received it, please get in touch and we’ll check.  If we have just sent you post then please contact us as to next steps, should we not have reached back out to you sooner.
  • The tax-year end is the 5th April, which is a Sunday this year.  With many providers having their operational staff at home, the closer to the 3rd April a payment is made for tax-year end, the less guarantee we can give of it being accepted into this tax year’s allocation by providers and the 2019/20 allocation could be irreversibly lost.  If you wish to wait until 1st/2nd April to transfer cash to fund pensions or ISAs then that does still remain your prerogative and we will of course do all we can to help.
  • Please do use email and the telephone to make contact with us (020 7400 7400 or 01932 870 000). We’ll do the same with you. All our usual phone numbers and email addresses remain operational with phone calls being redirected.
  • As previously mentioned, if there’s more than one of you and you need to speak to one or more of us, we have plenty of conference call lines to make available for the purpose. As we know many of you prefer to see the whites of the eyes of the people you’re discussing money with, we have options for video calling too.
  • For data security reasons you should not send sensitive information that you wouldn’t ordinarily want to share with a stranger via a simple email – while we have robust security systems in place, email is by its nature an insecure way of communicating personal data so password protection will help. Please ask us if you need help with this.
  • For our HFMC Asset Management discretionary clients, where assets are custodied on Pershing, we can arrange for documents to be signed securely electronically, so there really is no need for paper for new contributions or withdrawals.  We have also arranged with Transact for them to accept scanned copies of applications forms and for additional contributions to existing pensions and ISAs held with Transact, there is not normally any requirement for accompanying paperwork;
  • If a provider does still require physical paperwork/ wet signatures, such as transfer forms or for some 3rd party discretionary managers and providers, then we will contact you so that we can find a mutually agreeable solution, probably involving couriers.
  • Please don’t send us a cheque. We’ll let you have bank account details to make electronic payments to your investment providers.

We remain extremely focused on making sure that we keep doing what you expect of us and we will continue to do our utmost to react speedily and professionally to events as they emerge and to continue to put you and your financial planning first. If we have to make further changes to our service as the situation develops we will let you know.

Finally, we are aware that there are many families who are unsure as to how to formulate a plan in their current circumstances; in a number of cases their financial affairs will have changed significantly with virtually no notice. So if you have relatives, friends or colleagues who you feel might benefit from a conversation with us please let us know and will be happy to have an initial Virtual meeting at no cost or obligation to them.

In the meantime, on behalf of the whole team at HFMC Wealth, thank you for your support and patience.  I wish you and your families all good health during this difficult time.

Phil Patient

Group Chief Operating Officer