We perhaps didn’t choose the most stable time to start a new business, especially in a sector with an elderly client base, but in hindsight it was the best time. We opened for business right at the start of lockdown, everywhere was closing while we were just opening, but we are firm believers in taking challenges head on. In the past, we have preferred to deal with later life clients face-to-face but given the risk that such meetings would now pose to our clients due to Covid-19, we quickly adapted to our current circumstances. We launched Zoom meetings and phone calls for all of our clients, and while there was a learning curve, we’ve managed to make the best of a bad situation.
Since opening in March, we’ve already moved to a larger office, taken on 3 new advisors and helped some wonderful people live their best lives in retirement. Like everyone else, the initial disruption that the lockdown caused hit us hard, we found difficult valuations and lending being pulled to be a serious roadblock. Even worse, our clients were badly affected. Their completions were often delayed, and many found themselves isolated. In a situation like that, it’s hard to not feel powerless. But we focused on the positives and influencing what we could, trusting the sector to find its own way through the pandemic. One of the areas that we focused on was building our online presence and our social media following . We believe that having an online presence is vital for the growth of our business and to support for clients.
We also took the opportunity to look to the future by taking on an 18-year-old as a trainee mortgage & protection adviser. He began to study for his CeMap in March and obtained his qualification within 6 months. It’s been great to have a much younger presence in the business, while providing an opportunity for someone to develop their business and personal skills at a time like this. He’s also proved invaluable to our online development, while physical and face-to-face presence will always be the benchmark for the industry, online presence will only grow more important as the younger generation join the industry.
We are now looking to roll-out a nationwide training programme for equity release advisers, even if they are authorised elsewhere. We believe that helping to raise standards across the industry will only help the client on their journey to financial freedom.
Although the UK finds itself in another lockdown, we’ve weathered one storm and we’re determined to do the same again. We are well placed to make Later Life Money the leading brand for equity release, as well as all the associated areas of advice. Despite our expansion and the underlying situation that we are all facing, we remain well capitalised and totally focused on making 2021 the year where our skillsets take centre stage in the industry.
Just like last time, we aren’t just looking to survive, but thrive!