It’s Been A Leap Year
Estimated Time To Read: 3 minute(s) 30 seconds
Sometimes in life you need to show enormous resilience, which at times can make day-to-day life feel slow and dreary. At other times you may be forced to take a leap forward, a situation in which we found ourselves in 2020. This forced us, and probably many other companies, to take a long, hard look at ourselves and to plot a new way forward.
Veritas has over the years endeavoured to live on the edge. We listen out for ideas that will help us to serve our clients better as financial planners, investment advisers and financial coaches. We try to partner with companies that will help improve our interactions with our clients and to increase their level of understanding of their financial affairs. This frees them up to concentrate on their lives and families. We also work to drive down the overall costs of financial services. We spend as much time as a team developing our EQ as we do our IQ.
Covid-19 presented us with opportunities to relook at how we work. We found that allowing staff more flexibility in where they work and in their working hours is a win-win. We do not have mothers sitting in rush hour traffic trying to cross the city; we have dads who have more time to pick up their kids or to play in the garden. We have people working at home and able to concentrate undisturbed to finish complex work while sitting in their garden. As managers, we have realised that you need systems and processes in the business to enable this flexibility and that we need to trust our colleagues to get on with the job. Covid-19 and technology have allowed all of this to happen.
By not being in the office, we have used less paper and saved wasteful rental costs for filing cabinets. The cloud is now our filing cabinet. Our telephone system now interacts with an app on our phone and when you call Tauhirah at reception, she might be at the office or at home when she answers but she can still transfer the call. Working habits of a lifetime have been broken and it might never have happened without a lockdown.
We spend hundreds of hours on educational conferences and classes to try to keep up with best practices locally and globally. Now we can do all of this on our laptops, and if we miss something there is a recording available to catch up at a more convenient time. Saving time spent travelling to and from these events has been a big bonus.
The difficult part is that we all miss the occasional human interaction of being with our colleagues, clients, fellow professionals and service providers. Finding the correct equilibrium is the challenge going forward, but what is definite is that the traditional way of working, in which people come to an office five days a week from 8 to 5 with a lunch break, is no more. We need to find a new way in how and when we interact with people.
Zoom was a hugely effective, though exhausting, way of communicating with our clients during the lockdown, but humans, being intensely social beings, often need, and indeed crave, direct personal interaction. With the easing of lockdown restrictions on personal contact, we are now able to conduct some meetings in person and other, more routine, interactions via Zoom. Finding this balance also saves our clients and us a considerable amount of time that could be better spent than travelling to meetings.
We are taking another big leap in the New Year. Like many other companies, we believe in giving back to our communities and industry, and we do so in a number of ways. But we also want to make a difference to individual’s lives and help to transform and diversify the financial services industry. In March 2021, we will take on our first intern through a programme run by the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa. We look forward to engaging with the person we have selected from a host of high-calibre candidates.
We have encouraged our staff to take as much leave as possible over the Christmas break to recharge themselves after a very tiring year, but staff will be available except between Christmas and New Year. We wish you all a lovely holiday. For those who celebrate Christmas, we hope this will be a special time with your families.
To finish with here is something our colleague Clare came across in her daughter’s school letter.
Excerpt from Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien):
“Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness, and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo…and it’s worth fighting for.”