Trust and Transparency

26.06.2020

If you are anything like me, I now find it impossible to turn on the television or pick up a newspaper without reading or hearing about another breach of trust. Sports teams, charities, businesses, politicians are all equally guilty, routinely putting their own interests ahead of the people they serve.

Coronavirus, however, has added another dimension to this. People now wake up every day to read about hundreds of thousands of redundancies or dozens of high-profile businesses struggling to keep the lights on. Trust and transparency has become about more than just behaviour. It is about survival.

How to treat your customers in a crisis

I would like to quote a couple of friends (including myself) and their experiences with British Airways — a case study in what not to do.

Like myself, they were booked on a flight this summer which has obviously now been cancelled. Legally, we know we are allowed a full refund. British Airways, however, is offering a voucher which is valid for 2 years. If you want the cash refund you must navigate something akin to the Crystal Maze. Unsurprisingly, if you take the voucher, the system works perfectly. If you want the cash refund, the problems begin.

In 15 minutes of searching you cannot find the information on their website, nor can you find an email address to send your query to. The chat function is run by a machine, not a person, and none of the choices you are offered allow you ask the question you want to.

All of this from a company whose motto is ‘To fly, to serve’ and where its values include respect, responsibility, and fair play.

The thing I think they’ve misjudged is that most of us would genuinely be OK if they were open and transparent and explained that coronavirus is having such an impact on their business that the only way to ensure survival is to issue vouchers rather than refunds.

But they are not. They are avoiding transparency with their customers at a time where it would go a long way. It is something I (and presumably millions of other customers) will never forget.

The lesson in all of this is simple — great companies are simply about how they make their customers feel. And this is particularly true in times of crisis. Companies would do well to recognise that the world is so connected and so transparent that everyone can now see not only what you do but also how you do it. Total transparency is the only way forward.

It is with this in mind that I thought I would update you on how we are faring in light of coronavirus.

  • As you know we feel a great deal of responsibility to our team and thus we have not furloughed or made any of our employees redundant. This, in hindsight, was absolutely the right decision. The reaction from everyone across the business has been very encouraging and will, I believe, bind us even more tightly together in the future.
  • Our balance sheet remains strong and we continue to make long term decisions which we believe are in the best interests of all our stakeholders
  • We have successfully rolled out our new Personal Finance Portal to improve the security of all our communications which have your personal data included.
  • We are developing and testing a new platform to hold your assets which we believe will improve your experience when looking and reviewing your portfolios.
  • We plan to roll out a range of responsible model portfolios to compliment our existing portfolios with the aim to preserve and grow our client’s capital in a sustainable manner over time.

While we are still a long way from business as usual, the last few weeks have seen some sense of normality return. Stay safe and healthy.

David Buchan
Finance Director

David Buchan