Update from our COO: Banking on the Human Spirit

Werner Alberts
October 8, 2020

It is often said that the true test of a team is not how well they attack but how well they defend. In good times, many businesses and teams may appear to be strong and doing well, but we know that even decaying pieces of driftwood will float in a rising tide. It’s only when the tide pulls back that the true skill of a team is shown, steering their ship through the shallows and keeping it safely afloat away from the sandbanks and rocky shores.

This year has certainly brought unexpected tides. Sadly, we continue to read news daily of businesses that have landed on the rocks, left with no choice but to make mass staff redundancies.  In our previous quarterly update, our CEO, Greg Ellison, provided a summary of the actions that we have taken in line with our three priorities: protect our people, protect our customers and protect our cash. We are pleased to report that the early action taken by the group at the beginning of the crisis has continued to yield positive results during the third quarter.  

In a recent staff survey, the feedback received was overwhelmingly positive. The response confirmed that staff continued to feel valued and cared for during the lockdown period. The engagement program that was implemented during this time helped to keep staff connected and minimised mental health risks. We had particularly good feedback regarding our homeworking solution. Capital’s set-up placed employees in a stronger position to work more productively and securely than many of their friends and family employed elsewhere.

Without doubt, Capital smashed the way they dealt with lockdown. I don’t know any family member or friend who had the consideration and care for their physical/mental health or anyone who had their entire desktop workstation at home. A laptop on the ironing board in the garage away from the kids is no good for anyone! That’s a true scenario. So, thank you Capital - I loved every minute of working from home.”

We are also very pleased with the positive feedback we received from many customers for the continued level of service that was experienced. We need to thank all of our customers for working collaboratively with our staff during this time and for showing understanding when service levels might have been slightly lower than normal. Naturally, the fall in the markets has had a negative impact on investment returns, and we understand the difficulty and concerns that this causes for clients. Our Investment Management and Relationship Management teams have had extensive engagement with our clients to explain the reasons for market performance, something we know clients appreciated from the feedback we have received. The improved investment performance seen during the last quarter is promising, and the new business levels we are now experiencing serve as a testament to the confidence and trust that our clients place in us.

The Group is fortunate to have a strong balance sheet, with the only debt being long-term mortgage finance in our property subsidiaries. Together with the cost saving measures that were implemented early on, our favourable financial position has enabled the Group to avoid any staff redundancies and to continue to fund the development of our new banking business.

When we reflect on the past nine months, the one factor that stands out above all else is the incredible value of our human spirit. Globally, everyone has faced tremendous challenges. On top of these common challenges, our business experienced operational obstacles at unexpected times and from unexpected areas. At first glance, these challenges appeared insurmountable; however, for every challenge we were confronted with, a new team was formed, and by combining great minds from various areas of the business, together we always managed to work out a solution.

In each case, the overarching drive was not to accept failure as an option and not to give up until the problem was solved. We witnessed as teams went from giving their best to giving their all. On a number of occasions, solutions were found and implemented in the eleventh hour. We were also very fortunate to work with business partners and service providers that have shown equal resolve in overcoming challenges.

While we do not yet know what the seas and tides are going to look like during the next quarter and in 2021, we do know that we have excellent teams in both the Isle of Man and in South Africa who, with unrivalled determination and exceptional human spirit, will give their all to weather any storm that might pass.