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Editor’s Column: Let the banter return

It was good to get away last week for a break to sunny Devon, beating the G7 hordes heading to the South West. 

We stayed in the lovely seaside town of Sidmouth and had a very pleasant week, our first holiday since last year (apologies if you haven’t been away yet, I know it can be irritating hearing about others’ holidays).

The hotel and staff were great, if a little rusty at times, having just been opened for a couple of weeks, in line with the Covid restrictions. I did sense, however, that many were relieved and pleased to be back to work.

We actually booked the hotel in January, taking a punt that holidays would return. It paid off but the fact we could cancel at any time before going was a welcome insurance policy.

I am glad we did not dither in booking though because dithering and procrastination are always the enemies of action and getting things done. 

The same factors are true in business and I was pleased to see this week that Transact is not dithering by announcing a flexible but decisive move back to the office in August. Like us they have an insurance policy in place, in their case the ability to switch back to full remote working if needed.

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I believe Transact’s shift back to office working (also echoed by Apple and many other firms recently) is one many financial services and Financial Planning firms will be making in the coming weeks. The choices seem to be  remote working approach forever (which is fine if it works in business terms), a full return to the office with modest remote working or a hybrid 50/50 approach.

The fact is that Coronavirus is not going away and neither is business. Firms will need to choose what works for them.

For me, I’ve always been in favour of office working with the ability for some home working to focus on specific projects where the buzz of the office might be a distraction. For most people, however, I suspect they work far more efficiently and happily alongside colleagues and workmates in an office. Pretty hard to enjoy a bit of stress-relieving banter on your own unless you enjoying talking to yourself or the cat.

As I write, to be fair the future in terms of Coronavirus looks a little uncertain. Cases are rising although the number of fatalities is hugely down on the numbers seen in the first quarter.

The vaccination programme, while hugely successful and efficient so far, is still far incomplete although great progress has been made.

Business prospects are looking up and planners have the opportunity of a growing economy next year to look forward to, according to the forecasters. We’re not out of the woods yet but the darker days should be behind us and a decisive approach now should pay dividends.

• While I’m writing can I ask you to do a small favour and take part in our annual Financial Planning Survey. It’s hugely influential and we’ll be publishing the results in the July issue of Financial Planning Today magazine. Everyone completing the survey will get a digital copy of the magazine and there are also 10 £25 M&S vouchers up for grabs in the prize draw. Taking part means you will be helping us gain a better understanding of the health of the profession in 2021 – and could be popping down to M&S to spend your voucher if you win. Thanks very much in advance for your help. Click here to take the survey.

Kevin O’Donnell is editor of Financial Planning Today and a financial journalist with 30 years experience. This topical comment on the Financial Planning news appears most weeks. Follow @FPT_Kevin 

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