Read the first in our series of industry-focused guest blogs. In this post, Chauntelle Wright, Money Advice Project Specialist for the Institute of Money Advisers (IMA), gives her take on supporting Money Advice Group organisers and IMA members during lockdown.
Can you even call yourself a “lockdown veteran” unless you have baked a loaf, had a DIY haircut and sat in pyjama bottoms for an entire Zoom meeting?
I’ve been getting into the swing of things for a while. I’m in a vulnerable category and Covid-19 poses a serious risk for me – so I locked down at the beginning of March. I am still working – but from home. The main change for me is how I spend my time. What was a four-hour commute is now spent on making food (my hips will attest to this,) and home schooling.
My entire work day now is online. I like the informality of online meetings. It’s all too easy to forget that the people that we regularly interact with aren’t just their job title; they are real people with kids, pets and have strangely interesting household objects and wallpapers in the background. I had a zoom meeting with an insurance broker yesterday, and couldn’t help myself…I blurted out “Is that an AGA!” She then gave me an impromptu tour of her house. It was an old cottage that she was renovating. How brilliant was that?
My pet ferret, Charlie, is a regular attendee at IMA meetings. But we now have a whole zoo of animals, and more than a few children attending. I love it. People working from home seem more comfortable and able to talk about themselves and their hobbies, likes and dislikes. I hope that we can keep this more relaxed atmosphere when we return to the “new normal.” It’s important to recognize that we are all just human beings leading our own, often complicated lives, as best we can.
I am pretty lucky. I work as part of a project that already uses a lot of technology. I help Money Advice Group organisers with planning and delivering meetings. We livestream these meetings so advisers who may have difficulties travelling can take part. Money Advice Group meetings enable advisers to improve support to clients – by sharing intelligence, skills and information. It’s vitally important that these meetings continue. The world of advice and information is changing rapidly at the moment. It’s equally important that advisers can get together to chat and share experiences, so that we don’t start to feel overwhelmed and isolated.
At the IMA, we have offered our webinar platform to Money Advice Group organisers so they can move their meetings online. We are now hosting virtual Money Advice Groups. Expert speakers are joining remotely to provide presentations and workshops for advisers. We are also offering free webinars and workshops to all Network and Information Sharing Project subscribers. All participants have been amazing in getting to grips with the new technology. Just think of all these new skills that we can add to our CV. Can you imagine future interviews? “Can you tell me what experience you have of using a collaboration platform? “Yes, would you like me to discuss my experience of Zoom, Teams, GoToWebinar, Fuze or Adobe Connect?”
IMA trainers are working hard to put our training into an online format too. We want to keep the online training as interactive as our face-to-face training is. What would be a full day of face-to-face training is now split into smaller sessions, with fewer attendees, so that the trainer can give attention to each person. The sessions are proving very popular.
Advisers reported an initial rush for advice in their workplaces but now the advice sector has gone a lot quieter. A heightened demand for advice is expected as people start to return to work after the lockdown. Why not use any calm period to join our training and webinar sessions so that we are all fully prepared for when things start to get back to normal? All details of meetings, webinars and training is available on the IMA website. https://www.i-m-a.org.uk/login/. If you want to register for the NIS project, or become and IMA member, you can register here: https://www.i-m-a.org.uk/learning-development/adviser-networking-information-sharing/
Hope to see everyone again very soon.