Welcome to our interview with Kate Monserrate and Carl Woodward, co-founders and directors of Simplify Consulting who will be sharing their reflections on the past year and providing some valuable insights on what we can expect in 2023.
Given the changes around the world, following the recovery period after COVID and the economic and political uncertainties – what do you feel have been the biggest impacts on the wealth industry through the work Simplify have completed.
Carl: The industry has had to adjust to working in different ways, with remote working becoming the new normal in areas where it previously wouldn’t have even been considered feasible. Businesses have reacted fantastically well to enabling their teams to work and collaborate across geographies and this has meant there has been a real focus on optimising operational processes, ensuring consistency, cross skilling teams (to help where there has been illness or single person dependencies).
We’ve worked closely with clients to remove some of those inefficiencies and reduce their costs. In some cases these are change programmes and in others we map and rationalise processes. This has obvious benefits, especially in today’s cost-constrained environment, and it can also help clients to become more resilient to external forces that have historically impacted service.
As we go into 2023, it’s reasonable to expect wealth management companies to keep one eye on costs and the other on their levels of resilience. It could be a difficult year but for many companies, operational efficiencies will make all the difference.
What themes have you seen the wealth industry grapple with to deal with market volatility and the economic squeeze?
Kate: There is a real focus on reviewing costs. A number of our engagements are focussing on optimising operational processes in order to improve efficiency, create capacity and reduce cost. Whilst we haven’t seen transformational change reducing, the cost to deliver that is being scrutinised and understandably so.
How do you feel the industry has dealt with things not directly impacted by the socio-economic changes such as gender disparity?
Kate: From our research on the gender gap in our whitepaper Change Starts With Bravery, we know there is still more to do. We have identified some key themes in terms of education, life events and imposter syndrome and have developed a manifesto with specific calls to action for the industry to take forward.
In 2022, it’s such a shame that gender disparity is still prevalent and in fact, a general lack of diversity exists across the industry.
In 2023, we’d like to see more decisive action on removing barriers to women. Men can step up and be gender allies, talking about the impact of the menopause could be normalised, and it would be helpful to see more flexible working policies. Equality isn’t much to ask for.
What are you most proud of what Simplify has achieved in 2022?
Carl: We don’t have a hard sales technique so believe strongly in delivering value for our clients in such a way that we are asked to help out in other areas. This is a big focus for us – and it’s one of the main ways we grow our business.
We’re committed to working efficiently with clients to help them achieve their ambitions. We have no desire to stay more than one day longer than we are required for, so we’re really proud of the fact that we win a lot of repeat business, we build a great reputation with our clients, and we get some great feedback and testimony.
Kate: Raising £40k for our chosen charities (Forest Holme Hospice and Solent Mind) this year – given the challenging environment, we have been so grateful for the immense generosity of everyone. It has been a fantastic team effort.
What are your top 3 predictions for 2023?
1. Increasing regulatory focus through consumer duty and ops resilience and the continued focus on vulnerable customers will shine a light on operational teams with servicing remaining a really core feature of competitive advantage. Digital enablement will continue to be a focus area, but at the heart of a strong service proposition is a world class customer experience.
2. We’ll have market turmoil (hopefully less government turmoil) and the looming recession and cost of living crisis will really start to bite as the cost of tax rises hit home. It will be interesting to see how markets react to a very different type of recession and whether investors will find some solace in recovering stock markets.
3. Tottenham (still) won’t win anything….
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