Read the tea leaves then read the room

Martin Stewart

February 24, 2021

Martin Stewart is director of The Money Group

I know someone who is a medium, well they were at the start of lockdown, so if they’re anything like me they are probably an XXL by now.

Awful jokes aside, I do know people who talk with the ghosts and so I get to hear what the spirit world is up to, what they think of what is happening down here and what they see the future looking like for us all.

It can be eye opening stuff. I’m not here to debate the pro’s and cons or the authenticity of the great mediums throughout history such as Nostradamus, Baba Vanga or Derek Acorah.

But it does get me thinking, what would we do if we knew what was coming?

Would we work more diligently or be more kind to others? Would we throw caution to the wind and live carefree as though it were the last days in the Berlin Bunker?

Off the back of the pandemic we have all read a lot of predictions about the future.

Some of them have been very prescient, some completely missed the target and some will no doubt meet somewhere in the middle between the old normal and the new normal.

I am often heard shouting at anyone who will listen about where I think our industry may be heading and I have been giving that a lot of thought in recent months.

The first lesson I learned from the past year is that we were all doing business wrong.

We knew that technology was doing some heavy lifting, but it took the pandemic to come along and show us exactly where.

Will we ever get back belly to belly for a heart to heart with clients to the same degree that we once did?

Yes, there might be a need for the occasional face to face but given everyone in our sector appears to have knocked it out of the park during lockdown it is hard to justify dragging people half-way around a transport network for a cup of tea and a natter.

Assuming of course that the clients want a meeting.

It would only take 10% of us to collectively change our mind about something for a whole new economic foundation to begin to take shape.

Yes we will get some of the old life back, but given the adage that it only takes 21 days to form a habit then its also fair to assume that after 365 days there will be lots of new habits fairly well embedded within society.

With the average commute to London standing at 74 mins then suddenly the additional 3 hours working from home has benefits for employee and employer, but not so much the purveyor of £10 Japanese noodle lunches.

Business attitudes will drive a lot of what will come our way.

Commerce, like water, will always try and find the path of least resistance.

If money can be made without the baggage and expense of a previous model, trust me that’s the route it will go down.

Today you can order anything to your door within 24 hours be that flannelette bedding or a gourmet meal.

Throw in Joe Wicks for pudding and we suddenly start to move closer to a life where people might never have to leave the footprint of their property again.

I am not suggesting that is anywhere near healthy, but the opportunity is now more visible for people that at any time before.

I think what we might start to see is a coagulation of capitalism (and yes I have just made that phrase up).

In essence we may start to see a coming together of businesses that previously may have been sustainable but might now struggle to compete with a new economic reality.

As a result, could we start to see some consolidation in our industry?

Now could be the ideal time to grab some of the thornier issues in our industry and maybe look to close the gap on our IFA brethren who have left us behind in terms of remuneration, qualification and consolidation.

And it may not be COVID-19 that really speeds up that change.

Anyone who has recently tried to renew their PI policy will tell you it is not quite the same as buying holiday insurance online.

The cost of regulation appears to be a one-way ticket.

The cost of you doing business is going up and the cost of doing business with you is also going up. Something will need to give.

So you could do a lot worse than buddying up with some peers and aim to be visible rather than divisible.

Divide and conquer works especially if its you that is doing the conquering.

Everybody wants an exit, but we’re all too busy to have time to look for the door.

So lets take what positives we can from what we have all recently endured and make 2021 the year where we all start to figure out a clearer vision for the industry.

As Jack Welch once said: “Control your own destiny or someone else will.”

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