The voice of contact centres and financial services

Industry Spotlight:
Ian Praed

Welcome to the first, of what will be a regular, quarterly newsletter and it really couldn’t come at a more opportune time


Most of us would have come into 2020, as in most years, with a variety of hopes, ambitions and intent…and if we’re honest, also a few fears. But it is always a time to focus on what we’ll achieve, what we’ll deliver, how we’ll improve our respective firms and organisations through acquisition, process improvements, new product launches, tech. development/deployment or rebranding/relaunching to list just some of our strategic and tactical imperatives.

2020 has to date however not played out like previous years and continues to provide us with a series of unprecedented challenges and, strangely at the same time, opportunities.

I’m sure all organisations involved in the Programme have spent many hours seeking to develop viable plans for how we navigate a course through the Covid-19 crises. Previously, we would all have produced Business Continuity plans and undertaken BCP exercises and role plays. Operational resilience is increasingly a key issue for our firms as the nature of work and the way in which we engage with service and product providers has changed but it’s fair to say that the real and immediate impacts of the Coronavirus and subsequent lockdown across the UK brought these issues, if they were not there already, clearly to the front of our thinking.

Many firms had previously encouraged home working as part of their employment brand – something that makes them more attractive to many potential hires. At the same time, for some FS firms the requirement to have colleagues in the office between x and y o’clock was still the accepted norm. But the pandemic has changed that……

We have all had to re-imagine our approaches and thinking to ensure that our organisations and our working and employment practices are best placed to deal with a post COVID-19 world.

Things I knew little or nothing of are now the norm. Not just Tik Tok and House Party but the unprecedented response to the pandemic through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS); the furloughing of employees to avoid systemic redundancies to the extraordinary way in which colleagues have adapted to Working from Home (WFH) supported by technology of course, but held together by colleagues supporting each other through virtual meetings, lunches, quizzes etc. to ensure that the team remains a team despite the circumstances.

The response of many firms across the UK, but especially FS firms in Wales has been exemplary. Encouraging, supporting, recognising that extraordinary times call for extraordinary responses.

We don’t yet know what the new ‘normal’ will look like but I’ve a hunch it will be better than the old version. The best firms are putting the welfare and protection of their colleagues at the forefront of their thinking and planning. Return to premise working will undoubtably return, maybe not as it was, but in some form. The key to this is that those same firms will only move forward once they are confident that they have considered how the new landscape needs to look and have worked to recognise all concerned to find the most appropriate way forward.

For the delegates on the scheme, Covid-19 will undoubtably be looked back on as a pivotal event that contributed to a significant impact on the way in which work, works. Newer, smarter, better was always good to aspire to……now it’s imperative.

The impact of COVID-19 will continue for the foreseeable future, and I know that it will have affected all of us in many in different ways. Please be safe and continue to look out for each other be that as friends, family or colleagues.

Thanks to Ian Praed, COO, Optimum Credit
& Chair of Graduate Programme Strategic Advisory Board.

Talk to the team today!