Ovation Finance – Our EO Story

We are Bristol-based, independent, Chartered Financial Planners. With over 20 years’ experience in helping clients use their wealth to accumulate life, not the other way around. Our team, that includes seven employee owners, truly take the time to get to know our clients. Ovation’s expert Planners help clients find out what they want from life and help them manage their money, for true Financial Wellbeing.

Ovation became employee owned in March 2018 and since that time we have found that a genuine interest from management about our views and opinions really makes a difference. We feel we want to give as much back as we are being given.

The EO culture within Ovation drove many positive decisions during the early days of the pandemic. The management team enabled all employees to work from home before the government mandate. With the team feeling safe and no longer anxious about working conditions, we could all focus on our clients and ensure we still delivered the high-quality service they would usually expect from us.

Alongside the early months of the pandemic, we also saw stock market volatility leading to an understandable concern from our clients about their investments. Being employee owned meant we all felt empowered to act on experience and past knowledge in knowing what would work well for individual clients. We continued to be available and encouraged our clients to talk to our advisors when they felt overwhelmed by the situation. Whilst normal annual review meetings moved to video calls, we also kept in regular contact through direct phone calls, a regular pub quiz on Zoom and tailoring our monthly newsletters to reassuring and positive content throughout the year.

We have noticed the pandemic playing a big role in how everyone has adapted to new technologies. We launched our client portal MyOvation in July 2020. With many financial providers now accepting digital signatures for most of their documents, the team can now send messages and important documents for clients to sign this way. The system is more secure than email and clients can download the app directly to their tablet or smartphone so they can take a look whenever needed. Transactions that normally take days or weeks, can now be completed in minutes.

For some clients, as the lockdowns continued, they found their life choices had changed. A few enjoyed the slower pace of lockdown and this crystalised their thoughts on retirement. For others becoming furloughed or losing their jobs meant they needed to assess what steps could to be taken to ensure their financial plans stayed on track. Our advisers could update and adapt financial plans as situations changed, this was due to the positive way we work as a team.

As the pandemic continued and we understood working from home would become the new normal, the team discussed and constantly made small changes in the way we worked to ensure no task was missed and everyone was informed. This has been a big challenge as we previously worked as a close-knit team in an open plan office. In the office it was easy to double check any action with those around us. Now working from home we have become empowered to make our own decisions and to trust our judgements, in the knowledge that management will back up our choices and we feel valued as a result of this.

We also found communication within the team needed to adapt as we continued to work from home. Whilst working in the open-plan office, collaboration and socialisation would often happen spontaneously as we could all hear and join in conversations as they happened. We now understand the limitations of messaging systems and have adapted to how to get the best from each team member as work patterns differ for each person! Whilst we have been empowered to be flexible with our work and pace ourselves as needed, everyone has noticed we are getting a lot more work done.

However, we also acknowledged this increase in work was at the detriment of social interactions. It turns out those office ‘water-cooler chats’ play a vital role in the working day. Isolation from the team whilst working from home was a struggle. Especially if, like Chartered Financial Planner Tom Morris, you were in lockdown with a toddler! We created the space in our calendars for a coffee chat each afternoon for anyone to join as wanted. With only one rule – no business talk.

Throughout the year we took the time to celebrate as a team whenever possible. One summers day we celebrated a 20th work anniversary with a socially distanced picnic. Another time the team unanimously agreed they wanted home-made cake posted to each member so we could mark Ovation’s three-year EO anniversary! We also acknowledge each team members starting month anniversary with a gift to celebrate.

During this time of change, Ovation as a business has thrived. Clients have always been at the centre of what we do, but employee wellbeing has been key to our success. Managing Director Adrian Kidd continually seeks the team’s thoughts and views. This enables the management team to act in the interest of everyone, so we can work safely and efficiently for each other and our clients. Ovation has always been a nice place to work, and our employee ownership has really nurtured this culture. Administrator Hayley Watts sums it up wonderfully – ‘Being empowered as an employee is a great feeling, you have a real part to play in the business future and in your own future with the business.’