2020 – what a strange year it’s been…

Only a few weeks to the end of 2020 and what a strange year it’s been, for all of us. It’s been a year like no other – full of uncertainty and huge changes for businesses, as well as heart-warming generosity and kindness. Businesses have struggled and businesses have thrived. Some people have welcomed the slow pace of life, while others have grappled with it… In our final blog of the year, we decided to ask some of our staff how they got through this year and what it meant for them.

 

Mary – What a year it has been. It’s certainly been a roller-coaster ride for the stock market this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. In February, the markets had the steepest decline since 1929, but in April this year, we saw the steepest incline since 1930. The global markets have adjusted since March 2020 but will remain volatile for some time yet. This year more than any has reinforced the importance of having a long-term plan. It has tested the best of us when it comes to remaining focused and looking forward. Having a solid financial plan in place and a strategy behind it meant many of our clients were confident about getting through these turbulent times.

It’s been a challenging year for our business too. We closed our doors back in March but the business itself remained open. We’ve had to adapt to working remotely and embrace technology. Not being able to meet clients in person has been especially difficult, but at least we were able to communicate through zoom, skype and phone. It’s amazing how fast you can learn a new skill when we had too.

On a personal note, it’s given me a greater appreciation of family life although homeschooling was an experience I am happy to move on from.

 

Cleona – In one sense this year has been a year to ‘take stock’. From a business perspective – we were doing business one way because that’s all we knew whereas 2020 forced us to reassess and somewhat embrace the possibilities that technology offered. Traditionally our industry was not strong in the IT space, heavy on paper and relying on post or face-to-face meeting to get business done. With Zoom, Microsoft Teams and digital signatures – we have now found a more streamlined process when helping clients. I certainly miss a lot of the face-to-face meetings as it is harder to establish new relationships over the phone or Zoom. So, from 2021 & beyond, it will hopefully be a better balance – less travelling for the sake of it and when we have client meetings, they will be more valued and meaningful.

Personally, 2020 has brought our family closer together. Weekend family walks are now the norm, rather than all of us running and racing in different directions!!! Homeschooling was not a success in our house, definitely, there was too much FUN to be had so I won’t want to see a repeat of that in the near future!!

I’m looking forward to 2021 with more positive news on vaccines coming out every day. What the ‘new norm’ will be is any one’s guess but I believe O’Leary Financial Planning will further embrace technology to enhance our customer’s experience, eliminate as much time-wasting and strive to have a business that is sustainable for many years to come. I believe that many clients now have a greater appreciation of the importance of Financial Planning, by working with their Certified Financial Planner, they have the certainty of knowing that their financial situation can even withstand the impact of a Pandemic!

 

Helen – 2020 was a year unlike any other. I remained in the office so although there was no major difference on a day to day basis, it was good to have that routine and interaction with colleagues.  It was strange initially with the limited numbers in the office, but we all adapted pretty quickly to this new way of working.  We are lucky to be living in an age where thanks to technology, we can still communicate and carry on our business.

On a personal level, 2020 made me appreciate the simple things in life, sitting outside in the garden with my family or meeting up with a friend for a coffee. I am looking forward to a vaccine in 2021 and being able to travel again …

 

Deirdre – The pandemic brought with it a rude awakening. We all talk about work/life balance but haven’t always addressed it or in fact ‘found the time to’. I’ve realised we must ‘make time’. It taught me to slow down and to reassess not only how I work but how I live. I have been working remotely since March 2020 which affords me greater flexibility and focus as a fulltime working parent. I’d be lying if I said it was easy when the schools were closed or that I didn’t miss the office banter. But like anything in life, there are pros and cons.

I hope we never forget 2020 and that in 2021 we keep looking up from our phones at bus stops, in coffee shop queues, on daily walks, in quieter offices… to smile or greet our neighbours. We all have a story. Let’s remember to pace ourselves, stay connected and work together for a better future.

 

Maura – Closing our doors back in March meant having to rethink our plans for the year. We had to park a lot of our scheduled marketing projects and establish a greater digital presence, get up to speed pretty quickly on alternative communication tools and use technology more to connect with clients. It did give us the time to streamline our processes inhouse, look at alternative digital marketing tools to help sustain and grow the business, and develop our own skills to help improve the client experience something that has been on our to-do list for the last few years but which we never had the time to really assess and improve, until now.

On a personal level, this year has been grounding. I’ve spent more time with family and checked in more often with relations and neighbours. I got out for more walks to places I hadn’t been to in years such as Coole, the Flaggy Shore and even climbed Diamond Hill, (I’m still recovering). I’m optimistic for 2021 when we can go to gigs again, the theatre and meet up with friends in the Sportsground to watch Connacht play, I miss that.

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