Just about a year ago, on March 13, 2020, we made the decision to close our office and work from home like so many of you did. Who knew, at the time, that this would have continued for as long as it has with no end in sight?
I would like to begin by saying that I am acutely aware of the personal hardship and sorrow of many people who have lost loved ones, employment, businesses and hope during this difficult period, both in this country and around the world. The effects of this pandemic have certainly been uneven. I am also extremely grateful for the courage and sacrifice of so many frontline workers who have laboured tirelessly and risked their own health and lives for others.
At the same time, I have also been extremely proud of how our staff and clients have managed through this difficult time. There has been a beautiful spirit of teamwork, partnership and flexibility that I know will serve all of us all well over the long term.
It has actually been a very busy year at Northwood. Our staff and clients have all adapted well to the new digital format. Some clients even prefer the convenience of video chats versus in-person meetings and I suspect they may continue post pandemic in some manner. New business continues to be strong and we have added a number of new client families over this past year. We have also hired nine new staff during the pandemic, which brings us to 26 people, up from only 12 five years ago. These staff members have dubbed themselves the ‘Covid Crew’, and have been great additions to the client service and operations teams.
We have a highly-skilled, professionally-qualified, diverse and enthusiastic team who are passionate about serving our client families. Among our team, we now have 11 CPAs (and two in process), five CFPs (and two in process), four CFAs (and five in process), six MBA/MEng/MPAcc’s, one TEP, and one JD.
We have used this unique period of time to work on some significant strategic issues as a team. We engaged a strategic consultant to help us put our minds and energy toward some important topics that will build an even stronger foundation for the future, such as people and culture, professional development, and client service enhancements.
We have also been working hard on our new portfolio management and client reporting software and expect to roll it out later this year. This new software will allow us to improve our overall client service and introduce new technologies such as a mobile app.
We were also honored to once again be rated the #1 family office in Canada in the Euromoney private banking survey.
While the past year had been challenging, we have remained focused on the task at hand and serving the families that have entrusted their financial and family wealth to us. We are grateful for their trust and confidence every day and look forward to continuing to evolve as the families we serve evolve.
I hope you enjoy the incoming spring weather and get a chance to spend some quality time outside with family and friends in the coming months.