A quick update on our new normal

Our editor discusses the new normal for the industry and Global Custodian alike, as we deal with unprecedented change in securities services.
By Jon Watkins

Google Ngram Viewer is a cool little web application that shows you the frequency with which specific words and phrases have been used in literature over past 200 years. Take ‘custody’ for example, its peak use was actually in 1823 when it appeared 0.0015% percent of the time before plunging into relative obscurity until our very own publication came along in the 1980s and injected a bit of 19th Century-style fuel into the word. 

Historic use of ‘new normal’. Source: Google Ngram

Why this is relevant is that we are about to see the hockey stick effect for some new or revived phrases and terminology that were seldom used before the COVID-19 outbreak began. I’m sure the following will sound familiar: ‘the new normal’, ‘flattening the curve’, ‘shall we set up a zoom?’. You’ll be lucky to go through a day without hearing these phrases now, along with – of course – coronavirus, COVID-19 and pandemic, unfortunately. But these phrases and this stark reality are both part of our present and our future now, whether we like it or not.

Moving forward and contemplating ‘the new normal’ there will be myriad of changes in the way we work, communicate and do business. Grasping this while adapting to working remotely, keeping up with pressing current affairs and taking care of your health and the ones around you can be overwhelming. On top of that organisations are focusing on business continuity plans and ensuring they are still serving clients and bringing in revenue as spending has plummeted and end investors are reportedly withdrawing their investments in funds.  

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Going forward, the investment community is set to embrace environmental, social and governance (ESG) much more after the concept proved its worth during the crisis, while the virus has also exposed the fragility of our planet. Remote working will also open up flexible working, perhaps giving some who had been held back from opportunities a more level playing field. The crisis has also exposed the industry once again for its reliance on manual processes, becoming another catalyst for innovation and change for the better. 

Here at Global Custodian we’ve had to adapt too. In lieu of networking events and recognising more of our audience are working remotely, we’ve upped our digital content through podcasts, webinars, videos and e-mags. We’ve also opened up our blog section to those who want to pen something useful and topical for our audience and checked in with custodians throughout the world over Zoom series Keeping up with the Custodians. The start of our webinar series this month was a roaring success so we’ll be planning plenty more virtual events for the future. 

As a thanks to our loyal subscribers we’ve issued special research reports and regional focuses, along with a lockdown guide with all the latest market structure and regulatory changes occurring due to the pandemic. If you don’t have a subscription we’re running offers throughout this year and even made our digital magazine free-to-read for the very first time in the publication’s history. 

In the coming months we’ll have some new focused podcast and video series building on the highly successful There’s Always a FinReg Angle and the aforementioned Keeping up with the Custodians. Fund services will become much more of a focus for us as we move into the summer and release our Hedge Fund Annual, while we’re also looking forward to publishing the results of our first ever ETF survey and publishing the results from our 31 Reasons to be Excited for the Future initiative. This is our new normal, do get in touch and tell us about yours. 

Given this is such a global community we’re all going to be impacted in different ways depending on the severity of the outbreak. We’ll also be coming out of lockdown at different times. But the after-effects of this pandemic will run deep through our global industry for a long time, in both positive and negative ways. We’re here to support you through that period of change and also tell your stories. 

On a personal note, we hope you are safe and well wherever you are in the world. For those in countries with the strictest quarantine rules, take solace that your global counterparts will be going through the same situation as you, giving an industry already connected through the nature of our work another level of solidarity. There will be good days and bad days ahead but once it is all over we will all be valuing seeing, meeting and networking with each other with a new-found appreciation.