In this series, members of the Cerno team reflect on the crisis and provide detail on their work and domestic lives.
For our next interview, we caught up with Joseph Joyce, Finance Director, to hear how his role has had to adapt to challenges presented by the crisis, and what has kept him busy at home.
Joseph, in one sentence please sum up your role at Cerno Capital.
My job title is Finance Director, however in boutique firms like Cerno you often find that you tend to wear many hats. I regularly get involved in all aspects of the firm including finance, risk & compliance, fund accounting, client relations and marketing.
How has your job changed during COVID-19?
I am still just as busy as I was before! The most challenging part of not being in the office and not being able to meet people in person, has been dealing with new clients and investors.
I’ve also found that most of our counterparties require “wet signature” versions of signed documents and are not always willing to accept scanned versions of passports. I’m hoping the current situation might lead to some progress in terms of bringing this part of the industry up to date with modern technology.
There was a little bit of an adjustment period to working from home, but as soon as I managed to sort out my work set-up everything seems to have started to operate very smoothly.
What do you miss about office life?
I miss the buzz of the office. From where my desk is, I am within talking distance of most colleagues, which creates an atmosphere that my kitchen table, with the dog snoring in the background, is struggling to match. Being able to hear everything that is going on in the office makes it easier to keep track of everything that is going on and allows team members who wouldn’t necessarily be involved in some processes, to chime in with potentially valuable input.
Another rather surprising thing I’m missing is my commute. I’m probably looking back on it with rose-tinted glasses, but I do miss the 25 minutes or so that I would normally spend on the train which I can just have to myself and my thoughts.
One new skill you’ve learnt since working from home?
My first purchase of lockdown was a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker, which turned out to be the perfect task to keep me occupied over the wonderful sunny weekends we’ve been enjoying. Whilst I can’t claim to have become any sort of expert, there is definitely something satisfyingly primal about spending the whole day tinkering with a cooking fire.
I’m hoping that we will be allowed guests over for BBQs soon, as my wife is starting to get fed up with the endless cuts of slow cooked meats that I’ve been serving up.
What have you been doing to keep fit? Have you discovered a new form of exercise?
Since the lockdown has started to ease slightly, we have found ourselves branching out from just running. The excitement of the reopening of the tennis and golf clubs subsided quickly, and we have now moved on to swimming in the Thames (in Berkshire, not London!). More recently, we bought a Canadian-style Canoe although we are yet to make our maiden voyage.
Favourite bingeworthy TV show?
In the first few weeks of lockdown I became quite obsessed with True Detective. A gripping crime drama series which blends some excellent acting with a storyline that builds slowly throughout, it manages to keep you on the edge of your seat.
I also binge-watched the entire Last Dance Netflix documentary on the 1990s Chicago Bulls NBA dynasty, which is one of the best sports documentaries that I’ve ever seen. I find the behind the scenes look at ‘90s professional sport quite eye-opening, particularly set against the strict regimes of modern day sportsmen and women. On top of that, Michael Jordan has always been one of my all-time sporting heroes – I find the combination of talent, drive and personality is very compelling.
Finally, what do you think might be the longer-term consequences for the UK and Global societies following the pandemic?
I think there is potential for quite wide-ranging consequences as a result of the pandemic. In terms of office life, I think it is likely that there will be an acceleration of the existing trend towards more remote working. Many professional offices have realised that with modern technology, it is actually not too much of a stretch to operate pretty much as normal with nobody in the office. Additionally, as companies have invested in all the necessary hardware for people’s homes during this period, it would seem wasteful not to utilise this and potentially benefit from needing slightly less office space in the future.