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2020 Update – Happy Holidays!

 It’s an understatement for me to declare what you already know: 2020 has been a strange year, by all standards. We have watched the world around us collapse in some areas and remake itself in others. It has morphed from what was normal to a new normal, with both negative and positive changes. Its impact has been varied and, in some case, dramatically different from one situation and person to another. Everyone here at Cove has been very lucky in that we have not been personally affected in a significantly negative way; the same goes for Cove as a company. We do not take our good fortune for granted and have worked to extend help to our community as much as possible.

2020 Cove Highlights

A shift to working remotely…

In December 2019, we made an operational decision to change the way we use technology. We wanted to maximize available tools and make sure we were keeping up with trends, from both a productivity and security perspective. We had been using the cloud for data storage and file management for some time, and so we were running a virtually paperless office. A couple of our notable changes:

  • We moved from fixed landlines to Microsoft Teams for our phone and communications. Our now 100% cloud-based system included video conferencing and a remote and portable phone system.
  • We also traded in our desktop computers for laptops and tablets to reduce our energy consumption and increase portability.

While on a trip to Costa Rica in the early part of 2020 (ah…remember travel?), Christie and I had a chance to try out our new remote systems. It was mostly Christie who tested the new Teams platform, as I refused to infringe on my vacation time. Christie liked the way it worked. She decided to spend a little time each day to keeping up on her emails, and it paid off for her—she did not have a backlog of work to come back to. I, of course, was stuck spending the first few days of my return catching up on everything I had missed. Whenever it is safe to travel again, I will be doing it differently by making our trip to Costa Rica a work holiday to see what it’s like to work from our favourite vacation place.

We had no idea that our plan to enhance our remote work capabilities would play such an important role in making our ability to adjust to the pandemic so seamless. Aside from needing a few extra web cams, we were ready to roll right from the start of the pandemic.

Like with most workplaces, the challenges of the pandemic encouraged us to fully utilize our remote working capabilities by holding all our internal and external meetings via Zoom or Teams. We shifted Luciana, Brent, and Warren to remote working, while Christie, me, and Nikki (Nikki lives with us) continued to come into the office. We have a private entrance, so it works well.

One thing that we all discovered was how much more efficient virtual meetings are. At first it was a little strange and took some time to get used to, but we have become proficient users over the past months. I find it hard to believe it took a pandemic for us to learn this great technology. We have certainly saved a lot of driving time and packed a lot more into our days.

Expanding the COVE family…

One of the biggest highlights for 2020 was our daughter Nikki joining Cove. In May of this year, she joined Cove on a full-time basis. Nikki worked for Cove, part time, in the past and had expressed an interest in becoming an insurance advisor. After some internal discussions about having another family member join Cove, it was unanimously decided that Nikki would be a great addition to the team. She was excited to start a career in sales, and we were happy to have someone who is so dedicated to Cove’s success. I learned about the value of having a next generation family member being part of the future of the company once I saw her high level of commitment and her long-term expectation as a contributing member of our team and Cove’s success.

Pandemic Challenges

Like all businesses and industries, the pandemic impacted Cove on an operation level. It did not take long for the insurance companies to accelerate their intended move to a more digital operational platform with the introduction of e-applications and e-signature capabilities. The move to a virtual insurance application process is still not perfect, but the advances have been remarkable.

The biggest challenge that we faced was when most Canadian life insurance companies decided to stop accepting medical test results for insurance applications. It effectively stopped all pending and new applications from being processed. Without going into too much detail here, the actions by the insurance companies were inappropriate on several levels. After three letters to our finance minister in protest and multiple calls to insurance company executives, paramedic facility executives, and the CLHIA, we were able to bring a halt to their prohibition and resume business as usual. It was a three-month fight that I wish I did not have to have. Although we did not get the best solution (legislation to prevent it from happening again), we, and every other insurance advisor in the country, were able to serve our clients again. It was a thankless exercise, and, although there was no glory, we believe we resolved the problem months ahead of the insurance companies’ schedule. You can read more about this issue in our blog.

1% For The Planet

Cove continues to support environmental charities through our affiliation with 1% For The Planet. For 2020, we split our contributions between 5 organizations, including Ecojustice, North Shore Stream Keepers, Wild Bird Trust, Climate Smart, and the parent organization 1% For The Planet. You can find our complete Impact Report here.

1% For People

Cove continues to support our community through our commitment to funding 1% For People. For 2020, we split our contributions between 8 organizations, including the Tsleil-waututh Nation Skills Centre, Harvest House, SheEO, Cove Yoga, Wat Metta Forest Monastery, North Shore Women’s Centre, North Shore Disability Resource Centre, and Iskwew Air Lift. You can find our complete Impact Report here.

Benefit Company Registration

On July 24, 2020, Cove Continuity Advisors Inc. became one of the first companies to be registered under the new British Columbia Benefit Company legislation that was passed into law on May 15, 2019. We have added the following benefit provisions and statement to our corporate articles. Many thanks to Carl Jacobson, of Synergy Business Lawyers, for his work to make the Benefit Company legislation a reality in BC and his assistance in getting Cove Advisors registered. It was great to work with someone with his depth of knowledge and experience in this specialized area of corporate law.

20.01 Benefit Provision

This Company is a benefit company and, as such, is committed to conducting its business in a responsible and sustainable manner. We have committed to promote the following public benefits:

  1. Providing financial support to non-profit organizations, approved by the third-party organization “1% for the Planet,” engaged in fighting climate change and environmental degradation;
  2. Providing financial support to organizations and individuals engaged in educating other individuals towards gaining physical, mental, and/or emotional self-sufficiency;
  3. Using the Company’s voice and influence to promote justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Company’s local and global communities; and
  4. Using the Company’s business as a force for good by promoting transparency and accountability in the way the Company does business, while promoting these same values throughout the Company’s business ecosystem such that all stakeholders, including the Company’s shareholders, employees, customers, partners, suppliers, community, and the environment benefit from governance practices that are inclusive and compassionate.

Introducing Cloud Advisor

One of the great flaws about email is that it is inherently insecure. Every cyber security specialist will tell you how vulnerable we are to security breaches through email. We wanted to find a way to increase the security of the information we share with our clients and partners, especially since we rely more and more on digital information sharing and virtual meetings. A colleague of ours developed a virtual portal for the group benefits market called Cloud Advisors. We are excited to roll out our new client portal platform for 2021, which will allow us to share information safely and efficiently. We have begun to explore the possibilities for further uses, and we look forward to introducing you to its expanding capabilities.

2020 Team Highlights

Christie

2020 has been a year of inward journey. With the start of the pandemic, Bernie and I found the only place to go was inside: Inside our house, inside our mind, and inside our hearts. I got to know myself and my loved ones on an entirely new level. 

I have learned to be at peace with myself. I have learned how to avoid crowds and to wear a mask. It’s funny how, when watching a movie or a television program, I wonder how they could be all crowded in a small area—this now seems foreign.

Our family has been able to stay safe. For this I am truly grateful. 

We have really learned to enjoy the North Shore and get out on the trails more than ever before. This respite has helped since we’ve missed our beloved Point Roberts, as we have not been able to get to our home there since March 2020. I remember years ago someone asking me “what would happen if you couldn’t cross the border, or the border was closed?”  My response was, “there is absolutely no reason why the border would close.” Boy, was I wrong! But, then again, who was prepared for a worldwide pandemic?

Warren

What a year! Like most families, we spent a lot of time together when the pandemic hit. Lots of biking, hiking, and tennis when outdoors; movies and games when indoors. In the summer, my family even got me out on the water to try stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking (which is quite an achievement as I am not a water person).

It’s been different and fun working from home (which I have been since March). I see everyone in the office quite a bit…just not in person. Adapting to a virtual environment has been a challenge, but one we have met with great excitement.  There seems to be endless possibilities on how the virtual/digital world can enhance our business and the client experience.

Our girls are excited for Christmas, and we got all the decorations up early this year.  And with our Christmas trip cancelled, we’re looking forward to spending more time together at home (maybe we’ll have a Star Wars movie marathon!) and skiing up at Seymour. Let’s hope for some snow and a white Christmas.

Luciana

2020…the year my patience and positivity were heavily tested. Beach and mountain walking, breathing deep, gratitude, lots of painting, looking to the horizon, dancing, and laughing were my daily survival tools.

We had one mild COVID case in our family—my son, who worked in a restaurant kitchen. He acted fast and managed not to get anyone else infected because he followed the protocols: wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, sanitizing regularly, and quarantining when needed. We must practice these measures every day!

Oh, boy, how much I miss hugs, holding hands with my kids who do not live with us, kisses, social life, crowds, live music, people noise, dancing with friends, seeing full faces, and international travel. At the same time, my husband and I learned to appreciate each other more than ever. We love living in Vancouver and spending long weekends taking in the beauty of Christina lake, Parksville, Tofino, and Sun Peaks, all of which are close by.

On the work side, I enrolled in the Climate Smart program for our office and look forward to continuing some of the excellent positive changes we were forced to activate to the fullest during COVID-19 such as avoiding commuting by meeting clients and contacts online and going much further with “paperless,” to reduce CO2 levels.

Stay positive—we will get there. Peace to all.

Brent

2020 has been an excellent, yet challenging year for me and my family!

Personally, I had a health issue early in the year related to prostate cancer. After surgery and treatment at BC’s excellent Cancer Clinic in Vancouver, as well as Lion’s Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, I am healthy and, on the mend, and looking to be cured in the new year! In terms of other health goals, I continued to focus on mindfulness and meditation with success and have managed to keep fit in terms of cardio and weight, despite putting my gym membership on hold until the pandemic is under control.

My wife is in good shape, health wise, and had an excellent year becoming a partner of her accounting firm. Our three children are all healthy and doing well in their careers, with the two girls, both B Comms, now living and working in London, UK. They’re loving it, despite the pandemic-controlled environment, and look forward to more European travel once restrictions are lifted!

Our son has been back home for a few months after his extensive travels through Asia and India and is now in the process of choosing his next job. He is a computer engineer and is deciding between a company in California and the one he started in Toronto with two other fellow Queen’s grads. Both are high tech, with the California one in aviation and the Toronto one is mining technology. Good news all around, although we will miss him.

Nikki

2020 has been a year of constantly learning to adapt to this new way of life due to the pandemic. It has been hard to go through the ups and downs of the quarantine life – but along with it came some positive outcomes. I was lucky enough to join the Cove team back in May, as well as dive into my studies to receive my life insurance license. Even though I am only just starting out, I am very excited to see what the future holds for me. While it’s hard not to be living my pre-pandemic “normal” life, I have taken this time to really put more focus into work and my schooling as I have MUCH more free time to do so.

Before more serious restrictions hit, I was able to still enjoy my summer with a close bubble, making best use of spending time outdoors as much as possible. A highlight was the time where my bubble and I spent an entire day boating around the Sunshine Coast, exploring all the beauty it has to offer.

Although the future of normal life is unclear, I am grateful to start my journey with Cove and watch how my career develops with all the amazing knowledge and support available to me here.

The Future

No one knows what the future holds, but we are sure it will be filled with change. We recognize how fortunate we have been and that so many have found 2020 incredibly hard. We encourage you to think of those who may be facing difficulty this holiday season.

With that in mind, we send you best wishes for the holiday season and hopes that your change will be the kind that brings you peace and happiness.

 

Sincerely,

Bernie Geiss

 

PS, Please note that our office will be closed for the holidays from:

2:00 PM December 23rd until Monday January 4rd, 2021.

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270-2255 Dollarton Highway
North Vancouver BC
V7H 3B1

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