COVID Crisis

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“During the COVID crisis Square Mile have been a shining light in the darkness.”  James Dawson, Humble Grape.

Well that choked us all up a bit to be honest.

It has certainly been a turbulent time for everyone, and we knew when it all began that our job was to remain calm amidst the chaos, and to do our level best to be the steadfast trusted advisers that our clients needed. 

During our recent weekly check-ins, we have been listening to how important that has been to our clients.

“During the COVID crisis Square Mile have been a shining light in the darkness. They have advised us through VAT and Furlough issues given us tremendous support in terms of modelling our cashflow through this crisis and made our applications for CBILS solid. I cannot recommend them highly enough” James Dawson, Founder.  Humble Grape.

To have been able to support our clients through this unprecedented storm, has been both a privilege and a very humbling experience.  We’d like to say we have been in control at all times, and not in the slightest bit panicked by what was going on.  But empathy, frustration and a whole bunch of other emotions have come into play as we’ve found ourselves in the trenches with our fellow comrades, trying to figure out which route to take to help them emerge as unscathed as possible. 

“Since the early days of the crisis, Square Mile has been there for us to provide advice and help us navigate through the information flood.  It was particularly helpful as the advice wasn’t just focusing on matters which relate to accountancy, instead they helped us consider the bigger picture in terms of all the help that was available. As soon as the CBILS became available, Martin helped us with considering different options and with quick and efficient preparation of the application and supporting documents and spreadsheets, we secured the loan successfully and feel that Martin’s support was instrumental.“ Ran Ankory, Founder. Scenario Architecture.

When the team recently took time to reflect on what has been achieved over the last few months, it occurred to us that it has really been about doing what we do day-to-day, just in a different gear. 

We’ve highlighted a few things which have made a world of difference to our clients and their teams, all of which we are committed to doing as part of our business as usual for as long as needed.

#1: Staying informed

“The amount of information and the speed at which things change has been one of the most challenging parts of managing this crisis.”

  • From the time the world plunged into unknown territory, we’ve made it a priority to keep up to date with the changes and announcements as they take place.

  • Clients have appreciated us communicating what we know in as clear a way as possible. Getting to the point and highlighting what it means for them.

  • Reviewing the funding options available was initially a daily challenge to begin with, as we were all working in real time.  Our connections with the powers that be helped us immensely in guiding our clients on how to make claims as watertight as possible.

  • Accessing the financial reliefs as soon as humanly possible has been important in helping to minimise the impact.

#2. Adapting

“Companies have never before faced such an urgent need to improve their agility and to increase their ability to learn quickly in order to change course – just to survive.” David Wood, Author and Chair of London Futurists.

  • There has been an understandable tendency for business owners and founders to go into crisis emergency measures, but we soon realised that this could actually endanger a company’s medium-term viability.

  • In some cases, we have been helping to identify options for how our clients could diversify their business.
  • We’ve had to adapt to, which has meant working odd hours to help client complete applications. In many cases, we have re-negotiated our fees and payment schedules with clients, which is one less thing to worry about.

  • Reviewing and adjusting cash flow and cash burn forecasts has helped to determine what impact our clients will have to adapt to in the medium and longer-term.

#3. Team culture

“The pandemic unquestionably will have lasting effects on company cultures. There’s a growing sense it’s a fundamental shift, a new normal.” Chuck Crumpton, Founder, Global Consulting.

  • The human impact of the crisis has been the biggest hurdle for many, with teams adapting to home working and parents juggling that alongside home schooling. We’ve recognised that communication and flexibility are really important aspects in keeping teams working together effectively.

  • We’ve looked at whether laying off employees is unavoidable. On top of having negative social and societal impacts, reducing your workforce also leads to a loss of key skills for a business. This should really be a last resort option. 

  • Some of our clients have found that when consulting their team, many preferred to take a temporary pay cut over redundancy. This is likely to increase staff loyalty and allow the business to resume operations more efficiently once the restrictions are lifted.

#4. Preparing for a post-pandemic future

“The virus is obviously catapulting everyone into a more digitised world, from digital doctors to remote learning and home working. But there will be other subtle but profound changes too, to society and to business.” Maneesh Juneja Digital Health Futurist 

  • As the restrictions start to lift, it’s important that our clients are preparing to get back on track. Which means keeping one step ahead, even when the tendency is to put everything on hold.

  • The last few months have been a reminder for our clients of the importance of having a robust finance function in place.  Things would have been a lot more challenging if our clients were unable to access the information that they needed in order to process applications and make appropriate plans. That along with high level advisory tools, such as scenario-based forecasts and future cashflow projections are key to overcoming whatever hurdles the future may bring.

  • Another element of future proofing is to encourage businesses to start building financial reserves as soon as possible, to prepare for a second peak in coronavirus cases even after the current restrictions are lifted.

If this crisis has taught us anything, it is that things are changing constantly.  We’re continually monitoring the situation to ensure we’re equipped to help clients transition to the new normal, whatever that may look like.  Another lesson we’ve learnt, is the extent to which is has revealed that its human ingenuity, human creativity and human courage that has helped us cope with the pandemic.  It’s those attributes that will put us in good stead to navigate whatever the future may hold as we prepare for life beyond COVID-19.

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