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When he uttered the immortal line “there is no education like adversity”, one wonders whether former prime minister Benjamin Disraeli believed his words would remain so relevant over 140 years later.
Few of us could have foreseen the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the business world. However, these challenging times have presented organisations with an opportunity to step back and learn more about themselves. Indeed, it has been fascinating to hear how clients and business advisers are using this period to take stock and look forward.
For some businesses, this will only be possible once the current situation stabilises. To that end, advice on what measures and support should be considered has been made widely available – including by my own firm – to help businesses benefit from initiatives such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and Government-backed loans.
As advisers, we have, more than ever, focused on having regular dialogue with clients. Many have sought an independent perspective on their business; we have been invited to join virtual board meetings and management discussions, with topics ranging from cash management and supplier contracts to international markets and diversification.
Almost overnight, businesses have reacted to new ways of working, remote working being a good example. There was undoubtedly scepticism about ensuing efficiencies in certain quarters, but a number of companies have been pleasantly surprised. Many businesses and employees will still want a central office hub and human interaction, but could a greater focus on agile working and flexible workspaces, coupled with further advances in technology, lead to more businesses reassessing their plans?
It has also become increasingly essential to maintain relationships with fellow professional advisers. We have seen a rise in the number of online networking events, with few participants seemingly missing the early-morning drive to the meeting. Closer to home, the strong take-up of our Property Development team’s online webinars suggests there is a genuine demand for events in this format.
To echo Mr Disraeli’s sentiments, now is the time to reflect, learn and make strategic decisions which will allow businesses to thrive once normal service resumes. And it will happen – it’s just a question of when.