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Navigating Regulatory Waters: Friend or Food? How To Stay Ahead in Financial Services

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A doctor friend wrote this in a letter to her kids’ school. She and her husband, also a medical specialist, had experience dealing with SARS in Asia.

"We belong to the camp who believe the actions of individuals in the next few days and weeks will be critical to the death rate and course Australia charts... The math is convincing. Given the incubation period and behaviour of the virus, the current count of 250 (as at writing) documented proven infections and five deaths in Australia translates into 1600 actual current infections, some of whom will be revealed in tests already conducted, but most of whom are moving relatively freely in our communities, without realising they are contributing to tomorrow's logarithmic curve. The death rate of this doesn't bear articulating, yet all most of us can contribute to flattening the curve is our absence."

Business must lead the way

My latest conversations with clients and business leaders, both inside and outside financial services, and with several medical specialists on the weekend, land in the same place.

Businesses and the healthcare sector must lead, and act proactively, rather than wait for government.

There’s a strong belief that the government’s actions, while well-considered, are behind where they need to be to flatten the curve(ie to slow the exponential spread of the virus).

COVID-19 biting small business already

Smaller local organisations are facing the reality of immediate and severe financial impact, with some seeing their main sources of income (margin on AUM, insurance sales, events, advisory and professional fees etc) hit almost immediately. Some have struggled to respond as fast as global counterparts, and lag the bell curve in terms of adopting a operational mode that’s specific to COVID-19. 

In general, the larger the business, and the greater their operational footprint (e.g. physical operations and goods versus financial sector) the more sophisticated the management response. Some are looking immediately to model forward projections and reduce costs. All are considering next steps and facing the reality of a vastly different future. 

What management are already doing 

Every client and contact we’ve spoken to now have some level of response underway.  As mentioned last week, several clients have had to ask their people to self-isolate due to potential COVID-19 exposure and to implement safety measures. This week we’re already seeing confirmed contact.

People leadership measures and thinking include testing for the virus, workplaces measures such as a deep clean, workforce planning for employees who have younger kids in the likely event of school shutdowns and the practical, safety, self-organisation and mental health aspects of work from home: employee assistance lines, best practice work from home resources, virtual hangouts and more. 

What CEOs should be doing

If you haven’t already: 

1.       Appoint a COVID-19 team to run this issue outside normal commercial operations

2.       Ensure you’re ready to vacate normal premises

3.       Audit staff’s ability to work from home, and consider what’s needed longer term

4.       Communicate more than you think you need to. Send emails to your own people, at least daily. Even if there’s no new information, let people know that, what you’re working on as a management team, and ask for their feedback and questions.  

5.       Lead. These are frightening times. Be available, be visible. Lead, don’t follow. 

Here's some further useful reading

  • News: The Financial Times
  • Medical expert: Dr Dan Suan (immunologist, Westmead) on social distancing
  • Analysis, including when to close your office: Tomas Puyeo’s article Coronavirus: Why you must act now has had over 40 million views”. The latest update has a calculator that allows you to work out when to close your office. If you haven’t. 

This is an excerpt from one of our client COVID-19 CEO response briefings. For more COVID-19 response resources and guidance, visit our COVID-19 Response page. 

If you’d like to discuss adjusting your communication strategy for the current times, please call us or fill out our contact form here.

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