30 Apr 2020
Week five of the lockdown as I write this and thankfully stories of positive action have become more important to us than much of the news coverage. These are the ones we seek out first every morning. As we try and move forward and see the difficult decisions that have to be made by a government facing a crisis which no one has seen in living memory, I prefer to look at the extraordinary efforts being made not only individually (thank you Captain Tom!) but also by government in helping individuals and businesses with unprecedented amounts of financial support.
A lifeline for businesses is crucial at times like this, and I am delighted that here at FIBA, in partnership with The SimplyBiz Group, we have been able to offer a comprehensive assistance package that will help equip our members with tools that will help during these difficult times.
We are all having to learn to adapt. As much as we have had to adjust to the confines caused by the lockdown, our businesses and the way we run them have either got to be packed away until everything normalises or we must look at ways to maintain a presence so we are well positioned for the upturn when it comes.
While I am a great believer in maintaining independence as an adviser, there are times when being part of a bigger organisation makes a lot of sense. This is one of them. Being part of a trade body like FIBA, particularly one that is not just a political talking shop, provides so many extra benefits that non-members cannot access without losing any independence. Leaving aside the curated lender panel, compliance support, PI block policy and representation at the highest level to government and regulators, FIBA, as part of SimplyBiz Group, is able to provide additional support to members via a package of measures designed to help in four key areas including cash flow management, client communication, financial support signposting for clients and mental wellbeing.
As we emerge into a different landscape, the relationship between customer, broker and lender will change and we all need to adjust to a new way of working and more importantly, continue to write business through changing and challenging times. In order to do that, we need to call on all the help we can get and being a trade body member will give you access to help when you need it most.
For many like myself who were brought up in a pre-digital age and were comfortable with paper application forms and a reliance on Royal Mail and the fax machine – (does anybody still have a fax machine in the office?), technology and its adoption in our businesses was something we would get round to, but old habits die hard. Yet, in my own business over the last 10 years, I have become evangelical about moving my business online. Business clients simply expect it and everyone has now been opened up to the advantages of running their businesses more efficiently.
More and more of our lender partners, particularly the newer ones, are set up to work online. So, it is not just a luxury, it is becoming a necessity for advisers to accept the need to change by updating and upskilling to take advantage. Some lenders have had to make a huge effort to move their businesses online so that employees can work remotely. This is a good moment to reconsider how your clients would be better suited in the future as more lenders accept a fully online process is the way forward with the added benefit that their teams are able to work just as easily from a home address as they are in an office.
There are no easy routes out of this current crisis but no matter what our political affiliation, most of us would agree that the choices facing the government over how and when to lift the lockdown are fraught with consequences that we cannot measure. While lockdown is proving to be successful in helping the NHS to build its resources and cope with the current influx of COVID sufferers, it has to be weighed against the damage to the economy if it goes on too long. All of us want to get back to work as soon as possible but at what cost in respect of lives lost? The ultimate Catch 22.