Dear clients, colleagues and service providers
This last week has been extraordinary to say the least!
As this COVID-19 crisis develops, there may well be a profound call to care for the needy and the sick, and that may cost us our very lives. But in the meanwhile there is something profoundly important that we can do that will care for our fellow citizens, and that is to drastically minimise risk.
We need to take seriously the guidance from our government, and go beyond. We need a sense of urgency in cutting out as much person to person interaction as possible. We also need to give space to those in production and essential services who are still required to work, so that they can carry out their duties with as little risk as possible. Time is not on our side and we need to act now. Let’s not look back in two weeks time and say “I wish I had done more.”
We need to reflect on how we are caring for our neighbour. By being at the forefront of active risk mitigation strategies, both in word and deed, we show a profound commitment to that care, even if the logic is counter intuitive at first.
As Strategic Business Support, we have made an intentional decision to embrace what is being asked of us. I therefore advise that we have decided to close our physical offices with effect close of business today, 23 March 2020. Aside from the important social reasons for making this move, there are also very practical considerations. This situation is changing rapidly day by day, and there is a very real risk that we have to make incremental decisions each day which become very disruptive to business. Our approach is that we would prefer to adopt now, before we are forced to, and to learn the “muscle memory” while we still have time on our side. We have assessed that our business continuity is absolutely vital to you as clients, particularly to ensure that we are able to address core services such as payrolls and statutory compliance.
The good news is that although our physical offices may be closed, we remain fully open for business. We have spent the last week preparing for remote working and, although the team are still working through some teething issues, we are far enough down the road that we can do this without undue disruption to service. Having said this, I must emphasise that the concept of “normal service” cannot be the same as what we viewed last week. In our vision statement, we state our aim as to be “the preferred business partners to entrepreneurs and owner managed businesses…”. A core understanding of partnership is that we work together in getting through this. This means that we may well have to renegotiate some deadlines. But you have our undertaking that we all will be doing everything that we possibly can to continue providing outstanding service during these challenging times.
In order to assist us all in managing these priorities, we have agreed as a team that work will be prioritised as follows:
- Assisting businesses in navigating these unchartered waters. For some businesses, this may be a requirement to forecast cash flows There are a raft of initiatives underway, including proposed government assistance for SME’s. As this progresses there will be further initiatives. We undertake to keep abreast of these developments and to assist you as best we can. My business partner, Clive Stewart, is busy with a document setting out information on what is known so far, and he will communicate further very shortly.
- Processing and payment of payrolls and other front line payments that affect individual human beings. We feel we have a duty of care to yourselves and your work forces to ensure that people do receive their salaries on the due dates.
- Statutory compliance
- Ongoing monthly accounting services, including processing of records and preparation of management accounts.
- Annual financial statements, preparation for audits, and engagement with auditors. It is in this last area that we are most likely to experience some level of delay, particularly as we need to engage with various audit service providers to work out how we will be engaging.
We also aim to be in regular contact with you. I emphasise that we remain fully available for client meetings, with the only difference being that these will now be conducted electronically rather than face to face. We have selected the Zoom technology platform and I can report that it is excellent. I have already held my first board meeting on the platform and the results were outstanding.
So, although as we stand today this is “business unusual”, within the next few days we will be working under a “new normal”. Our team are motivated, they are totally on board with these plans, and they are fully committed that they will provide the very possibly service that they can.
For your part, I request that you give us as much notice as possible of forthcoming requirements and work with us in planning deadlines and deliverables. If you are experiencing serious concerns over the future of your business, please contact one of us urgently.
Whatever may transpire, we look forward to partnering with you as we establish the new normal.