It’s hard to recall a time before social distancing, face masks, zoom calls and working from home. Who could have predicted this would become the ‘new normal’ when Airmic took place last year? Businesses have had to learn and modify. Even this online festival is a perfect example of how the industry is adapting to accelerated change and how a virtual world is now the everyday.
Whatever life events affect our businesses it is those who show grit, flexibility and forward thinking who survive and thrive. Building a resilient business which remains strong and stable during these unprecedented times is key to future prosperity.
We’re facing into possibly the most challenging times
As many commentators state, history has a tendency to repeat itself. The 1918 influenza pandemic may be the last disease comparable to COVID-19 but the resilience of the population, its businesses and the help of financial enablers such as insurance cover played a key role in rebuilding society, and will continue to do so today.
The UK economy is expected to shrink by 11.5% by the end of 2020 according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and by as much as 14% if a second wave of infection takes hold and further government restrictions are put in place. The Bank of England is also predicting the worst recession in 100 years.
Statistics and daily news stories tell us that all businesses are facing a challenging operating environment - it’s part of the new norm. So what is the solution?
Resilience has proven to be vital throughout history – and continues to do so in future
What is clear is the need for all businesses to keep thinking ahead of the curve, constantly considering a number of different scenarios and adapting strategies quickly, when required.
Businesses need to build and maintain a position of resilience in these challenging times like never before. Through our conversations with companies, large and small, in the UK and internationally, the following points come top of the list for many when planning for good risk management and profitable growth in these uncertain times. We’d like to share them with you here. Not all are new, ground breaking recommendations but they may be a useful addition to your ‘business resilience’ check list:
- Putting customers first. The phrase ‘the customer is king’ is an attitude adopted by all successful companies no more so than in these turbulent times - it’s the promise of first class customer service. The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI – July 2020) suggests that, on average, customer satisfaction across the UK economy has remained flat over the last year. 77.0 (out of 100), 0.1 points lower than a year ago and 1.2 points below the highpoint recorded in July 2017. This said, we’ve all been shaken, and changed by the COVID-19 crisis and its impact and consequences will dominate the customer experience for many years to come. Resilient companies will keep acutely focused on customer satisfaction and will adjust their business models to accommodate changing customer needs.
- Tough choices. Difficult decisions are being made by business leaders to enable future growth – from supply chains to distribution, insurance protection to tech. The emotive subject of ‘people’ will be one of the hardest areas to address as will real estate and whether revised thinking is needed in these areas
- Adaptability. Surviving businesses will be the ones that rapidly adapt to their markets as they use new skills, processes and models to adapt and prosper in new market conditions
- Innovation and diversification. One of the positives that has come out of the pandemic is the way businesses have changed output to meet new demand. Engineers from Mercedes, Dyson and others produced breathing ventilators to help COVID-19 patients when demand outstripped supply at the height of the pandemic. Fashion firms from SMEs to large corporates like GAP mobilised their production facilities and supply chains to help address the global shortage of hospital gowns and other PPE. This type of ingenuity not only filled an economic hole for some but satisfied a moral duty too
- Digital acceleration and collaboration. Those providing a smooth, digital, customer journey have not only survived but in many cases seen double digit growth during the pandemic. Online retail is, of course, one standout example
- Government support and new regulation. Help from the government in these unprecedented economic times is available through a wide range of financial packages – are you tapping into everything you are entitled to? The support offered has not only kept businesses afloat but provided an invaluable lifeline going forward. New regulations are also being introduced on a regular basis to protect customers and businesses – planning for early adoption is vital.
One observation however, is that all points made will impact on your insurance needs.
Businesses will invariably demand wider, and in some cases more diverse insurance covers as situations change going forward. Every business and every sector is different and has a range of insurance requirements. One size doesn’t fit all and it’s important to have a team of specialist insurance experts who will work with you to assess your business’ situation and who, after listening to your requirements, can develop an up to date, flexible and bespoke insurance plan to fill your needs.
Budgets are also being squeezed. Expert risk engineers can provide guidance on best practice controls and develop an effective risk management solution. A first class, transparent claims service providing minimal disruption to business operations is needed to pay claims in a timely, efficient manner. Businesses can then return to being fully operational with minimal disruption.
RSA’s Risk Management in practice
We know business resilience is the ability to rapidly adapt and respond to disruptions, the safeguarding of people and assets, while maintaining continuous business operations.
Through our risk management proposition we help focus on preserving the processes and procedures that help businesses survive unexpected threats. Our breadth of experience and expertise recognises that businesses operate in an environment of continuous change – with a multitude of sectors requiring different, sometimes bespoke requirements, RSA is very well equipped to focus on how to best preserve value in these complex environments. For brokers and customers we do this by:
- Delivering expert knowledge that takes your business further - Our expert consultants provide risk evaluation and sophisticated in-depth analysis of the risks your sector faces, how these may apply to your business, and how these could evolve over time. We work closely with you to understand the specifics of your company; its needs and future plans and tailor their approach accordingly
- Developing partnerships that make a difference - We look to establish a long-term, beneficial relationship with your business and work with you to manage risk in a cost-effective and flexible manner. We’ll tell you what is working well already and help identify any risks you may not be aware of.
- Implementing solutions that are grounded in reality - Our agile approach allows us to work to customers own and relevant industry standards making easily digestible, practical recommendations that take into account the current situation, future plans, risk management culture and budget. We’ll then work together to support implementation.
Navigating uncertainty with RSA on your side
However large or complex a business, new thinking and ways of operating are needed to protect companies and those they serve in the uncertain times that lie ahead. Introducing and maintaining an effective insurance programme will be instrumental in creating ongoing resilience and future proofing economic prosperity in these times of accelerated change.
These are no doubt, challenging times but the future is bright. If you have arranged to meet one of the RSA team virtually during Airmic Fest we look forward to discussing your insurance needs. Alternatively please contact the team on the virtual festival floor via our interactive exhibition stand where we are showcasing our latest insurance solutions and risk management expertise.