Last week we hosted our inaugural CEO Forum, focused on Covid-19, which was attended by 15 cross-sector CEOs who enjoyed a strikingly open discussion under Chatham House rules. It is clear that participants gained significant value from the session and as a result we have decided to repeat the Forum weekly.
Key Points Discussed
Experience With Existing Banking Lenders:
- There was significant criticism on the personal guarantees being imposed by certain banks on emergency loans and even for certain applications for further bank funding for SMEs.
- Alternative sources of finance were discussed, with fintech, and challenger banks perhaps offering more innovative and agile solutions.
- Several CEOs had experienced their banks treating the loan as a normal bank loan and it was felt that banks who act like this will increasingly find themselves under government, Bank of England and PR pressure. It was suggested that banks should consider that this is the first economic crisis to take place in the full glare of social media.
Business Impact – Supply & Demand, People, Process & Finances:
- An empathetic mindset and collaborative solutions to supply chain were discussed.
- Focus on staff engagement and regular and transparent communication from leaders is crucial, and ideas and technologies were shared on how to achieve this.
- Historical focus on strong culture, values and purpose is paying dividends in the current situation.
- These communications are concise, considerate and provide affirmation of the purpose and conscious of the business as well as the importance of hard work and working together through this tougher time.
- In amongst all of the corporate and logistical challenges, it is important to continue to champion the wellbeing and mental health of staff at this time, with many new professional and personal challenges being faced by our employees at this time. And innovative cultural and staff engagement methods were shared including virtual team exercise, promoting virtual coffee breaks and more innovative home and childcare support solutions.
Response To Government Policy – job retention scheme, access to finance including government loan scheme:
- For many there has been a requirement to “sell” the job retention scheme to employees. Feedback was that this had been much better received when explaining its impact for individuals and the company as transparently and plainly as possible.
- A range of ‘fair’ cost-cutting solutions were discussed including the Furlough Scheme. These included wider salary reductions so not only to affect those on furlough from some businesses, whilst others sought to top up the furloughed reductions to 90-100% of earnings.
- The job retention scheme would appear to be significantly more generous to employees than similar schemes on offer in other countries, and with fewer restrictions of access for employers.
Future Positive Outcomes:
- Maintaining resilience & resourcefulness
- Better & more efficient internal communication
- Streamlining of costs
- Significant impact environmentally, with less travel due to increased use of communication technologies
- Increasing innovation and a move towards progression over perfection
For a more detailed summary of the points discussed at the forum please download: CEO Forum Overview