Insights & News

Coronavirus update: BCMS

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Keeping clients, community and colleagues together

So here we are – feels like week one of the new world. I’d love to say everything is “business as usual” but that would just be spin. We’re all living through a temporary nightmare, where all the rules have suddenly changed. 

What are we doing as a business? Well, BCMS has – in line with advice – transferred almost completely to a ‘Working From Home’ company, with just a skeleton staff in our UK offices. Over the past few years, we invested heavily in new technology and infrastructure, and our in-house IT team have done a truly brilliant job of setting all colleagues up with new ways of secure online communication and collaboration, including video-conferencing.

We can still work, and we’re still incredibly busy. In that sense, we’re in a good place. 

We’re humans. Let’s talk!

While tech is great, we passionately believe that the best way to keep in touch with our business owner clients is to speak, rather than just email. Our Deal Teams are calling their clients regularly – here the key skill is listening, making sure we understand client concerns and pressure points. It can be lonely at the top, and many business owner-managers have no-one to bounce ideas off. We’re trying to be a friend, as well an advisor.

As you would expect, many of our clients are in survival mode. We have a range of in-house skills to help with some of the critical elements of business continuity – from modelling for cashflow and analysing working capital, to softer skills like people management and coaching. In short, we’ll be helping clients new and old plan a roadmap for their business in these unprecedented times.

Messages from the market

Are sellers still selling? Are buyers still buying? Well, it’s a mixed bag. Some transactions will complete as expected – those are the ones in the latter stages, with significant momentum. For those in earlier stages of the deal process, we’re using this time to prepare, and help our clients to be robust and ready for sale later down the line. We’re talking to buyers every day and their message is clear: we’re still interested, but we’ll take more time given everything that’s going on. Our overriding sense is that this is a temporary delay, rather than a permanent change of strategy.

There is good news out there, and it’s firstly coming from China, where output is reportedly returning to normal. That gives us a window of hope, and confirmation that the current chaos is temporary. I was talking to a business owner just yesterday, in the toy industry. After lockdown just a few weeks back, his Chinese supply chain is back to 100%. We’re hearing similar positives from clients in high-demand industries, such as logistics, distribution and online retail, outdoor and leisure equipment – the forecasts for some of these companies have rocketed.

Sit tight – the survival mindset

As for the wider business picture: global stock markets are notoriously volatile and react incredibly quickly to geopolitical events. I trust they will be as sensitive to good news as they have been to bad, when things do pick up.

My advice to clients and colleagues is the same. First up, let’s focus on finding a way through this rather than surviving this. And let’s use the time productively, for forensic preparation, and intelligent, incremental improvements to how we all work. Now more than ever, preparation is key – so we are all in the very best position when things return to something like normal.

But none of this is as important as your health, and your family’s health. Just stay safe, everyone.

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Jonathan Dunn's picture
Posted Mar 2020
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