What a change.
6 weeks ago I was out with my 3 old scouting mates doing our annual 4 day run of mountain bike trails - this time we biked the Waikato trails - really good, challenging and much more interesting that I first expected.
The first day was easy - biking beside the gentle flow of the Waikato river - life was good. Until day two - much different terrain - hilly, demanding, unusual, needed the team to stay focused, needed to watch out for each other. What a contrast.
And now 6 weeks later here we are..... it's lockdown.
Most people are prohibited from usual activities. Most businesses have ground to some kind of halt or a radically changed level of activity. A bit like day two....it's hilly, demanding, unusual, we need to stay focused, and watch out for each other.
What do I as an accountant make of all this?
I am heavily influenced by the interactions I have had with my clients. Many like me were initially stunned by the turn of events and wondered what this would mean.
As time has gone on good practical help has become available:
There has been lots of help out there from various industry groups, individuals and Government. I have been particularly impressed by a group that I am a member of - the Franchise Association of New Zealand. This represents 37,000 individual franchised business in New Zealand and accounts for $27.6 billion of turnover (11% of GDP). The Association has run a series of webinars for members focusing on what local franchisors are doing to help their franchisees, with experts in law, accounting and banking giving good advice. Good down to earth advice from people wanting to help people. Love this.
As accountants we are part of a group of 400+ other accountants based in NZ, Australia and the UK. This group is known as GAP. Good solid advice and help coming from this group too as we seek to help our clients get to grips with that they can do to make the most of this time and beyond. Through this group we were able to circulate our Business Continuity Plan resource and a number of our clients have used this to help them plan out their futures.
Cash Flow - this is the key to staying in business. We have been assisting clients with simple forecasts for the bank - predicting what their bank balances will be for the next 12-36 months. This Service is registered with the Management Capability Development Voucher Fund.
There are still lots of unknowns out there but lots of help available. Its Kiwis helping Kiwis.
Biking? - as I reflect on the above, life was relatively smooth and easy up to COVID-19, like the "gentle flow of the Waikato river" ..... and now it's hilly, tough, and we need each other.
So, I'm looking forward to my annual bike trip next year and looking back and thinking, yes we all did the best we could together and while there are still big challenges ahead.... for the most part we as a country are succeeding!