We’re yet to come across a financial services firm that has been completely prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. Our industry is no stranger to turbulent conditions, but disruption on this scale is unprecedented and it’s no surprise that many firms’ BCP arrangements fall short of ensuring critical business operations can continue as the impact of Coronavirus spreads.  

Having helped many businesses through the financial crisis a decade ago, we know that those that fare the best during times of crisis are those that have a good handle on timely and effective communication.

With the wealth of misinformation around and ambiguous government guidelines, you need to be able to cut through the noise. Getting ahead of any issues and, above all, being clear, consistent and transparent is the only way forward. Your customers and employees will thank you for it later.

So, what do you need to think about for effective communication? Let’s take a look…

Customer communication 

You’re likely to be experiencing increased telephone enquiries, for which you’ll need more resources to meet these demands. With customers being left on hold for long periods of time, or struggling to get through at all, finding new ways of staying connected with your customers is more important than ever. Open dialogue is the key to maintaining effective relationships and to ensuring you can still deliver to your regulatory obligations. Here’s a few things to consider:

  • Are you choosing the right channels at the right times to communicate your messages? Technology is allowing us to be better connected than ever. You might want to pre-empt spikes in call volumes by heading off the frequently asked questions on your website, via email or through SMS.
  • Does your website, automated telephone message or call scripts present an inappropriate up-beat narrative? Now is a good time to review whether your brand voice is appropriate or whether it can be toned down.

Finding new ways of staying connected with your customers is more important than ever.

Employee communication

Internal communication is crucial for the smooth running of your business in these times. Employees need to be kept informed on how to look after their own well-being and what you, as a business, are doing to help.

From a governance and accountability perspective, the Coronavirus presents a big challenge.

  • How are you keeping everyone, including key committees, informed of changes as they arise and the risk this may present to your customers and business strategy?
  • How is the crisis affecting the decision-making within the business and how is this being communicated internally?

The board should be driving and overseeing the communication strategy, to keep it appropriate and effective. Conversely, boards and senior management committees are likely to require more regular updates from business functions. Effective and appropriate MI is the silver bullet here – you’ll need to be able to monitor, communicate, manage and mitigate any changes as quickly as possible.

Finally, a structured internal comms process is good practice, replacing in-person meetings with video or conference calls to keep the communication loop flowing, with continued feedback and action plans.

FCA communication

You’ll need to keep the regulator updated of any significant matters, such as financial issues. Firms, particularly large or critically important ones, should expect increased FCA interest, including additional information requests. So, retaining compliance resources to manage and co-ordinate responses will be important.

Supply chain communication

Keeping in touch regularly with your supply chain is the key to business continuity. You’ll need to know if they will be unable to continue to deliver expected service levels, including those related to customer communications and regulatory requirements. In particular, smaller firms relying on larger firms, service providers and platforms will need ongoing monitoring and should seek to be proactive.

 

The right levels of communication to all stakeholders will not only help you survive, but thrive in these disruptive times. Behind much of this is the need to maintain and direct your resources to where they’re needed most. This may mean reducing your capacity elsewhere.

But there’s no need to let crucial projects fall by the wayside or let business as usual lapse. We can provide resource to fill gaps where business lines have been impacted by sickness and absence. And we’ve skilled SME’s availale to take on important projects, freeing up your resource to be used elsew­­here. Just get in touch.

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