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HOW COVID -19 AFFECTED BUSINESSES: THE ROLE OF A TRUSTED ADVISER


In his interaction with Young Investors of Nigeria Engr. Ikechukwu Nnamani an entrepreneur with business interest worldwide in telecommunications, media, healthcare and financial technology service highlighted industries, where top job opportunities will be available in the post-Covid-19 era.


According to him, Covid-19 has impacted the value of jobs, leading to job losses and is also accelerating a shift in the workforce to what he described as digital workforce.

To quote him verbatim “There will be immediate and temporary opportunities in the Post Covid-19 era, but those who are looking for long term and permanent opportunities should begin to develop skills that will aid them to work in the Information and Communications Technology sector, especially in areas like cybersecurity, programmers and developers, telecom operators and data analysts” Further he said other long term and permanent opportunities, are in electronic commerce and financial technology; online study, short term training and specialization; food production and mechanized farming.


The way the pandemic struck and shook the world appears to have brought to fore the benefit of specialization and niching, it tends to question the rationale or benefits of specialization because some industries were differently affected. In fact some were wipe out while others reap heavily and saw their fortune double over night. While my faith in specialization and niche services remain unshaken, I would advocate this be done in consonance with talents stack, that is, acquiring skills in multiple areas or at least in more than one field. This will give some opportunities for quick maneuvering in case of eventualities.


Prominently, the covid – 19 virus affected in the ways discussed hereunder:


Business closures: Despite the various efforts of government and determination of some entrepreneurs’, many of them find it difficult to restart their business successfully. They have been forced to close down permanently and seek employment of think of other business to engage in. For these groups Covid 19 was really devastating.

Remodeling or New ways of doing business: The Covid -19 brought its benefits by forcing business owners to interrogate their business models. Many have found out that there are other ways that services can be rendered to customers with utmost satisfaction. For examples, most dine in only restaurants have appreciated the need for drive through and take away. More people have embraced technology and conduct some virtual services.


Policy adjustments: The various government approaches have necessitated a review of current company policies. Hotels are reviewing their room capacity, retail outlet are introducing social distancing, self-service and in some cases cashless policies. Dining places and patios are requiring mandatory use of mask and increasing the spaces between tables. There is now a new normal, marketing, planning and budgeting strategies have changed.


Income Loss: One of the greatest effect before gradual recovery was the loss of revenue as a result of panic closure of businesses. Government was caught unaware and there was mass closure that affected every business initially until ways and means were devised to keep some business open and provide essential services.


Employees’ loss: The first casualty of the pandemic was job losses. Following the mandatory closure of businesses, because of the ravaging Covid -19, employees were quickly laid off. Government had to come to the rescue with several initiatives. This was particularly effective in the developed world. Some third world country were caught unaware and had little or nothing to offer. It caused major social and economic dislocations and added to the woes in the countries. Crime rate went up, there was agitation and civil disturbances everywhere. A few business kept their staff on charity ground while other cut the employees commitments to about 70% and below.


Trusted advisers have their hands full in in the services that would help their clients to full recovery.


While this epidemic took every body by surprise initially, as recovery began, trusted advisers have find out that their clients need them now more than ever. There are very many things trusted advisers can do for their clients and some of them are chronicled below


Support your client’s recovery efforts: We have represented ourselves as joint stakeholders in our client’s business. This is an opportunity we have demonstrate our support to their recovery efforts. For some clients, recovery might be fast while it takes almost a year if not longer for others. We must show how we care and are ready to make some sacrifice even in monetary terms. Even for those that closed shops out rightly we can continue to monitor and make suggestions whenever opportunity arises so that they can get back to business. Where possible some services can be provided on compassionate ground.


Giving back to your community: At no time is volunteering much more impactful than now. When all are at pain, leaders are needed to reduce the societal pains. Even at your discomfort you can spare some time and money at things that will ensure that your clients and potential clients get back to their feet and start going again. This needs no more emphasis because the catastrophic nature of this pandemic makes any volunteering action very much appreciated.


Provide advisory services: Competent advisers who can guide business owners through the process of recovery process are desired at this time. Spare no time and efforts in getting sound business and operating ideas into your clients. Whether it is managing cash flows, Budgeting, forecasting, working capital management and process flows, business owners look up to their advisers to provide leadership. Whatever is done now will go a long way in building that trust with your client and help them through the process of recovery quicker.


Enlighten your clients about Government assistance programs: Clients need to know what government and other help agencies are offering now. They also need to know what they qualify for and what are the processes and requirement to get this benefit. This is the time for adviser to meet and find out what client’s needs. You do not need to wait for the clients to determine what they want. You can be proactive and tell them what they should be doing and what they are qualified for and how they can begin the process.


Offer online tax filing assistance: We know this is the time of the year when taxes for the last tax year should be put together, although government have given extension because of the effect of the Pandemic. Nevertheless, we recommend for those expecting refunds, to put their records together and file their returns as appropriate to avoid delaying their refunds. Ask clients to submit their records virtually or drop them off without physical contact at the office. Also, advise those who are investment savvy to take time to look out for opportunities to grow their portfolio. I believe such opportunities exist.


Update clients about new regulatory pronouncement and changes in filing deadlines: Covid – 19 has caused the government to conjure regulations and new regulations are coming up one after another based on government assessment of the situation. We can be of assistant to our clients by informing them about the new requirements and guide them to meet the deadlines

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