At the beginning of the virus outbreak, we had no idea how events were going to play out, what the impact was going to be and when we could get back to a normal life. To predict further than even a few weeks into the future was impossible. Five months on, it still is. But that doesn’t mean we’re not moving forward.
What have we learned so far?
By its nature, a pandemic transcends geographical and political boundaries. Covid 19 has proved to be bigger than many of the borders that define our lives and identities. It’s broader than party politics, it supersedes national and international government. The way we see ourselves and each other will be changed forever by the experience.
Time-wise too, it’s pushing back boundaries. It has outpaced our attempts to control it and has already straddled a number of seasons, hot and cold, in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. As for how long it will last, we hope we are nearer the end than the beginning now but that is far from certain. What we do know, as we pass 20 million global cases at the time of writing, is that we will be living with the impact and the aftermath of the virus for some time.
How are we moving forward?
Faced with the enormity of this situation it would be easy to be overwhelmed, but what many of us have done is to look to our own circumstances to find ways to keep moving forward.
We can do this by concentrating on who and what is important to us, the things we can control and the areas where we can make a difference. Have we got the right people and the right plans working together? If so, I believe, progress will follow.
Like everyone else at the beginning of the outbreak, we didn’t know how things were going to pan out but we took a decision from day one to put people first. Our clients, our team members and the wider communities and societies that we’re all a part of. We did this because we believed it was the right thing to do.
How are we measuring progress?
We published our half-year financial results recently and they showed that it is possible to put our clients and our team first and still make a profit. We didn’t furlough any staff and continued to provide a high-quality service to our clients and this delivered a strong business performance for our investors.
Financial results are only one metric of progress, particularly in a global climate where our personal wellbeing is paramount. Our Progeny Positive Index was created to tell the story of the action we’re taking across the business, like how we are supporting our clients through the crisis, the ways we are looking after our team and how we’re staying committed to our environmental targets. What began as a one-off communication has proven so popular we’re working on ways to develop it to tell a broader story of trends and insights as we move ahead.
As well as looking outwards and supporting clients in facing up to these global challenges, it’s an opportunity for businesses and their employees to look inwards to ask how they can do better themselves. We’re implementing a new learning and development framework across the company which will identify areas for growth, help drive performance and enhance leadership. We are also continuing to put junior staff through our Adviser Academy to turn them into the industry-leading advisers of tomorrow.
From a business perspective, we’re always seeking to add value and we are actively exploring further acquisition opportunities, for the right businesses with the right people to join us.
Keeping up with our commitments and pressing ahead with, even accelerating, our strategy has been our business response to these unprecedented circumstances. We believe this is the best way that our people and our plans can make a positive difference.
How will we be judged?
People will judge the actions and behaviour of businesses throughout these times. It’s certainly a way for existing or potential customers to get the measure of a company and to gauge just how committed they are to their principles when they come under pressure.
If we do have a second wave of the virus or the status quo continues for the foreseeable future then customers in all markets will remember not just how they were treated but how companies have conducted themselves in general. And they will carry these opinions forward, exercising their consumer right to select or deselect these brands accordingly in future.
Whatever industry we work in, whatever our business or role, we all want to be able to look back on how we have responded and be satisfied we have acted for the best.
The present and the future – as far as we can discern it – is constantly changing so we are continuously adapting to new developments at local, national and global level. We might see a second wave and an increase in cases or we may see a breakthrough from the clinical trials for a vaccine. At the time of writing, either is possible.
As noted at the beginning of the article, by nature a pandemic transcends so many of the boundaries of everyday life that it will be difficult to know what an end even looks like when it comes. So for our part, we’ll keep doing what we have done so far. Making sure we have the right people and the right plans working in tandem, being guided by what we believe is the right thing to do, and trust that progress will follow.