South African businesses need to prepare and brace themselves for a highly challenging period ahead as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts day-to-day life and commerce.
“There is now a pressing need for effective risk mitigation and business continuity measures, and these must include partner firms, suppliers and other stakeholders,” Craig Polkinghorne, Head of Commercial Banking at Standard Bank Group.
Planning crucial in cross-border trade
In numerous industries, supply chains and cash flows are being severely disrupted, particularly for those businesses involved in cross-border trade.
With this in mind, organisations should consider the early loading and planning of payments, as well as intensive cash-flow management and liquidity planning. Those businesses that have lending facilities in place should assess whether these have capacity to cope with changed or disrupted cash flows.
In addition, businesses involved in cross-border trade can consider measures that reduce the impact on cash flows. Letters of credit, for instance, have a lesser impact on cash flows than upfront deposits. And the disruption of physical trade flows might require an alignment of the associated cash flows.
With our complete range of trade finance instruments and products, we can assist you with liquidity planning.
Comprehensive policies and protocols essential
The health and safety of employees, clients and other stakeholders needs to be top of mind. Companies should consider separating teams and allowing employees to work remotely, where possible, although the persistence of load-shedding does complicate remote work.
As more employees work from home, connectivity will be key. To enable this, teams could be provided with larger data bundles and afforded remote and secure access to internal systems. Stay connected by accessing prepaid airtime and via Standard Bank online banking.
“We are encouraging clients to make use of digital channels when transacting and engaging with the bank, where possible,” adds Polkinghorne.
Naturally, hygiene within the workplace and externally is of paramount importance – access to hand sanitisers, for instance, could prevent the spread of the virus.
Reach out in financial distress
We do acknowledge that our business customers are facing challenges in dealing with the disruption to their businesses. We also understand that in any business or personal financial cycle there can be difficulties in meeting financial obligations. This may be heightened especially in times of economic downturns and crisis.
Customers who are in financial distress should contact the bank as soon as possible. The sooner the bank is informed, the sooner both parties can find a workable solution to address or resolve issues of financial distress. It is not in Standard Bank’s interest to see a business fail, or a home lost. It is in both parties’ interest to find a workable solution.
“We do urge customers to contact the bank should they experience difficulties. We have no doubt that the impact of the Corona-19 virus has been extremely disruptive,” says Polkinghorne.
If you are facing any challenges with regards your finances, please don’t hesitate to contact our call centre as soon as possible for assistance. The number is 0860 123 000.
Our bankers, relationship managers are in contact with our customers and are there to provide all the support necessary. Our customers all have individual needs and requirements and we will provide all the assistance necessary on a case by case basis.
“By planning ahead, working together and remaining vigilant, we can limit the strain on South Africa’s businesses in the weeks and months ahead,” Polkinghorne concludes.