The ninth in the series of PM+M’s ‘Navigating the Now and Next’ online panel events took place on Thursday 29 July, once again digitally hosted by our friends at The Landmark in Burnley.
Facilitated by our own Neil Welsh, questions were posed to the invited panel. This was made up of:
Dharma Kovvuri – Dean of UCLAN Campus, Burnley
Shakira Musarat – Relationship Director, Barclays Corporate
Lee Williams – Managing Director, Moorhouse’s Brewery
Christine Hart – Senior Associate, Brabners Solicitors
Laura Bolton – Financial Adviser, PM+M Wealth Management
Following the opening introduction and welcome, Dharma began by explaining the main challenges experienced by UCLAN during the pandemic, including how laptops and dongles were successfully delivered to students, no matter where they were in the world, and navigating a raft of IT issues. He went on to describe the development of the UCLAN operation in Preston and how this will be used as a template for best practice within Burnley going forward, with the growth plans for the town being significant. He highlighted the importance of this growth being underpinned by collaboration with local businesses and the opportunities offered to businesses as part of UCLAN’s services.
Shakira was next in the spotlight and was able to articulate the breadth of support provided by Barclays to their clients over the last 16 months. This includes a wide range of support tools and webcasts explaining everything from access to government support to cyber crime advice and much more. She talked about the importance of open and honest dialogue between business owners and their bank, introducing the relevance of ‘it’s OK not to be OK’ and that asking for help early provides more options and opportunity for support and better outcomes. This message was endorsed by Andy Platt of Simply Corporate, who explained that asking for business support does not have to mean insolvency.
Lee Williams explained to the audience what it had been like to be a brewer over the last year or so, hinting that drinking fresh cask ale might be potentially better than ‘vintage’ cider that has been sat in a keg for above a year. He described the past, present and future challenges to the industry and the need for pubs, bars and restaurants to do their bit in welcoming back the public in safety and confidence. He described the personal impact of being responsible for a team of people being impacted with uncertainty they had no control over, and how important it was as a business owner to be honest and clear with everyone. Not all news being delivered could be good but it could be delivered with honesty, professionalism and care. His message was itself honest and that both he and the business continue to face significant challenges and whilst some sectors have bounced back and are thriving, others must continue to fight to survive before anything else. Lee mentioned that he has still not written his book on the history of Moorhouse’s and his experience of it.
Penultimate panel guest was Christine, who as an employment lawyer was able to pick up on some of the earlier observations from Shakira and Lee about the access to government support via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the importance of being honest with employees. This was particularly relevant in managing the anxiety of team members in their return to the office or workplace. She also described the challenges in blending hybrid working to employee and employer satisfaction. Culture and values were touched upon and how the office environment can provide the glue that holds this together, but home and flexible working provides such efficiency and flexibility that it is definitely here to stay. The winding down of the CJRS will invariably bring further redundancies and potential business failures which are being masked by the current support, repeating Lee’s message that not everybody is out of the woods yet.
Final guest was our own Laura Bolton who described life as a financial planner throughout the period of COVID. The 30% market falls of last March were a cause for panic for some and one of opportunity for others. She was able to reassure clients that the markets often overreact and that as we sit here over a year later they are now markedly higher than before the crisis. She explained that for those who sat back and hid that their accrued savings (both in business cash and personal cash) could now be put to better use and that with a cash ‘floor and ceiling’ to suit personal circumstances, any cash above the ceiling could be made to work. She pointed out the ‘rule of thirds’ explaining the idea of spending a third, saving a third and investing a third. Going on she dispelled the myth that wealth management requires wealth and that our planning services are available to anyone with the appetite and capacity to plan for a better future. She works with clients who are serious about retirement but also those young accumulators and young professionals who are starting their financial planning journey. She reminded the audience that at not quite 30 she had the advantage of not retiring before her clients – quite useful in a long-term planning relationship.
Neil brought the panel discussion to a close but then opened the floor to the audience, obtaining additional input and comment from Andy Platt (Simply Corporate), Nadeem Memon (Panaz), Tracy Moynihan (Training 2000), Andi Lewis (Mindsight Connect) and Helen Hesketh (Hesketh Jones Construction) before thanking all the panel and Claire Rhodes (The Landmark) for digitally hosting the event.
If anyone would like to be introduced to members of the panel or audience, included in the invite for next month’s event or wish to speak to one of the PM+M team about our services, please get in touch with Neil Welsh via the button below.