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COVID-19: the impact on London members

COVID-19 now dominates our lives. Vicky Andrew, Vice-President of the South East London Area Society explores the effects of the pandemic on our personal lives, in running our practices and businesses and in planning events and other activities for local members.

"Victoria
Vicky Andrew

May 2020

Some of our biggest challenges on the domestic front have included:

  • looking after our own physical and mental wellbeing,
  • combining work with family responsibilities, including looking after children, the elderly and those with complex health needs, sometimes at a distance,
  • shopping for the necessities of life,
  • dealing with changes to our household income,
  • adapting to new ways of socialising.

For personal support, you can visit CABA’s Coronavirus Hub.

Those of us running practices or other forms of business have had to:

  • get used to working from home if we weren’t already doing so,
  • interact with colleagues and clients via phone, email or video-conference rather than face-to-face; never leaving the house for meetings (which used to break up the day),
  • cope with stress resulting from: less than optimum wi-fi and phone service; work in general taking longer because we cannot use tried & tested methodology; neighbourhood disturbances from construction, large vehicles, music and pets,
  • worry about liquidity and going concern issues; this is less of an issue for those businesses with a cushion of reserves, although if some form of lockdown continues for several more months, such businesses may need to realise investments which will probably be done at a loss.  

For further information and resources, visit ICAEW’s Coronavirus Hub.

A few weeks ago, those of us involved in arranging District or Area Society activities felt that we were making it up as we were going along. We were not sure whether we should be cancelling or deferring planned events, or carrying on as usual. Once the Government announced the lockdown, things became much clearer and at least we now know what we are dealing with.

Since then, many Societies have been able to pivot, focussing on webinars instead of face-to-face courses, and doing meetings by video-conference and dial-in. However, it will be good to get back to doing things “in real life.” Although it is likely that some activities will continue in a virtual world, which will reduce travel time and expenditure, and is in line with the ICAEW’s climate change objectives, there will always be a place for meeting face-to-face networking which helps to nurture useful business relationships.

There are positive aspects to come out of the current crisis:

  • At District and Area Society level, there is potential to increase member engagement through online activity. In London, this journal, the ICAEW London LinkedIn group, and our CPD webinars are all areas through which our members can get involved.
  • For those looking to invest in businesses, able to choose wisely, and prepared to wait for recovery, there could be good results in the future.
  • Many firms of Chartered Accountants have risen to the challenge of giving their clients a chance to survive this crisis and recover in the future.
  • ICAEW has been able to influence Government decision-making and policy, and has led to improvements the design and implementation of various support schemes.

How have you been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, in your business or personal life? If you would like to share your experiences, please fill out this short survey or get in touch with us on the ICAEW London LinkedIn group.  

Vicky Andrew is an ICAEW Chartered Accountant and Director of Millcove Solutions Ltd, a consultancy providing advice to micro-businesses and accountancy firms throughout the UK. Vicky has worked with micro-businesses for more than 30 years, specialising in firms with turnover of up to £1million. Vicky is a member of ICAEW Council and Deputy President of the London Society of Chartered Accountants. She has written this article in her capacity as Vice-Chair of SELAS, and would like to thank two of her colleagues on SELAS Committee for their input into this article.

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