MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (July 29, 2023)

Great day to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Mark Warner, Elmer Kim, and Natalie Kalata, talking the status of Canada’s immigration boom, big grocery profits, and Twitter becoming X; you can watch our segment here.  A few thoughts on our discussion.

It’s been noted on the Business Panel numerous times that almost every type of company seems to be hiring these days.  Common themes as to why this is the case include demographics (i.e., older workers retiring), fewer students taking on part-time or Summer jobs, and the employment shift that became evident during COVID19, as people moved away from traditional front line roles.  A lack of staff impacts a company’s capacity and ability to generate revenues, which makes immigration to fill employment roles of increasing importance for Canada.  The challenge is that doing this successfully requires far more than just “the job”, as new Canadians and their families require a host of essentials, including housing, healthcare, and social resources; Canada also needs sufficient infrastructure to support an increasing population.

Meeting this challenge requires ongoing, skilled management and oversight, as much of this is implementation.  Ideas and policies can come relatively easily, however, the “getting it done” is often much more difficult, as practical realities can uncover unexpected problems, such as a lack of materials and labour to build necessary housing.  Successful results require a balance, to ensure that new Canadians are not only accessing jobs that need to be filled, but are also finding all other aspects that are integral to establishing a life for themselves and their families.

The lack of grocery competition in Canada was a topic on the Business Panel just a few weeks ago, and the news of significant grocery profits at Loblaws reinforces some of that discussion.  Although the reported 31% increase in profits includes “a one-time charge of $111 million related to a PC Bank commodity tax matter” (which would typically be factored out of comparison to other periods, from an accounting perspective), performance levels are significant, nonetheless.  An increase in shopping traffic at discount retail chains was also reported, continuing the trend of Canadians seeking lower price options.  This story is not only a reminder of the importance of traditional good shopping tactics, such as making a list and comparing prices, but also the opportunity for Canada to improve competition at both producer and retailer levels (not a quick fix, by any means).

And, finally, as Twitter’s new owner announces a decision to re-brand the platform as X, most notable is the disposal of significant brand recognition and value, including common use of the word “tweet” in reference to a short message.  This is the type of brand recognition that most can only dream of, such as common use of the word “Kleenex” to refer to a tissue.  Couple this with the cute, easily recognizable and approachable bird logo, in comparison to a new X logo that comes across as dark, ominous, and suspect, at best.  Twitter was once a useful platform for quality and timely information, and although its usefulness declined prior to sale, it has become even more dismal since then.  Time will tell if this latest “strategy” will amount to anything more than a tax write-off in the not too distant future.

Thanks for watching, and enjoy the rest of the Summer!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (July, 2023)

Extremely busy news week on the Canada Day edition of the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Mark Warner, Elmer Kim, and Hillary Johnstone, talking the lack of grocery competition in Canada, cyber attacks, and the latest economic numbers; you can watch our segment here.

Some thoughts on our discussion.  Canadians might think they have a range of grocery shopping alternatives, but a closer look indicates that most familiar brands are owned by a few large players (think Loblaw, Sobeys, and Metro).  The latest Competition Bureau report addresses this situation, with a number of important considerations for improvement, as well as some thoughts on the challenges of increasing the number of players.  Shining a light on the lack of competition comes at a time when Canadians may well be feeling sour on this topic, with reports of record profits and executives seeking compensation package increases.  In addition, consumers are undoubtedly already experiencing budgetary challenges, as inflation and interest rates have risen over the past year.  Although mandatory unit prices and better transparency at the consumer level can be helpful, the challenges of attracting foreign players are of note; these may include addressing bilingual and metric packaging requirements, as well as identifying the right business model.  Numerous retailers from other countries have found out the hard way that the Canadian marketplace has specific requirements (Target and Nordstrom come to mind) and it can also be difficult for smaller players to make an impact.  What happens next in this respect is anyone’s guess; a closer eye from regulators/consumer protection agencies could be an opportunity for a meaningful step, especially when it comes to addressing any bad behavior.

Many established companies and organizations have been impacted by cyber attacks, with Indigo and Petro Canada being a couple of the latest.  Businesses of all sizes need to consider the impact of this unpredictable and damaging situation, as the ramifications can be significant, including lengthy downtimes and expensive resolution paths.  Business leaders should be asking themselves a number of questions in terms of their company’s level of preparedness, including:

  • Has the company engaged a qualified information technology advisor to address this issue?
  • Is a comprehensive security plan in place?
  • Are staff members sufficiently trained?
  • Has the company explored and obtained cyber event/business continuity insurance coverage?
  • Does the company’s leadership understand what is covered by insurance and what the risks are?
  • Is the company’s security plan reviewed on a regular basis?
  • What business continuity plans are in place, in the event of a cyber attack, including in terms of customer communications?

The reality is that many companies are not well prepared in this regard, be it due to a lack of understanding of this complex issue or qualified advice, as well as the fast pace at which risks emerge.

In terms of recent economic news, modest growth over the past couple of months has Canada moving in the right direction.  As indicated on previous Business Panels, progress will not happen in a straight line, but points in time should be taken as information, paying close attention to any trends that may become apparent.  In my view, this is a good time for the Bank of Canada to pause on interest rate increases, so as to not “oversteer” on the road to recovery.  Business leaders continue to deal with many front line challenges, and a balanced approach is better than upheaval (even when unintended).

A Happy Canada Day to all of our viewers, and thank you for watching!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (June, 2023)

Another busy week on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Mark Warner, Michael Hyatt, and Natalie Kalata, talking concerns about artificial intelligence, Air Canada pilots taking early steps to negotiate their next labour agreement, and BMO’s acquisition of Air Miles.  You can watch our segment here.  Some thoughts on our discussion.

Various science, academic, and technology leaders issued a warning about artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential to harm humankind with the following statement: “mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war”.  This has resulted in discussion about how AI could harm the public (such as through disinformation and privacy issues) and has raised questions about what should be done.  In general terms, it stands to reason that since parties/companies that develop and commercialize products (including technologies) tend to benefit financially (sometimes, quite significantly), they should also play a role in addressing any negative impacts.  This is analogous to issues such as pollution and the downside of social media, for example, something that has been unaddressed for too long.  It is not sufficient to engage solely in “finger pointing”, typically at government, for an ineffective regulatory environment (or none at all); rather, industry has a key role to play in identifying, assessing, managing, and mitigating risks, given that they have the expertise to do so.  Further, no one benefits from an industry that causes significant harm and there is a responsibility to ensure that this doesn’t occur.

As Air Canada’s pilots opt to pull out of the existing labour agreement early to commence the bargaining process (perhaps, in the Summer of 2023, with the current contract set to expire this September), travelers are likely on edge, particularly given the fallout from the recent near-strike at Westjet.  The unfortunate truth is that Canadian travelers are in a less than ideal position, given the very limited airline options in this country.  Speaking as one of the many travelers impacted by the Westjet strike, despite being told that the flight would not be cancelled due to the labour dispute (false), there is no sufficient compensation when life events are missed, often accompanied by significant frustration and disappointment.  Reviewing the communications by the company, the lack of customer focus is obvious, with commentary priorities being primarily Westjet and its pilots.  At its core, these situations are internal human resource matters, and in a typical competitive marketplace, companies don’t survive for long if customers are not their top priority.  Customers simply want to receive what they purchased, with reasonable quality and in a reliable manner; this is not too much to ask.

BMO Financial Group announced its acquisition of the defunct Air Miles rewards program, indicating that improvements are on the way.  Given the many rewards program options available to consumers, it is likely that people select the ones that best meet their needs and bypass the rest, setting the stage for an uphill battle to reinvent Air Miles.  There is also a need to attract more vendors to participate, and companies are only likely to do so if they see a meaningful opportunity to increase business.  Will have to wait and see what BMO has in store and whether or not consumers and vendors will engage.

And, finally, it was my pleasure to join the Biz Panel from beautiful Nova Scotia once again, albeit in the face of difficult times for many, given the devastating forest fires.  Being in proximity to two forest fires has certainly been concerning, and I have been thinking about those who have been impacted over the past week.  Sincere thanks to all those who have been working so hard to keep our communities safe.

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (May, 2023)

Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Rubina Ahmed-Haq, Elmer Kim, and Natalie Kalata, talking pushing back the CEBA repayment deadline, new ownership possibilities for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, and the WNBA’s first game in Canada.  You can watch our segment here.  Some thoughts on our discussion.

Small businesses continue to be challenged by a number of factors, including high inflation and interest rates, a tight labour market, supply chain delays, and consumer factors.  It is no surprise that the recent CFIB survey indicates that 49% of small businesses are still below normal revenues and the majority are in favour of CEBA repayment rules being extended.  The result of the ongoing challenges facing small businesses is that cash is increasingly precious; this is felt on both the sales and investment side, as supply chain and labour factors slow a company’s ability to meet customer needs, and capital is impacted by rising interest rates.  As business failures continue to increase, serious consideration should be given to what the impact would be if more companies were unable to continue, in terms of factors such as employment, economic contribution, and tax revenue.

The NHL’s Ottawa Senators have been up for sale for some time, and there has been lots of discussion about who might take the team forward.  At a price tag approaching $1 billion, the involvement of “celebrities” might create some initial interest; however, the bottom line is that a sports team is a business.  Sports franchises have become increasingly complex, a long way from the old days of selling tickets and hotdogs.  Instead, there are a range of revenue lines to manage, including events, gear, licensing, broadcasting, partnerships, and the recent addition of mainstream sports gambling; these are issues at both a league and franchise level.  For these reasons, it is more important to engage with an ownership group that brings the necessary skills and experience to lead the business for the long term, including recognizing the importance of putting in place a senior management team that can fulfill this difficult mandate.  Further, owners should recognize that, although a franchise can certainly be successful, there is an important investment role that they will have to fulfill, especially when the team isn’t performing particularly well in the standings.

And, finally, it’s good to see women’s sports finally starting to get a higher profile.  The sellout of this first WNBA game in Canada, however, does not mean that expansion here would be a certain success; rather, this type of initiative should be considered strategically.  It is critcal that the necessary feasibility and business planning work be done to get a better sense of whether or not a franchise could be supported in Canada; these should also be treated as long term decisions.  When sports franchises fail, it hurts both the league and local area, which is why the strategic nature of expansion is so important.

Thank you for watching, and see you again soon, CBC!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (April, 2023)

Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Mark Warner, Rubina Ahmed-Haq, and Hillary Johnstone, talking Federal Budget highlights and what’s next for the banking industry, in light of recent failures (also a good opportunity for common sense governance reminders).  You can watch our segment here.  Some comments on our discussion.

From a corporate perspective, one of the important areas in the Federal budget that family businesses should be focusing on is the intergenerational transfer provisions, in terms of succession.  In short, this section addresses past tax related discrepancies that could make it more desirable for business owners to sell their shares to a third party, rather than intergenerational transfer, and identifies two transition approaches.

The issue of business succession is an important one, as many business owners have “overstayed” their time at the helm, with the pandemic resulting in additional delays.  The reality is that the majority of small businesses lack a formal succession plan and qualified successors with the necessary funds are difficult to find.  In addition, many small businesses have not kept up with marketplace competition and industry trends, which typically results in a declining customer base and value.  Business owners don’t only need transition options, they also need to have this important issue brought to the forefront in a constructive manner, otherwise, the likely outcome will be windup or closure.  The key message at this point is to get professional advice, in terms of business transition and preparation to do so, as this is best done years in advance.  Reading Defusing the Family Business Time Bomb can be helpful to moving this important process along, including identifying steps to take, decisions to make, and the basis of advisor conversations.

The recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and weaknesses in others have raised a lot of questions about the stability of this sector, and although the Canadian banking system is not directly comparable to institutions in other countries, the news of recent weeks is an indication of how a ripple effect of concern can travel.  A lot has been said about senior management and regulators, and although we do not know all of the details here, situations such as this are a good opportunity to be reminded of governance responsibilities, including the following:

  • Boards of Directors have an important role to play, beyond that of the basic governance responsibilities that include representing shareholders and providing oversight; these are givens.
  • Board members need to ask the difficult questions, including in terms of adherence to policies and key systems and practices that should be in place.
  • Risk management is a critical issue, especially in challenging times; the recent pronounced environmental shift in areas such as inflation, interest rates, and the capital markets are good examples.  Communication with the Board should be enhanced during difficult times.
  • Board members with a significant level of experience and skill have the ability to add considerable value, especially in the face of challenge.  In order for this to occur:
    • Board members have to make the effort to do so, in a tangible and practical manner; and
    • Management has to “park its ego” and be receptive to this type of advice.  CEO’s who surround themselves with weak senior team and Board members are a red flag, to say the least.
  • Finally, Board members are not there to be friends with Management, to cheerlead, or provide only the sunny side of input; this does not fulfill the governance role, at its core, nor is it helpful, particularly in times of trouble.  Board members who “look good on paper”, but prove to be ineffective in raising the tough questions when needed do little to fulfill their role.

When a prominent business fails, there are many questions to be asked.  It is important to remember that the accountability conversation is not just one that involves Management and industry rules and regulations; governance also has a seat at the table.

Thank you for watching and see you again soon.

 

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (March, 2023)

Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Chris Glover and Elmer Kim, talking the closure of Nordstrom stores in Canada, increasing cell roaming charges, and Tall Poppy Syndrome (what’s that?, you ask; keep reading).  You can watch our segment here.

Some thoughts on our discussion.  As much as the business world is changing, there is always a degree of humbling when large companies (or parts of them) fail.  As Nordstrom announced the closure of its Canadian stores this week, perhaps the most telling aspect of this development is the fact that its operations here have never been profitable.  This suggests that what is at play is more than the impact of relatively recent factors such as inflation, COVID19, and the changing face of retail.  Business fundamentals are important for companies of all sizes, including conducting targeted market research, comprehensive business planning, identifying the right business model, and rolling out the launch properly.  Nordstrom is not the first large US chain to fail in Canada (Target stores may be the most pronounced example), raising the question of how well they really understood the Canadian market prior to entry.

Increasing roaming charges are another expenditure facing Canadians on the move, in terms of cell phone fees that are already much higher than what is the case in other countries; numerous studies have confirmed this fact. Although much has been said about the geographic realities of Canada, it would be helpful to bring some innovation and collaboration to this issue, as well as the initiative to meaningfully address this matter.  Given the “infrastructure” nature of cellular communications, it is a reasonable expectation that fee and lack of competitiveness issues raised by consumers should be addressed.

And, finally, although you might not have heard the term Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS) before, if you are a woman in the business world, you may have experienced it.  According to a recent study conducted by Women of Influence, TPS occurs when people are attacked, resented, disliked, criticized, or cut down because of their achievements and/or success.  The study’s findings indicate that almost 90% of respondents, including thousands of women from all demographics and professions in 103 countries, experienced this phenomenon at work.

On a personal level, I found it important to participate in this study, as respect, fairness, and equity are integral to a successful workplace.  Speaking from experience, although the majority of organizations and people do not exhibit these behaviors, too many do (and when it happens to you, someone else in your workplace, or a close colleague, it is evident).  To be clear, these behaviors should not be confused with “competition” (ambitious women say “bring it on!”); this conduct is about bias.

Related to this point, unacceptable or unprofessional conduct by others in the workplace is not the fault of the women who are subjected to it; rather, inappropriate behavior defines those who exhibit it.  Why?  Simply because it does not represent the norm or what is acceptable, and those who treat others in this manner might be surprised to learn that their conduct does not fade into the overall work experience.  Women should not be criticized for raising this issue either; doing so is another way of minimizing an important issue that needs to be addressed.

There is a cost associated with TPS, on both a personal and organizational level.  Business leaders, owners, boards of directors, and shareholders should care about inequitable treatment and bias in the workplace, not only from a cost perspective, but also in terms of reputation.  Keep in mind that this behavior can and does also happen in places where it might not be expected, including in large companies and those associated with “prestige” or brand recognition.  Learn more about TPS and the study findings from the infographic below.

Thanks for watching and see you again soon!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (February, 2023)

Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Mark Warner and Hillary Johnstone, talking high grocery prices, the US Federal Reserve interest rate increase, and ChatGPT’s subscription plans; you can watch our segment here.

Some thoughts on our discussion.

It’s no secret that rising prices have been challenging for consumers in recent months, especially at the grocery store.  And now that price freezes have concluded, many consumers are wondering when they might see some relief.  Although inflation rates have declined in recent months, it is expected to be a while before “near normal” levels will occur, which means that shoppers have a need to keep time tested advice in mind: make a list, be flexible in choices, focus on buying what is needed, and shop around.  As the Summer months near, we will see some additional produce choices in the marketplace, which could be helpful.  Having said that, it isn’t too late to start your own garden preparations, as seed displays begin to appear in stores!

Speaking of inflation, the US Federal Reserve slightly raised interest rates this past week, but unlike Canada, did not indicate a pause in rate hikes.  Although our countries are closely connected, in terms of business relationships and trade, there is something to be said for stepping back to observe how rate increases impact not only the economy, but also companies.  Business owners deal with a tremendous amount of practical, real world challenges on the front lines of their company on a daily basis.  Although inflation also affects companies, in terms of the goods/supplies that they purchase, they are also impacted by rising labour costs and interest rates, by way of debt and financing obligations.  It is important to balance increasing rates to combat inflation with adverse impacts to business in other areas, keeping in mind that the implications are often not immediate and there is a danger in “oversteering”.

And, finally, as ChatGPT continues to attract attention, will it be able to access subscriber money, to the tune of $20 USD per month?  There is a need for people and technology to work together to be more productive, in terms of business applications, however, as consumers choose carefully about where to spend their money in challenging economic times, paid subscribers may be elusive over the longterm (building a sustainable customer base is so important for companies!).  This technology has some applications, however, expect a number of real life stakeholders (such as those in the business world) to require more robust solutions.

Thanks for watching and see you again next time!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (January, 2023)

A new year, another appearance on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel; this time, alongside Dennis Mitchell, Christian Bravo, and Chris Glover, talking inflation rates, possible changes to mortgage guidelines, and business succession (of particular relevance for small business owners!).  You can watch our segment here.

Some thoughts on our conversation.

The rate of inflation announced this week in the US indicates a continued decline over the past six months; what does this mean?  It’s important to remember the need to step back and consider in context, as this allows trends to be identified, even if only on a preliminary basis.  Although six months of inflation rate declines can be reasonably considered as a trend, it is important to recognize that the timeframe is short term in nature (less than one year), and that rates may vary slightly from month to month (real life isn’t always a straight line).  Further, much of the most recent decline can be attributed to falling gas prices, so it will be important to monitor movement in this regard in the coming months.

Further, as the US is expected to reach its debt ceiling this week, it remains to be seen how Congress will address this issue in the coming months.  Failure to raise the debt ceiling could result in confidence issues, which can lead to economic and financial risk.  While business lives in the practical world of the direct impact of rising prices, a tight labour market, and ongoing supply chain challenges, politics can get lost in the theatre of partisanship, holdouts, and tradeoffs; stay tuned.

As interest rates continue to rise, Canada’s top banking regulator is considering tightening mortgage rules.  Although it makes sense to manage risk in areas where households in situations of significant debt and mortgage amounts, a balance is needed to ensure that those who should reasonably qualify for a mortgage are able to do so.  It is not helpful to create additional stress on the rental market, or to slow reasonable home sales in a manner that could also impact the construction market.  Rules can sometimes have unintended consequences, so understanding the practical realities is important, prior to development and implementation.

And, finally, a recent (and familiar) report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business indicates that 76% of owners plan to exit their businesses within 10 years.  As a business advisor and author of Defusing the Family Business Time Bombthis headline is not surprising, as reports over the last decade or more have had similar findings.  A few things to think about on this topic of critical importance to business owners and Canada’s economy:

  • Unless a business leader has bought and sold several companies, they tend to have little experience in the areas of succession and transition.
  • These studies tend to find that only a small percentage (in the single digits) have a formal, written succession plan.  While some have an “informal plan”, the majority of business owners tend to indicate that they do not have a succession plan.
  • For numerous reasons, succession planning should commence years in advance of the time of transition (a minimum of three to five years) and it is critical to demonstrate a track record of “good to great” financial performance (over years, not months).  Keep in mind that companies that are able to generate a strong exit value (i.e., sales price) have a track record well in excess of the norm.
  • Qualified successors/acquirers with the necessary capital to undertake a transaction are limited, which makes business succession competitive.  This is something that business owners tend to underestimate.

Advisors can help, and the sooner that business owners put a priority on succession planning, the better (a new year is a great time to start).  Thanks for watching, and see you again soon.

 

 

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (November, 2022)

Another busy week on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Jeanhy Shim and John Northcott, talking layoffs at Meta, the collapse of crypto platform FTX, increasing financial strain, and more; watch our segment here.

 

Some thoughts on our conversation.

Although businesses with emerging ideas can be exciting places to be, one of the challenges is that the plan to make these ideas a reality is not always as well developed as it should be.  When opportunity appears, growth companies have a tendency to put resources to work first, which could include hiring people without fully understanding the necessary roles, skillset, and quantity, as well as allocating funds to a range of areas.  Before long, a lot of money could be spent, and without sound project management, these initiatives tend to drift and may not fulfill what was initially envisioned; they can also run well behind expected timelines.  A company’s core business can also suffer, while focus and resources are allocated elsewhere, resulting in problems in various areas.  These situations can “snowball” and become quite significant,

Some might think that this scenario would primarily occur in smaller businesses, however, this can happen in any size of company, where growth gets ahead of good planning (analogous to the cart before the horse).  The Meta layoffs raise the question of how well the “metaverse” plan was established, resourced, and managed, and also brings to mind the importance of market timing, in terms of the extent to which consumers are ready for what companies develop or are planning to bring to the marketplace.

The FTX collapse is a reminder that the crypto sector is one of high risk and brings to mind the pitfall of thinking that all companies associated with a novel business category are “winners” (examples of this were also seen in industries such as technology and the internet).  High risk businesses include those that have a limited track record, weaknesses in areas such as governance and oversight, and thin business models; they also tend to have people in leadership roles with limited experience.  This story is a reminder to keep risk considerations in check, especially in those “seems too good to be true” situations.

And, finally, as inflation rates remain high and interest rates continue to rise, there is no doubt that Canadians are feeling the stress of the situation.  Over the past couple of years, a drive around many communities is all that was needed to recognize empty office spaces and companies that were no longer in business; this includes job losses.  Despite a tight labour market, moving one displaced employee to a vacant job is not always feasible, making solvency difficult for some Canadians.  It is important to recognize that, like COVID, our economy may not reach brighter days for a while, despite our best hopes.  This is an important area to continue to monitor, for consumers and businesses alike.

It was a pleasure to join this week’s Business Panel from beautiful Nova Scotia!  Thank you for watching and see you again soon.

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (October, 2022)

Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel on a busy news week, alongside Jeanhy Shim, Gareth Watson, and John Northcott, talking the impact of Hurricane Fiona and changing travel rules.  You can watch our segment here.

A few thoughts on our conversation.

Hurricane Fiona has brought significant damage to Atlantic Canada, including Nova Scotia, a place that has been close to my heart for many years.  Although the human toll and importance of personal safety are top of mind, our discussion (being the Business Panel) focused on business.

There are many aspects of how disasters and challenges that have the potential to impact business for any period of time can be problematic.  Despite technological advances and increases in remote work arrangements, companies of all sizes tend to generate a lot of paper; this is especially the case for small businesses.  When disaster strikes, it is a good reminder to think about the ease with which a company could continue to operate, in the event that “the office” could not be accessed for a period of time, is damaged, or worse.  Here are a few things for business leaders to think about:

  • What information is critical to the company’s operation?  Where is it stored (i.e., online, paper, both, etc.)?
  • Does the company have online systems that are secure and operating well?  Consider areas such as accounting, banking, staffing, payroll, sales, customer service, operations, etc.
  • Does the business leader have access to critical information in the event of a disaster?  Consider areas such as insurance, banking, financial information to complete claims and support applications, etc.
  • Does the company have a communications strategy in place for contacting staff members, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders?
  • Does the company have a plan and strategy for continuing to operate, where possible, such as through remote operations or an alternate location?
  • Does the company have a list of alternate suppliers, in the event that existing vendors are unable to fulfill their role?
  • Does the company review its insurance coverage on at least an annual basis?  Business continuity insurance is an area to discuss with qualified insurance advisors, among others.
  • What areas of the business still need to be migrated to an online solution?  In other words, what is in all of that “paper” anyway, and what are the areas of priority that need to be addressed?

This is an important area and something that will not be resolved in a day or two for most companies.  Advisors can help business leaders work through the detail to developing and implementing a plan to resolve this problem.

We also discussed the travel industry, in terms of the impact of rising costs/inflation, the removal of some COVID19 related travel requirements, and airline services from new providers.  While rising costs are expected to have an impact on spending in range of areas, some travelers will likely be looking for ways to make their money go further.  Tactics could include shorter duration trips, lower cost destinations, or traveling with others to make the most of accommodation dollars.  Given that the travel industry has struggled during the pandemic, it will be interesting to see whether the relaxing of restrictions such as masking on planes are an attraction or detraction for travelers, as COVID numbers rise in some areas.

And, finally, here are a few photos of beautiful Nova Scotia; thinking of everyone in Atlantic Canada who has been impacted by Hurricane Fiona and hoping for calmer seas ahead.  Thanks for watching.