2020 will surely be remembered as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We sat and watched as it unfolded, spreading slowly around the globe, killing the most vulnerable in society first before working its way to celebrities, sports stars, famous actors and politicians. Nowhere was safe from the virus and whilst the PPE industry skyrocketed, the rest of the world came to a grinding halt.
The response to the pandemic and the need to adapt our lifestyles to the new social distancing measureswhich included wearing masks, standing 2 meters apart in public and the shutdown of the global economywere the distinctive features of 2020. A year that ended with the images of the first doses of vaccines given to medical staff.
So, it’s 2021 and we are coming up to our 3rd week in, and we are still seeing the measures of last year gain even more traction whilst being enforced more rigorously. The desire of getting back to a normal life stands out, whilst appearing to drift further and further out of reach as the media and government report the ever-increasing numbers of victims struck down by the virus no matter how long we are locked down for. Unless you are New Zealand who has managed to keep the virus at bay so far.
Global leaders stand together with the shared vision to lay the ground for a ‘sustainable, inclusive and transformative economic recovery.’ The question is, how will that vision change our daily working lives?
The Action Plan put in place by the G20 has been designed and adapted for the need to develop long-term strategies to underpin a transformative recovery geared towards more sustainable and inclusive societies. This means taking an approach country by country to fit their specific needs, not a ‘one cap fits all approach’ as we have seen in the past but more an approach that takes into account the specifics of a country's individual needs in order to bring unity.
Does this mean that countries will approach economic recovery differently or that countries will develop their own individual approach? The answer in the G20 framework doesn’t stipulate so. The framework proposes a common way of working that takes into consideration individual nation’s needs, whilst ultimately working towards the same united goal of global financial recovery.
What does this mean? For the G20, recovery means promoting measures designed specifically to kick startproductivity increases and digital transformation, which should, among other things, contribute to bridging the gap with the most vulnerable parts of the society. In short, connecting the world more consciously to the adoption of a digital future which has already begun to transform the way we do business.
According to the the G20 Italian Presidency, ‘the agenda is structured around three pillars: People, Planet and Prosperity. A transformative global growth must cater for the preservation of the balance between people and planet and should start from the opportunities provided by new technologies and digital rollout. Pre-pandemic trends on the development and use of digital technologies were already showing a steady shift towards digital economy in many productive sectors. Somewhere slower than others, in particular economic sectors characterised by a large number of small and medium enterprises. Nonetheless, lifestyle and consumption patterns changes foisted by the pandemic restrictive measures have led to an unprecedented acceleration of the use of new technologies, which many observers tend to define as a 'digital revolution’. (G20.org)
A drive towards working towards a ‘digital revolution’ that focuses one 3rd on ‘The Planet’ will be to promote a greener future. This can be achieved in part by greener technologies, green energy, and a major reduction in travel. When we examine how we travel to work in congested cities, we take cheap flights for holidays and business we are polluting the air that we breath. The current system is far from efficient and no amount of congestion charging is going to improve air quality, however a reduction in burning fossil fuels to get to work will.
Is the digital revolution one that will promote home working as the new normal? Will it mean that we don’t need to travel to offices or meeting rooms or to meet clients? If the answer is yes, then how will that affect the way in which we procure new clients or build relationships with existing ones. And what will happen if we are simply restricted from travelling anywhere that is deemed ‘non-essential’ for the foreseeable future?
If you are an IFA, financial advisor, wealth manager or someone who has traditionally relied on meeting potential clients face to face, then the above questions I imagine are one’s that you are beginning to ask yourself as ultimately they will have a lasting effect on how you will do business now and in the future.
At the beginning of last year, I published an article that asked the same questions, and today it would appear that those questions and the questions above are now becoming a reality. We are witnessing the beginning of a huge shift in which the ‘old traditional’ is becoming the ‘new traditional’ way to do business. Digital services that provide online conferencing and connectivity services have seen a sharp increase in usage. From holding board meetings, to meeting clients to training. The shift away from face to face meetings to online connectivity is not only cost efficient, but it’s also environmentally friendly.
Change happens whether it's planned or emergent, with the outcome being that there are those who will be early adopters and will run with it from day one and in many cases be ahead of the curve, so the transition is not a difficult one to make. Then those who are resistors but will ultimately make the change in order to survive and not everyone will. And finally, there will be those who won’t change and will leave the industry or business they are in.
The question that remains is: Are you ready for the digital revolution?