Prudent risk, cash flow management critical in navigating COVID-19 says Scotia executive

Prudent risk, cash flow management critical in navigating COVID-19 says Scotia executive

Sunday, July 05, 2020

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SCOTIABANK'S Senior Vice-President Dr Adrian Stokes believes that prudent risk and cash flow management strategies will be critical for local businesses to navigate the economic shock triggered by COVID-19.

Addressing an investment briefing for Scotiabank customers recently, Dr Stokes said local businesses would need to assess the risks to their operations amid the uncertainties carefully.

This he said is to remain afloat in an economy that has been projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to plunge - 5.3 per cent this fiscal year, the worst economic decline in Jamaica since the 1970s.

Also crucial for businesses, emphasised the Scotiabank executive, is access to cash. Dr Stokes stressed that the extent to which Jamaican businesses are liquid or have access to cash would determine their success in surviving the economic crunch.

In highlighting the importance of proper risk and cash flow management during periods such as now, Dr Stokes said: “These 'black swan' events, low probability but significant pain when they occur, can wipe businesses out and therefore you have to ensure that you have a strategy that mitigates as much as possible the risk inherent in your business and also importantly, ensure that you have access to liquidity.” He pointed out that “liquidity is the lifeblood of any business [so] ensure that you have it or have good access to it”.

Dr Stokes added that “without a good liquidity management system, usually what happens is that even good companies will become insolvent. The problem will start as a liquidity problem, but it will quickly degenerate into a solvency problem if you can't manage. So especially during the good times, you should be planning for a rainy day.”

Commenting on how Scotiabank has responded to its corporate and retail customers amid the pandemic, Dr Stokes said the bank has been proactive and flexible.

“Our team has been very proactive in reaching out to customers and working with them through this critical period. For example, our corporate bankers have been working with many of our customers to find customised solutions. These solutions are designed to meet the specific needs of each customer's business, and that approach has been working well. The same thing on the retail side, our retail customers have been given the option to defer payments. In the insurance business, we have extended the period over which you can pay your premiums without putting your policy at risk,” Dr Stokes said.

For people looking to withdraw monies from their policies, Dr Stokes indicated: “We know this is a time when persons will need additional cash so we have decided to waive fees on these types of transactions, ” he ended.

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