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15th June, 2020
Zoom Webinar

Haysmacintyre Panel Discussion on Business’ Road to Recovery During Covid-19

Haysmacintyre, a leading UK accountancy firm, invited Russell Brown OBE, Managing Partner at LehmanBrown International Accountants in China to join a panel of experts to discuss “What can you and your business do to prepare for lockdown easing and the road to recovery?”. The panel included Giovanna Forte, the CEO of Forte Medical, Rupert Merson, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School, and Sarah Turner, CEO & Founder of Angel Academe, and the panel was directed by Natasha Frangos, Partner of Haysmacintyre, Head of Corporate and Head of Creative, Media and Technology.

General Business Strategy

  • Work Smarter Not Harder
  • Take Good Care of the Client or Customers
  • Seek Long-Term Opportunities Not Short-Term

The panel’s general opinion was that business and entrepreneurs should work smarter and not harder, to minimise any effects on the staff’s wellbeing and costs to the business, while maximising customer or client satisfaction.

Client and customer relations is the most critical factor during a pandemic as they will be a reliable source of income which will guarantee the business will exist post-pandemic.

Once a proper workflow has been established businesses must look not at opportunities in the short-term but instead look for greater opportunities in the long-term to secure their future.

How Should Business Change?

  • Seek New Markets
  • China’s E-Commerce Program

In response to a question by the attendees of the discussion “How Should Business Change?” concerning the current pandemic situation the panels suggested by looking for new markets where a business can find a new source of income.

Russell Brown expanded that there are currently new opportunities for international businesses and SMEs to access the Chinese market via the E-Commerce Programs being rolled out through many cities in China, where SMEs do not necessarily need a legal entity in China. These provide the ability to export their products to China and increase sales. Should companies need boots on the ground while using platforms for sales as this includes the whole distribution and logistics solutions, they could look to establish a Representative Office (a branch) to improve business coordination. Tax incentives were also possible in certain areas.

What is the situation in China?

  • China is Out of Lockdown
  • Economy is Slowly Recovering
  • Plenty of Support for Businesses
  • Market Opening – Possible Reduction of the Negative List
  • Software Access Limited

On the topic of China, Russell Brown shared that as China is steadily coming out of lockdown, its economy is also recovering. However, the manufacturing and the service sectors are suffering from lower demands because of the prevailing situation in the rest of the world.

China’s gradual recovery is probably the result of all the policies which had been announced and enforced to unburden businesses financially, allow access to possible loans for SMEs and Entrepreneurs, exemptions of some and reduction of social welfare costs, a large costs in China, rental holidays or reductions and various local Government support mechanism.

As China recovers, it is expected to continue its opening of different industry sectors and markets for foreign businesses, and during the recent Two Sessions annual Government meeting, this was expressed with a  reduction of the Negative List, which outlines restrictions. Particular areas that will be expanded for foreign investment are healthcare and tech.

Meanwhile, there are some more practical hindrances to doing business in China, which were expressed in the recent publication of the British Chamber of Commerce in China’s Annual Position Paper, which LehmanBrown contributed to for the accounting industry section. Specifically, in the reduction of barriers for international software to function acceptably in China. During Covid-19, when companies needed to set up remote working and collaboration tools, a lot of overseas software applications were blocked or heavily restricted.

Are Investors Investing?

  • Investors are Eager to Invest
  • Invest Cautiously
  • Avoid Investing in Trends
  • Invest in Education, Recruiting Platforms or other Post-Pandemic Trends
  • Seek Sensible Growth and Forecasting

Sarah Turner shared her insights on how investors are currently investing, saying that there were plenty of investors eager to invest; however warns them to be very cautious. Most investors must not fall into the trap of investing in current trends which could see huge profits now but may drop in value post-pandemic. Instead, investors should seek investments which will give returns post-pandemic like in the education sector or the recruitment sector and any other trend which will become essential in a non-pandemic economy.

Lastly, when investing, investors must make sure to look at every detail with a critical eye to determine if the growth predictions are realistic and not inflated and if the forecasts take everything to account.


What will Business be Like in the Future?

  • Further Digitalization
  • Staff Allowed to Work Remotely
  • Cleaner Office Environments
  • Healthier Office Policies
  • Reluctance to Commute

All panellists agreed that business in future would expand their capabilities to have all documents and materials digitally accessible and find new ways to use technology to avoid travelling or commuting to the office. The time spent under lockdown has also created a discovery for business owners that by allowing staff to work from home, there may be more benefits than expected.

Working remotely has seen a surge in productivity, potentially due to staff able to manage better their work-life balance, while offering a solution for unwell staff members to work from home and recover without infecting the business.

However, such changes will need a total re-evaluation of a company’s HR policy, and rules will need to be tweaked to maximise the balance between productivity and social impact on staff. There was also a question of how you can create a culture with remote working.

Lastly, the future may see fewer employees willing to commute to work via public transportation and seek offices where working remotely is possible, or the office is closer to home.

Have more questions?

If you want to know more about China and how LehmanBrown can help you or your business in China or abroad please email us at enquiries@lehmanbrown.com.

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