Reflections

Guest post by Dynamo member Nick Green of Fatgreen Consuting.

“If we can get through this, our business can get through anything” I remarked with relief and elation to my then business partner.  I am of course referring to the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong, a place a proud Geordie called home for eighteen years.

As the world boomed, we in Hong Kong lived a life reminiscent of a Hollywood disaster movie set.  Deserted streets complimented by an eerie silenced sourndtrack.  Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s equivalent of the Big Market normally thronging with activity and noise was devoid of party revellers, bar a handful of die-hard Westerners determined to carry on as usual.

Despite the challenges with SARS we survived and my business went on to achieve great success.  Success emboldened by a sense of destiny, in-turn underpinned by a confidence that no matter what was thrown at us, we could cope.

And what is the chance of a once in a lifetime event occurring again?  Surely the law of average and probability would protect us from similar unforeseen events.   Futurologists claim that to predict and the future look to history.

Nineteen years later, now living back in the North, I once again find myself in the midst of another respiratory pandemic, yet this time global with seemingly biblical proportions.  How naïve was I to convince myself that lightening only strikes once and I would never live through another pandemic!

Despite the trauma experienced during SARS I remind myself that once dissipated, Hong Kong experienced a huge economic boom.  It seemed people, myself included, threw themselves into work with vim and vigour making up for time lost.

Once again, Hong Kong re-emerged like a Pheonix from the flames.  Where there was silence there was noise.  Where there was darkness there was light.  Once again, chaos associated with the hustle and bustle of a busy city.  Just like the Big Market, Lan Kwai Fong again revelled and we drank to the future!

If history repeats, could we see a similar pattern of activity emerge in the UK?  Newspapers reported the proud people of Newcastle queued in eager anticipation of the bars reopening.  Eager to demonstrate solidarity and support for the local economy, just as the good people of Hong Kong provided much needed income for the bars in Lan Kwai Fong post SARS.

I am not an economist, but I am an optimist and whilst my glass is too frequently half empty, I view the world from the perspective of a glass half full.  Sentiment within the business community seems emboldened and gathering positive momentum as people throw themselves back into work making up for time lost during lockdown.

Jes Staley the CEO of Barclays is calling the strongest period of economic growth since the Second World War claiming, “tremendous pent-up demand” and anticipating “robust economic recovery in 2021” with growth rates of circa 6.5%.

Assuming we are nearing light at the end of the tunnel and praying the Indian Covid variant does not gain momentum in the UK, what lessons can we learn from recent experiences?

Now in my late forties, I have learnt to accept life is full of unforeseen events and challenges.  Perversely, it seems just when life is “ticking along nicely”, a curve ball hits without warning catching all by surprise just as it did my father. Taken from myself and my mother following his heart-attack aged just thirty-eight.

Fortuitously, my father had the foresight to arrange Life Insurance cover removing the financial burden on my mother.  Had he not done so I shudder to consider how my mother would have coped emotionally, shouldering personal loss and financial pressure.

As I reflect on personal experiences, SARS and Covid, I am taking stock of what is important in my life.  Whilst I enjoy a drink, socialising, new clothes etc, etc, are such frivolities still my priority?   I think not.

My priorities are as always being a husband, father and business owner and ensuring the ones I love and care for are protected just as my mother and I were.  Just as my father ensured my mother and myself were bereft of financial burden, I am reviewing my personal, family and business insurance to ensure they can deliver in the new norm in which we live.

Should you wish to review your own personal, family and business insurance protection requirements please feel very welcome to contact me, Nick Green, nick@fatgreen.co.uk.

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