By Johnathan Dudley, Head of Manufacturing, national audit, tax, advisory & risk firm – Crowe
Businesses face a very difficult road back to what we have previously regarded as ‘normal’ trading conditions.
Getting back on track will require excellent navigation skills, and you’ll need an off road vehicle mindset, as we know it’s not going to be an easy ride.
Businesses will face cashflow shortages as they begin to face up to paying back the Coronavirus Business Interuption Loan Scheme, Bounce Back Loans and other repayable financial assistance, which Chancellor Rishi Sunak established, in March 2020, as the potential full economic impact of the pandemic, was realised.
Just as money is tight, the state support for credit insurance has been removed and the credit referencing agencies will now assume a huge responsibility in how they rate businesses – and in some cases, influence or even determine their ultimate fate.
To add to the equation, many businesses currently need to hold more stock because of shortages in many sectors and delays in many supply chains, otherwise they may have to suspend production or even suffer supply shortfall penalties from their customers.
These factors are by their very nature inflationary and we are seeing price surges in many products materials and services. And if credit limits are lowered because of credit agency ratings, then businesses will have to pay creditors in a shorter time.
It’s a vicious circle! This could trap many unwary businesses, where the directors are focused on what they can only see as a surging return in orders and the need to spend to meet them.
Meanwhile, like vultures hovering over a vulnerable animal, cyber criminals are poised to pounce.
Changes in suppliers, different accounts to be paid, new names on the purchase ledger, different credit limits requiring different payment schedules – these are all meat and drink to the cyber criminal.
Crowe’s own figures show that fraud and cybercrime now represent over 50% of all crime in the UK, and the financial and reputational risk from falling victim to such crime can be devastating.
Crowe Partner, Jim Gee, who is National Head of Forensic Services, regularly updates our clients on the dangers they face and the ways to protect against them. These include the evolving and sophisticated threat of phishing, the rapidly growing threat posed by ransomware, and your organisation being targeted on the ‘Dark Web’.
Fraud was a big enough threat before COVID-19 and the pressures on business to deal with new sources of finance, grants, alternative supply chains and other assistance has been like an open window to many fraudsters, as Engalnd and Wales have seen an almost 20% increase in fraud during the pandemic.
Working from home createshuge opportunities to fraudsters, as remote staff who know and recognise legitimate suppliers, may be temporarily out of the loop. In any event suppliers’ names and bank details may be changing because of shortages and the credit squeeze outlined earler.
Procedures are needed to maintain security of data and its validity, to avoid letting fraudsters in. Add to this the challenge of maintaining data security, with individuals using unprotected home or public networks and this alone presents a real threat to the unwary.
With this surge in fraud since COVID-19 hit the global economy, organisations need to make sure they know how to protect themselves.
All of these factors represent huge challenges to companies, particularly those in the middle of the supply chain where cash really is king and where the fraudsters know that the demands of the business might make data security issues a lower priority.. There will no doubt be more challenges.
The economy is opening up again quickly. Perhaps you need a navigator to call the ‘pace notes’ on a rally stage?
Why not let Crowe be your navigator? We have the pace notes, the roadmap, the tools and the experience, and can help you navigate the difficult corners and stay upright when you face a new business challenge.
Before you start the car, call me on 0121 543 1900 or email email@example.com.
Crowe is a national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm offering global reach and local expertise. We are an independent member of Crowe Global, one of the top 10 accounting networks in the world. With exceptional knowledge of the business environment, our professionals share one commitment, to deliver excellence.
• Miriam Sherwood, Senior Manager, National Marketing and Communications, Crowe UK. Tel: (0)121 543 1900, firstname.lastname@example.org