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COVID-19 AND REPUTATION: A NEW REALITY FOR BUSINESS?

By Alberto Lopez Valenzuela, Founder and CEO, alva, and author of The Connecting Leader

 

While there is much talk of the world “returning to normality” with the worst of Covid-19 now hopefully behind us, it seems unlikely that society will allow businesses to simply revert to how they behaved before.

Having been plunged into uncertainty by Coronavirus, businesses have been rapidly rethinking their stakeholder management priorities, conscious that the corporate reputation rulebook is being rewritten. Some are already showing they have learnt from these valuable lessons as the Black Lives Matter crisis unfolds.

My assessment is that we’re now in the middle of a second distinct phase of the changes initiated by Covid-19, and will sooner or later be moving into a third, fourth and final phase. And after that, a new reality will emerge.

Each of these phases has seen the needs of different stakeholder groups come to the fore, prompting corresponding corporate responses.

 

Shock and survival

Roughly corresponding with the second half of March and most of April, the early Shock Phase involved an outpouring of altruism from businesses in all sectors, committed to doing the right thing, whatever the cost.

The stakeholder groups that were the focus of this charitable period were society at large, the local communities surrounding a given business, and key workers, especially those in healthcare. Empathy and solidarity were the order of the day; resources were redirected into healthcare, to support the vulnerable with donations, and to allow payment holidays.

In late May, businesses moved into the Existential Phase. Here, the stakeholders most in focus were company employees, as decisions had to be made about whether furloughed staff could be retained, and how best to ensure job security.

In making pragmatic decisions for their survival, the importance of each company’s people – and who could and could not do be done without – had to be weighed up. This evolved into a focus on employee health and wellbeing, as firms attempted to ensure that staff were protected, safe and comfortable as they moved to reopen their businesses.

 

Recovery, then letting our hair down

Around late June, we’re likely to enter the Recovery Phase, with businesses turning their attention to the chance to reopen and recoup some of the losses experienced during the worst of the crisis.

This will mean a refocus on financial stakeholders – companies will seek to assuage shareholder concerns on their viability. Decisions over whether to pay out dividends or channel cashflow back into the business will become front-page news, while firms will also look to project an image of ‘business as usual’, ahead of this actually having been realised. Shareholders’ needs have come under scrutiny, and their dominance as the primary stakeholders in business decisions has been seriously questioned.

Sooner or later, we’ll enter the Pent-up Demand Phase. After suffering the deprivations of lockdown, demand for pre-Covid luxuries will soar. People are likely to feel they deserve that big night out, the rush of retail therapy, or a long-awaited holiday abroad. And as financial hardships will mean many consumers’ spending power is reduced, companies will need to be especially creative as they jockey for position to be the beneficiaries of this wave of spending.

We might repeat the above cycle, or parts of it, more than once.

But in time, we will get to the New Reality, a post-pandemic take on capitalism that may well rewrite the rules of business as usual. Through the phases of business response to Covid-19, it was demonstrated that companies were generally able to rebalance their stakeholder focus as events shifted.

The virus has proved that the business world is able to step away from hierarchical shareholder-centric capitalism in which financial stakeholders are always the top priority, and move towards a model in which stakeholder prioritisation is fluid and based upon shifting needs.

This more stakeholder-focused model would mean businesses positioning themselves as part of society, with equal responsibilities to employees, customers, the community and their shareholders, rather than solely as a conduit for channelling profits to investors.

It would build on the growing emphasis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, and we may begin to see increased finance streams being redirected into fair employee pay, community programmes and enhanced customer service.

The trade-off for shareholders on the receiving end of reduced dividends is simple, and very attractive – a stake in more robust businesses that are better able to survive whatever the future brings.

If so, the Coronavirus may ultimately be remembered as the catalyst for the realisation of a fairer, more enlightened form of capitalism that allows society and the planet as a whole to thrive.

Business

TOP 5 LINKEDIN PROFILE OPTIMIZATION HACKS FOR ASPIRING BANKERS

According to Firmex, finance professionals cannot afford to be not on LinkedIn. A significant number of organizations acquire talent in the financial industry through LinkedIn.

Especially for aspiring professionals, your internet presence matters a lot as recruiters are most likely to search your name on the internet before making a decision about your application.

As an aspiring banker on a professional platform, you should consider changing the outlook of your profile, to garner the recruiter’s attention. Your profile is unlikely to get noticed if it is out-of-date and inaccurate.

Here’s how you can optimize your LinkedIn profile:

 

Headline

Here’s an example of a good headline for a banker:

“Aspiring Banker majored in finance specializing in forecasting and risk management best practices”.

Scrolling through most professional profiles for bankers on LinkedIn, these individuals pay little attention to the headline.

A well-optimized headline gives the recruiters reasons to click on a profile. Though you just have 120 characters to make it great and charm the recruiter.

You can include pointers on what you are trying to achieve as a banker, or include your major as a way of connecting the skills-gap. If you are an MBA degree holder, then you can reflect this on your headline along with the major.

Though here are a few things you should know about creating a headline:

  • Be professional and avoid writing words like “superstar worker”, “top performer”, etc.
  • Be discreet with your job search, don’t directly mention “looking for a job”, “unemployed”, etc.
  • Research on other professional’s headlines with a network presence.
  • Include the usage of strong adjectives/action verbs.

 

Connections

On LinkedIn, develop meaningful connections with professionals and recruiters. With little effort, you can significantly increase your number of connections.

However, having 5000+ connections is not valuable if they are irrelevant to your interests. Hence, keep your connections limited to professionals in the finance industry.

  • Connect with individuals that are relevant in the finance industry and send a personalized message along with the connection request.
  • You are most likely to get ignored if you mindlessly send out requests. Though LinkedIn advocates being active, you should derive an invitation strategy for effective network expansion.
  • Message recruiters that are hiring professionals in the finance industry and ask them for advice on how you can further optimize your profile.

 

Professional Experience

Your LinkedIn profile works as a digital resume. It should give an idea of a constructive career progression. Hence, LinkedIn profile optimization becomes quite important.

  • Write points in a bullet form, don’t include long paragraphs.
  • Mentioning your roles and responsibilities isn’t ideal. Construct the points in a way that showcase all your accomplishments & contributions.
  • Add your projects separately; do not add them in the career highlights section.

 

Keywords

As with any other search engine, recruiters are dependent on the algorithm to show them the best profile as per their searches. Based on a certain set of relevant keywords in your industry, recruiters will try to search for candidates on LinkedIn.

Here’s how you can use keywords to optimize your profile:

  • Research: Thoroughly research the keywords that are of prime importance in the finance industry. Check the profiles of other professionals on LinkedIn and refer job postings to gain an understanding of how to sprinkle these keywords in your profile.
  • Section: Utilize each section efficiently of your LinkedIn profile to showcase your contributions and achievements. Don’t just stuff your profile with contextual keywords. In the end, your profile should foremost be easily readable.
  • Industry and Skills: Update the industry in your profile and include all the skills you are familiar with. Further, you can even include skills that you are not familiar with. Let’s say you need to include “Budget Forecasting” in your profile and you have not had any real-life experience with it. You may write it as “Interested in gaining experience in budget forecasting”.

 

Skills & Recommendations

Recruiters look for professionals who can deliver, hence your profile should include the skills that are highly relevant to your targeted profile. Though in the banking industry recruiters search for general skills as well. So, make sure your profile is a match for both.

Further, just listing your expertise is not going to be enough. Get your mentors, employers, etc. to write you a stellar recommendation. If you provide credibility for your skills then it can do wonders for you.

 

Final Word

  • Just as the headline of your profile, your picture is equally important. Make sure you use a professional-looking photograph.
  • Continue to engage with your connections through comments and professional messaging.

As you are a banking professional, your profile is probably going to end up looking like all about your core competencies, However, it is important to include a few pointers about your hobbies that describe your personality as well.

 

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Business

HOW MILLENNIALS CAN GET AHEAD WITH THEIR MONEY

Granville Turner, Director at company formation specialists, Turner Little. 

 

Millennials are often painted as globe-trotting creatures that spend more money on avocadoes than their future. But that can’t be further from the truth. Millennials tend to be good savers, at least compared to other generations. Industry data shows that more than 70% of millennials have started putting money away for retirement and beyond.

“Millennials still struggle with investing. Often because they feel they don’t know enough about the market, but it’s never too late to invest in your understanding. It’s a great way to make your finances work harder for you,” says Granville Turner, Director at company formation specialists, Turner Little.

Here are some things you can start doing now, or preparing for, to set yourself up for a future of learning and investing:

 

Start early

The most apparent advantage millennials have over older generations is the luxury of time. Whilst everyone can weigh up the risks and rewards of investing, you’re particularly well-placed to see a solid return on your investments.

 

Challenge risk

When you invest money for longer, you can become less phased by the ups and downs and be able to view inevitable declines as opportunity instead. It’s better to look at yearly or even longer figures for a more accurate reflection of performance.

 

Put your money to work 

Money that sits in a savings account, uninvested, is almost certain to lose value over time due to inflation, or a creeping higher cost of goods and services. If your money is growing or earning you a return, it’s going to help you reach your financial goals faster.

 

Start small

Many millennials believe you need to have a serious amount of money to start investing. But in reality, even small contributions can build over time. The important thing is to start early, and make it a habit.

If you’re ready to start having the right conversations about the future of your finances, get in touch with us today. With years of knowledge and expertise, we’ll be able to assist with any enquiries, no matter how complex.

 

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