Ablrate Contingency Plans 19/03/2020
You may have already seen our recent business update email from our CEO David Bradley-Ward but if not we have posted this blog post to inform you of our contingency planning for the Coronavirus outbreak.
We have mapped out the risks to our business, lenders and borrowers and have implemented certain processes and procedures to ensure the safe continuation of our business.
Staffing of The Ablrate Office
As you can understand the safety of staff is of paramount importance, so we have instigated plans for our staff to work from home as of the 17th of March. You should not notice an interruption of service but there will be some practical differences where your help would be greatly appreciated.
Please communicate via email when possible. Of course, if there is an urgent issue please call our phone lines and you will get in contact with a member of staff who can help you. There might however be busier lines than normal as we will have less staff who will be able to answer your call. Please do leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. If your query is non-urgent then please do email rather then calling. The best email is firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Borrower Disruption. We have spoken with our borrowers and inevitably there will be some disruption and payments may well be delayed. If the staff of our borrowers over the coming weeks are off sick, we may experience issues and the economic environment will affect the majority of businesses in some way, shape or form. We will be monitoring and will keep you up to date if this does occur, but being realistic our loan book will not be immune from the economic effects of Covid-19.
Office visits. We are always keen to meet lenders but as of now, until further notice, we will not be issuing invites to the office and we are sure that you will understand why.
From a company point of view, we have a robust business model which provides cash flow to our business that is enough for our continued operation for some time without any new business. We have assessed the risk to our business of a continued issue with travel and restricted working through social isolation and the strain it will put on borrowers and potential borrowers.
While prolonged disruption in the markets and the restrictions that the virus is causing is not good for any business, we have good revenues and a small enough team to be nimble in these uncertain times. We are keeping our model under review and managing the business to continue the safe stewardship of lenders’ funds.
Borrowers and Loans. We are working to assess what we can do to help those borrowers who are eligible to access the grants and guaranteed loans to assist their businesses. Upon the government publishing the details on Monday we hope to be able to give some guidelines to borrowers and how we can assist in the applications if necessary.
We have been speaking with borrowers and it will be no surprise to learn that there is a concern. We have to be realistic with lenders and say that it’s inevitable that there will be those borrowers who seek to have payment holidays and it’s important for us to get ahead of this and let lenders know our stance on this.
For those businesses that are affected, we will be aiming to let you know as soon as possible through the Admin Notes and we will be focusing efforts on assisting those businesses to access the government assistance that they are entitled to. Broadly, borrowers in the leisure industries will be the hardest hit initially so we are focusing on access to funding for those borrowers presently.
Our policy on any enquiries for payment holidays is that it is not our money, it is yours, our lenders, and therefore we have to communicate to borrowers that we expect payments to be made. We have written to borrowers to update them on our policy. While this may seem harsh, we are attempting to soften this by giving all assistance on accessing the government measures to help.
We do, however, have the balancing act of making sure that our demands for payment do not adversely affect the businesses in question during this volatile time and realistically our loan book will not be immune from short term issues.
I am, however, firmly of the belief that this government will do whatever is required to pump money into the economy. It would be a nightmare for the government to see large scale administrations and the unemployment that would result. With rates for government borrowing at an all-time low, I feel certain that the government will keep borrowing and pumping money into the economy which will get us through this.
Our job right now is to guide our customers, lenders and borrowers, through this time to the best of our abilities.
Our secondary market is there for times such as this, to provide a level of liquidity for lenders to manage risk. However, I would urge lenders to evaluate their holdings before deeply discounting loans to return to cash. While this market is indeed worrying, we will get through it and the economy will recover.
Rest assured, we are here, and we are continuing with our business and have plans in place to monitor loans, react where we need to and operate our business for the protection of our staff and lenders and their funds.
On a personal note, please stay safe, sanitized and healthy.