Some downturn risks

Chasing debt and effective cash flow management are critical in a downturn (see Rob Millard’s Heads of Pigs and Golden Rules, posted yesterday) but also consider:

  • client take on: not following the necessary risk management procedures when taking on new clients may be disastrous. I hope you aren’t replying to the email scams from the widows and orphans of third world dictators, but the next worst thing is not doing the appropriate DD on the new client.
  • working outside your competence: it is all too easy to say you will do something that you simply don’t have the expertise to do. At the best of times clients are not impressed by your learning on the job; taking on work because you cannot face turning it away (all too easy when you’re sitting at your desk trying to look busy) is a surefire recipe for an indemnity claim.
  • soft terms: winning work sometimes requires you to take a view on fees ~ discounting for the future.  It is also important to be realistic over cost. But agreeing terms that devalues the work not only sets a precedent that in better times it may be hard not to follow but it also demoralises the team.
  • Partner ego: in many firms power and politics is intrinsically linked to partner performance. Maintaining this in a downturn may mean that work is kept, not delegated. It all comes back to Spending time wisely.

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