Island businesses should focus on technology and sustainability as they prioritise resilience: HSBC Navigator

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Island businesses will need to draw more than ever on their digital strengths and expertise in sustainability if they are to thrive in a post-pandemic environment, according to Head of Commercial Banking for HSBC Channel Islands and Isle of Man Warwick Long.

Published this week, HSBC Commercial Banking’s new Navigator report, Building Back Better, draws from a survey of over 2,600 companies in 14 countries and territories. It highlights that the crisis has forced many businesses to adapt, with almost two thirds (63%) having modified their operations already.

According to the report, over the longer term, business plans now call for a greater focus on technology and sustainability, together with more agile staffing. Key findings include:

  • Technology will be critical: Six in 10 (61%) think virtual collaboration will become standard practice over the next two years, with 57% saying that virtual meetings –internal and external – are here to stay even after lockdown measures are cancelled.
  • Sustainability to power the recovery: More than nine in 10 (91%) aim to ‘build back better’ by re-engineering their businesses to be more sustainable, while nearly a third (27%) intend to make their supply chains more environmentally sustainable over the next two years.
  • More flexible working arrangements: Over two thirds (69%) believe flexible working will become standard practice, as a third (34%) expect to cut their air travel.

Commenting on the findings, Warwick Long said:

“Businesses aren’t waiting to be told how to ‘build back better,’ they’re starting now and technology and sustainability are at the forefront of their thinking. Since history shows that businesses are more likely to fail coming out of a downturn than when they’re in one, it’s vital that island business leaders push ahead with efforts to make their enterprises more agile and more resilient.

“The Crown Dependencies have been very successful in setting out their stall as expert hubs in digital innovation and sustainability and, as this report shows, now more than ever island businesses are going to need to move faster and smarter if they are to thrive in this new environment.”

The HSBC report also points to the importance of collaboration between businesses during the crisis:

  • Over the last six months, almost all (93%) firms have supported the businesses they work with, with larger businesses in particular supporting smaller partners.
  • 40% have collaborated with other businesses to get their products and services to customers.

Warwick added:

“What’s clear from this report is that resilience is not just about financial stability, it’s also cultural. Those businesses that can build resilience into their DNA will be better placed to weather crises. Over recent months, HSBC has helped a number of island businesses, not just with banking and financing services, but in helping them to adapt in other ways too, so they are prepared for the longer-term."


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