21/05/20

CAYMAN ISLANDS: Straw poll shows COVID hasn’t ‘infected’ offshore.

As published on caymannewsservice.com, Tuesday 26 May, 2020.

(CNS): A quick survey of over 40 leaders from financial services firms in the Cayman Islands indicates that the COVID-19 virus has not ‘infected’ the offshore industry, with companies asymptomatic or suffering just mild symptoms and just one firm facing a critical future. More than one third of respondents in a straw poll said their business had not been impacted at all by the pandemic, with some even seeing business grow.

Local recruitment agency CML asked 43 leaders at an undisclosed amount of local firms, “Has the global pandemic impacted your top-line revenue?” Results showed that 35% were not affected at all, 27% just a little, while just over a quarter (26%) said the impact was moderate. Only one firm said it had been greatly impacted.

Some leaders who said they were being marginally impacted, if at all, noted that they were also facing new business opportunities, especially and not surprisingly, insolvency practitioners, as the report noted that “financiers sort through the rubble”.

Captives were identified as an area where much of the insolvency work would come from as the US healthcare sector experiences significant financial distress, likely to trickle down to the sector here, given Cayman’s dominance in that niche. One respondent in the insolvency space noted that their business had already been very positively impacted.

Analyzing the results of this answer and the comments from leaders, CML estimated an overall impact on the sector of a small to moderate downturn of between 5% and 20% for a majority of Cayman’s financial services firm that would be largely offset by an increase in business in their insolvency departments.

As Cayman braces itself for the long-term impact of the probable complete loss of tourism for the rest of the year, it will be turning to the financial industry to help it weather the local as well as global fallout from the coronavirus.

If the CML poll proves to be a true reflection, then the numbers are to be welcomed and a sign that there is sustainability in the domestic economy despite the collapse of tourism.

The poll also gives an interesting perspective on working from home, with three-quarters of the respondent saying they were either greatly or moderately impacted by a change in how staff work and many indicating in the comments the various challenges it had presented.

The firms’ leaders also pointed to the difficulties staff had with juggling childcare issues and online school with their work, as well as problems accessing quality technology.

But CML said that none of those who took part in the survey indicated that remote working was either overwhelming to manage or untenable. A couple of survey-takers even indicated they would be continuing with it, anticipating being able to downsize their office space in the future.

But the results appeared to show, as reflected in some of the survey comments, that even where remote working was having an impact all “deadlines are being met” and there was “much less impact than was initially feared”.

CML concluded from the results that flexible work would feature in the future of several firms, as well as an increase in virtual meetings and a decreased demand for office footprint. Staff were said to be better equipped now to deal with virtual communication.

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