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A sudden personal injury accident doesn't just wreak havoc on your physical well-being; it casts a long shadow over your finances. In the wake of such an event, managing skyrocketing medical bills, legal fees, and the pinch of lost income demands a tactical approach. It's about crafting resilience through informed decisions—a financial bounce-back by design.

Getting out the other side in one piece requires a deft balance between urgent needs and long-term stability. It’s a case of working out how to align immediate recovery with enduring fiscal health. Let’s discuss strategies to manage the monetary aftermath effectively, ensuring you remain financially steady on the road to recuperation.

The Floorplan of Financial Resilience

After a personal injury accident, your primary focus might organically align with physical recovery, but financial recuperation should parallel this journey. Step one: reach out to professionals. The simple fact is that personal injury lawyers, like those at Vaughan & Vaughan, can help you recover the financial compensation you deserve. Their expertise is crucial in navigating the oft-tangled web of insurance claims and legal proceedings.

But retaining legal counsel is just one facet of the recovery mosaic. A solid plan must also include inventorying expenses. Start by categorizing them—medical treatments, ongoing care costs, and day-to-day living expenses compromised by lost wages are typical culprits derailing budgets during recovery.

Envisioning a strategy that encompasses these elements allows for a comprehensive assessment of your financial situation. This provides a vantage point not only to address current fiscal demands but also to forecast potential monetary challenges ahead.

The Financial Safety Net: Maximizing Your Benefits

When the ground beneath you shifts due to a personal injury, it's paramount to explore every possible avenue to reinforce your financial safety net. This is where understanding and maximizing available benefits becomes invaluable.

Begin this leg of the journey by scrutinizing your insurance policies—health, disability, even auto, depending on the accident. Each policy may hold keys to unlocking funds that can ease the immediate pressure.

What's often overlooked is the potential relief offered by government assistance programs or employer-provided benefits. Worker’s compensation and state disability benefits may be applicable in your situation. Delve into these options promptly as they might have strict application deadlines or require detailed documentation.

So how do we ensure not a single benefit falls through the cracks? Enlist support from human resources professionals or social workers—individuals well-versed in extracting value from such programs. They'll help you weave through intricate regulations and applications, safeguarding against any missteps that could jeopardize your claim.

Cost-Control Commandments in Recovery

With your benefits secured, attention must shift to reigning in expenses—a paramount initiative for anyone amid financial recovery. Tightening the belt doesn't suggest a retreat from necessary expenditures but rather an exercise in judicious spending tailored to your current reality.

First commandment: Scrutinize and prioritize. Grasping the severity and necessity of each cost can lead to a more disciplined allotment of funds. Does this mean temporary sacrifices? Perhaps. Yet, it's essential to differentiate between short-term inconvenience and long-term detriment.

As part of this assessment, consider negotiating payment terms with healthcare providers or seeking out medical services through less expensive facilities when possible (community clinics instead of hospital visits, for example). And regarding those daily living expenses, smart budgeting now paves the road to fiscal freedom later.

But let's not overlook income—there’s potential even when recovery is a priority. Exploring passive income streams or work-from-home opportunities could soften the blow of lost wages without impeding your physical healing process. Put yourself and your health first, and these financial building blocks should fall into place.

The Last Word

When a personal injury comes knocking, financial recovery is a deliberate journey, paved with informed choices and meticulous planning. Embrace resilience through each strategy discussed—the fortification of benefits, judicious expense management, and resourceful income solutions—steering your path toward not just stability, but prosperity.

Charities have already been tested and stretched by two years of restrictions on fundraising and the closure, whether temporary or permanent, of their retail operations. Now they are facing increased costs at a time when they are also going to see the value of their assets eroded by growing inflation.

Help from the government

The government’s measures to help charities through the pandemic, while not universally felt to be adequate, did include some very welcome provisions including, of course, the ability to furlough staff and relief from business rates.  The recent announcement of measures valued at £37 billion to help households to cover rising fuel and food costs is also welcome, but charities, to whom increasing numbers of people will turn for support as they feel the pinch, are not likely to be offered any new grant schemes, loans or furlough deals to help them weather the storm, and nobody really knows when or where this inflationary spiral will peak, when and how much it will come down and how long it will take to do so.

It is striking that more than 40% of the mutual aid groups that were formed to help communities when COVID-19 hit are still operating, with their focus now shifting from helping those who were forced to isolate to providing food banks and community kitchens, and many of them have now become more formally established as charities. They join the growing numbers of food banks serving those who struggle to put food on the table; the Trussell Trust reports that food banks in its network across the UK provided more than 2.1 million food parcels in the year to the end of March 2022, 14% more than the year before the pandemic.

Donor behaviour

At the same time, there is a real possibility that donors will cut back on what they choose to give to charities as they find their disposable income no longer stretches as far as charity.  Having said that, many donors stuck by their favourite charities through the pandemic as they realised that new needs were emerging, and they may well continue to support them through what is looking increasingly like a recession in the making.  

Flexibility and resilience

Let’s also not forget that charities can show great resilience in times of crisis, and an ability to adapt and innovate to survive. I recall predicting a wave of charity mergers and closures in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis, which I am glad to say never materialised, and it may well be that this capacity for flexibility and responsiveness will see charities through the storm.

We have seen some great examples in the sector of charities that responded to the pandemic in a highly organised way, acting quickly to identify risks and put mitigating measures in place. While they may still have some way to go before they are back at pre-pandemic levels of income, charities are likely to find ways of coping with a period of high inflation and low economic growth. Some will, we are sure, explore new sources of funding or modify their approach to any investments they may be fortunate enough to have, and the measures in the new Charities Act 2022 that will make it easier to unlock capital may help in this regard.

Others may find new ways of releasing value from their properties, whether by renting them out during any periods when they might otherwise not be needed (of particular interest to charities that manage educational premises) or by disposing of property that may have become surplus to requirements in the new era of remote and hybrid working.

More mergers?

Mergers may become an attractive option for some charities, as there are significant savings to be had in the medium to long term if they can find the right partner with whom they can share some of their functions.  A merger is unlikely to be the answer to a financial crisis, as any partner organisation will be aware of the dangers of taking on the liabilities of a charity that is struggling to stay afloat, but if steps are taken early enough, it can be an effective way of ensuring the continuity in the delivery of services to beneficiaries.

Should the government do more?

Thinking beyond the question of what charities can do to help themselves, I have also been reflecting on the extent to which the charity sector has changed since I first became involved, with increasing volumes of services that were previously delivered by local authorities now being outsourced to the voluntary sector.  I am all in favour of deploying the expertise of charities, and their knowledge of local needs, to help communities.  However, when I see contracts awarded to charities with no scope for price increases to keep pace with the rising wage bills or other costs, or charity balance sheets showing potentially crippling pension scheme deficits inherited from the public sector, I do wonder whether the central government may have to reverse (at least on a temporary basis) the process by which local and central government passed these risks to the charity sector.  Shouldn’t we be urging the government to put more resources into a sector on which it has come to rely so heavily for core infrastructure and services?

About the author: Paul Ridout is Partner at Hunters Law.

Keith Pearson, Head of Financial Services EMEA at ServiceNow, explains how banks can ride this wave of changes and emerge more resilient and productive than ever before.

At the start of this crisis, much of the banking industry was in a different position from many businesses. The 2008 recession spurred a need for improvements and, combined with the emergence of tech-savvy fintechs, the industry has seen a major shift as customer expectations have adapted. The pandemic has forced organisations to accelerate innovation already part-underway in the banking industry.

As banking experienced its first wave of transformation, institutions focused on customer engagement, uniting physical and digital channels for an improved customer experience. Banks invested heavily in front office digital technology, creating visually appealing mobile apps, engaging online banking experiences and technologies for bankers to personalise customer engagement.

However, this digital engagement layer is not enough. Regulations like PSD2 reinforce the necessity to remain compliant, adding additional pressure to the digital transformation process which in turn has been accelerated by COVID-19. Banking is therefore in the midst of its second wave of transformation, where financial institutions are creating and seeking out critical infrastructure to better connect underlying middle and back office operations with the front office, and ultimately, with customers.

A Disconnected Operation

Many financial organisations are still struggling because they have yet to streamline, automate and connect the underlying processes that are enabling customer experiences. Which poses the question: why is connecting operations so difficult?

In most cases, multiple systems are still glued together by email and spreadsheets to track end-to-end status. Around 80% of a middle office employee’s time is spent gathering data from systems to make a decision, with only 20% spent actually analysing and making the decision.

In most cases, multiple systems are still glued together by email and spreadsheets to track end-to-end status.

The disconnect negatively impacts customers. For many, experiences like opening a bank account or getting a mortgage involve clunky, manual processes riddled with paperwork and delays. When front and back office employees lack the ability to seamlessly work together, customers can be asked for the same data multiple times, elevating frustration.

Customers have little patience and can be inclined to publicly broadcast problems when left unresolved. In a world of social media and online reviews, this could be detrimental to a company’s reputation.

With digitally native, non-traditional financial services players gaining market traction by offering a seamless customer experience, maintaining satisfaction is crucial for traditional banks to ensure that customers don’t switch. Banks must focus on making it easy for customers to do business with them by offering faster cycle times with more streamlined operations.

The Fintech Effect

Fintechs and challenger banks like Starling have shown what connected operations can do, having been built with digitised processes from day one. Modern consumers expect round-the-clock service from their bank. As financial institutions look to the future, developing a model of operational resilience that is capable of withstanding unforeseen issues, like power outages or cyberattacks, is critical to minimising service disruption. Having connected internal communications between front and back office staff means customers can be notified about any problems, how they can be fixed and when they might be resolved, as well as receiving continuous progress updates instantaneously.

Automation can go a step beyond this. Today, customers expect companies to not only do more and do it faster but to prevent problems from arising in the first place. With connected operations and Customer Service Management (CSM), banks can proactively fix things before they happen and resolve issues fast, enabling frictionless customer service and replicating the ‘fintech effect’.


What About Compliance?

In the European Union and the UK, PSD2 and the Open Banking initiative are giving more control to the customer over personal account data. Digital banks such as Fidor and lenders like Klarna are seeking to reinvent banking by offering customer-centric services. But the process of streamlining underlying operations is not simply about providing customers with a fintech-esque experience. More than 50% of a financial institution’s business processes are also impacted by regulation.

Financial services leaders are focusing on streamlining and taking cost out of business operations while also placing importance on resilience. Regulators are pushing banks to have a firmwide view of the risk to delivering their critical business services.

Banks must invest in digitising processes to intuitively embed risk and compliance policies, which are generally managed separately and often manually from the business process, leading to excessive compliance costs and risk of non-compliance. With the right workflow tools for monitoring and business continuity management, banks can minimise disruption by gaining access to real-time, actionable information about non-compliance and high risk areas, encompassing cybersecurity, data privacy and audit management.

Increasing openness of financial institutions to RegTech solutions, or managing regulatory processes in the industry through technology, will prove key during this second wave of transformation. Banks will increasingly move away from people and spreadsheets and toward regulatory solutions that provide a real-time view of compliance and provide an end-to-end audit trail for Heads of Compliance, Chief Risk Officers and regulators.

With a unified data environment aided by technology, financial institutions can drive a culture of risk management and compliance to improve business decisions.

Increasing openness of financial institutions to RegTech solutions, or managing regulatory processes in the industry through technology, will prove key during this second wave of transformation.

Riding the Wave

The banking industry is still in the midst of its second transformation, and the pandemic hasn’t made it any easier. But riding this wave and successfully digitising processes to connect back and front office employees will present a profound difference to customer service.

The bank of the future will be frictionless, digital, cloud-enabled, and efficient; interwoven into the fabric of people’s lives. It will continue to be compliant and controlled but will deliver those outcomes differently, with risk management digitally embedded within its operations.

Demonstrating the operational resilience of its key services will not only drive customer confidence but will also provide a greater indicator of control to regulators and the market, adjusting overall risk ratings and freeing up capital reserves to drive more revenue and increase profitability.

The institutions that will thrive in this increasingly digital and connected world are the ones that are actively transforming themselves and the way they do business now, by taking lessons from fintechs, following regulations and paving the way in defining the future of financial services.

You visit your local bank branch’s ATM to withdraw cash or to print out a mini statement and you are met with a message informing you that the ATM is out of service. That is frustrating at all times but can be especially aggravating when there is no other cash machine available nearby. On the theme of banking resilience, here Alan Stewart-Brown, VP EMEA at Opengear, discusses with Finance Monthly the network issues banks are currently dealing with.

For retail banks, the issues and challenges presented by ATM network downtime are likely to be high on the agenda. Financial institutions are reliant upon a resilient network to ensure unique compliance requirements are met, address customer needs and adapt to evolving industry trends. ATM resilience is an important element of this.

Many banks have extensive ATM networks across the UK and often further afield. They may have an ATM in every town or city across the country, and in some places, they may be running multiple ATMs. They are likely also to have machines in many other more remote sites.  If they have network issues or outages, a large number of ATMs could suddenly be out of commission and that presents a huge range of issues and challenges to the bank.

Whenever ATMs go down, it will inevitably result in a loss of revenue and customers for the bank, as they switch to other providers. It is likely to also have a negative impact on a bank’s reputation and brand image. Less well understood, but equally important, it presents a security issue, as the engineer will have to open the ATM up while on site.

In the past, when an ATM went down, an engineer would be scheduled. Depending on availability; how remote the ATM was geographically and the severity of the problem, that could mean at the least hours or even days of downtime.

Even when the engineer arrived on site after a potentially long journey, fixing the problem might not necessarily be straightforward. The ATM may be owned by a third party organisation, not necessarily the bank itself. It may therefore be difficult to access because it is located in a building or facility belonging to another organisation and/or because the engineer’s visit happens out of normal working hours.

Finding a Solution

Banks with ATM networks need something that allows them to get these remote units fixed without having to waste engineering time travelling to the site and dealing with the security issues of opening the box up and the logistical issues that may be involved in gaining access to the ATM itself. They need a solution that can give them remote access when the network is up and running and also when it is down. And they need one that can allow them to power cycle the equipment within the ATM when the router hangs - a common problem in these environments.

These networks also need a solution that is vendor neutral on the equipment it connects to but also on the power equipment it can manage. An out-of-band management unit can be added to each ATM to reduce downtime to just a few minutes and bring them back up very quickly. It also negates the need for someone to physically go to the site, and most importantly removes the necessity for the secure opening up of the ATM.

Keeping Branches Up and Running

ATM failures are of course one key aspect of a broader requirement facing banks to keep their retail branches up and running at all times. At Opengear, we are seeing a growing demand for solutions that deliver network resilience from core to edge in financial networks. One of the top performing banks in the US recently needed an out-of-band solution for its multiple locations across the country. With the challenge it faced highlighted by a recent outage at a remote location, the bank wanted to reduce the burden of travelling to geographically-distributed sites, decrease downtime and ensure compliance requirements were met. It chose to deploy ACM7000 Resilience Gateways from Opengear at each branch location, paired with the Lighthouse Central Management System (CMS), also from Opengear.

Failover to Cellular (F2C) and Smart Out-of-Band (OOB) technology ensure security requirements are met while also providing access to infrastructure during a disruption, with an alternate path to the primary network using 4G LTE. In addition, the bank is able to deploy and provision new sites remotely.  It is a great example of the benefits of resilient access to networks in financial services when an outage occurs.

In summary, outages are bad news for banks and other financial institutions. ATM outages are arguably especially bad because they are particularly visible to customers; cause immediate loss of revenue and customer churn; as well as negatively impacting reputation and presenting a security risk. But they are inevitable because of human error, cyberattack, and the ever-increasing complexity of network devices, modern software stacks, and hardware devices. To keep consumers happy and the institution’s reputation intact, financial services must be prepared for outages. Smart OOB with Failover to Cellular can keep services running even when part of the network is down.

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