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The ugly, the bad and the good

It’s interesting that governments around the world have announced huge stimulus packages to protect workers, small businesses and life in general. Trillions of dollars. Great.

The reality is that no one is getting it. You see these announcements and try to get hold of the bank to get the stimulus. First thing that happens is that the bank doesn’t answer. We are sorry, but we are struggling right now due to the coronavirus. Your call may be answered in an hour or two.

Great. That’s the ugly.

In fact, it’s really ugly, as demonstrated by Leda’s blog about calling the bank or this comment from a friend of mine:

Log into the bank and there’s a button that says you are preapproved for a loan, click on the button. This sends you to a page that says “all you have to do is call 0333 xxxxxxxx”. You call the number to be told “the queue is more than an hour, why not visit the web site”. What a joke.

Great. That’s really ugly.

In fact, traditional banks are failing massively in this crisis moment because their business was not built for working remotely or at home.

Equally, all the things we were invested in have gone belly up. I had huge travel plans for the Spring and now, instead, spend hours on the telephone trying to get hold of an airline representative who tells me your flight hasn’t been cancelled yet so call back when it is.

Great. That’s the bad.

Thousands of pounds of forward planning events and activities has gone, as have the revenues that come with it. I know I’m not the only one feeling this, but it’s not nice.

Great. What about the good?

Two examples is the optimism post-pandemic, as shown by this report from Finch Capital:

… and fast-acting innovation from FinTech firms like Chime in the USA, who are trying to get the $1200 government support cheques delivered instantly via their app to millions of Americans.

There is some good.

Equally, there’s something else happening. In fact, this lockdown is a great period for reflection of what’s important to you.

I’ve spent my whole life working, travelling, meeting, networking, corresponding. Suddenly, all the things that seemed important are useless. Not working so much, no travelling or meetings, no networking and a lot of email traffic drying up … things have changed.

Stuck at home, self isolating, being with family and the children all day. Hmmm.

I always remember someone saying to me that I worked too much. I focused on work too much. I focused on work too much because I had bills to pay. I had a mortgage, a car loan, a credit card balance, electricity and gas to pay and more. My outgoings were more than my earnings and it was too much. I had to work to live. Some people have to work two or three jobs to live. Some of us are borderline bankrupt.

“Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 [pounds] 19 [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and six, result misery.”

Charles Dickens, Mr. Micawber’s advice to David Copperfield

The person who said I focused on work too much asked me who I wanted at my funeral. Bearing in mind that I was about thirty at the time, it was an existential question that didn’t mean much to me. The older I get, the more it has meaning. Who will come to your funeral? It’s a terrible question, but think about it a bit. Would your boss come to your funeral? Your staff? Your work colleagues? Your clients? Maybe, but the only people who can be relied upon to be with you at your end are your true friends and family. That’s not your boss, staff, work colleagues and clients. It’s your real community. And that’s who you’re with now. Your real community.

You’re with your partner and family hopefully. Some of you may be on your own, but hopefully you have friends and family in contact online via video and social media. This is your real life. You work to provide for these people. Your work is irrelevant to be honest, as is mine. You don’t work as your meaning of life. Your meaning of life is this. Your loved ones.

The fact that you can be stuck at home for a month or two with your loved ones is precious. This should be the best time ever, in other words. Previous generations faced with a crisis like ours gave their lives. Our generation give their love.

We are stuck at home with our loved ones, watching great television and drinking a glass of wine, and should not be complaining. We should be happy.

This is the best moment in history. No work, no worries, no issues, just love and family and time at home for the first time since we left college. It’s the best of times. It’s the worst of times. Your choice.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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