As we have seen with recent events such as the failings of major global banks, companies can find themselves in highly challenging situations seemingly overnight. Peerpoint colleagues from around the globe reflect on the market and discuss how they support businesses going through challenging periods.
The current landscape
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank represents the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history, while UBS' state-brokered takeover of Credit Suisse brings a new chapter to a systemically important financial institution. These events provide a stark illustration of the risks markets face in dealing with multiple difficulties: higher interest rates with central banks trying to fight inflation, a war in Europe and the energy crisis, the continued reverberations and costs from COVID-19, a climate crisis and geopolitical tensions.
This shadow also hangs over global corporates as they face a triple challenge of lower growth, squeezed margins and deteriorating financing conditions in 2023, with countries and investors needing to rethink and in some cases begin to reroute capital movements, trade flows, and supply chains.
Data risks and technology are a key focus for 2023 as we increasingly see global banks subjected to a growing risk of cyber criminality and being vulnerable to attack due to the complexities created by the combination of old and new technology systems. On a global scale, the U.S. and China are currently locked in a race for technological supremacy across core areas of technology, including 5G, artificial intelligence and semiconductors. Originating from a trade dispute that began in 2018, it has escalated into a race for leadership in advanced technologies and wider global influence. This in turn has resulted in calls for the decoupling of supply chains, trade sanctions and export bans and increasingly protectionist domestic policy, which aims to stimulate domestic markets and restrict the transfer of technologies and knowledge between the two nations.
Marc Mendez, Peerpoint’s U.S. business manager, notes, “clients are coming to us seeking guidance. The way they conducted business just a few years ago is not the way they are conducting business today. Their budgets are shrinking, headcounts are under pressure, and many are looking to become more strategic in the way they grow and flex their teams.”
Whether it's a sudden loss of key personnel, a regulatory investigation, or an unforeseen legal challenge, legal consultants have the experience and expertise needed to provide much-needed guidance and stability.
One of the key advantages of working with legal consultants is their ability to provide impartial advice. Unlike internal stakeholders who may have their own priorities, legal consultants are able to take an objective and independent view of a situation. This allows them to offer a balanced assessment of the risks and opportunities facing a business, and to provide clear and actionable recommendations on how to move forward.
Emma Morrison, Peerpoint’s senior client development manager based in the UK, notes that “we’re often approached for a ‘safe pair of hands’ or someone ‘who can hit the ground running’ in order to help a team in periods of busyness or absence. Not only can our experienced legal consultants provide this ‘easy’ solution to a resource challenge but we often receive feedback from clients that, given their impartiality and ability to see the bigger picture, our consultants are able to provide support to the team that others may find more difficult.”
Another advantage of working with legal consultants is their ability to bring a fresh perspective to a situation. As explored in our recent piece on mindset during periods of uncertainty, when businesses are facing challenges it can be easy to become stuck in a particular way of thinking. Legal consultants, however, are able to draw on their experience of working across a range of clients and matters to bring new insights and ideas to the table. This can be invaluable in helping businesses to overcome the challenges they are facing and to emerge stronger and more resilient in the long run.
Azara Digan, who heads up Peerpoint in the UAE, argues that “many of our consultants have worked through a number of economic or environmental changes. They are not only resilient and experienced but given their experience of changing landscapes, they can offer interesting ideas of what may have worked (or not worked) well in other institutions. This insight is invaluable.”
During periods of restructuring, team changes and job losses, the ability for a team to work at their best as they manage the often complex matrix of potential business risk is compromised. Legal consultants are an effective short-term solution to providing some security, covering gaps and ensuring that permanent team members avoid burnout by easing some of the resourcing pressure.
Luke Wilson, senior client development manager in Australia, agrees, arguing that “talent retention is front of mind for our clients, as noted in our 2022 client survey. Increasingly Peerpoint can be the answer to retaining team members and encouraging a productive culture as we can provide solutions that minimise permanent team members feeling overworked and under resourced. Burnout only intensifies resourcing challenges and we can moderate that.”
Additionally, Peerpoint and A&O Consulting (A&O’s legal transformation offering) often work with GCs to inform their thinking around business culture, team structures and to provide assistance where redundancy or outplacement support is required.
Creative talent strategies
By engaging a Peerpoint legal consultant, managers can build a business case for a permanent hire or road-test a new team structure before attaching fixed cost to it. In our 2022 global client survey, a third of our global clients said that they use temporary resource to demonstrate a business case for permanent hiring. Stephanie Szeto, Head of Asia, shared that “coming out of Covid, many of our clients have embarked upon corporate restructuring projects or formed new business teams to handle complex, distressed or otherwise higher risk matters. Without visibility of how long this type of work would need legal support, at what volume and in tight cost management environments, the best solution is engaging experienced legal consultants who can ‘read a situation’ and make the right judgement calls with whilst managing stakeholders under pressure.” If the right talent is not available in the permanent market, clients can also utilise top-tier Peerpoint consultants to temporarily fill the gap or access remote talent which helps open up new untapped talent pools. For one client based in the UAE a Peerpoint consultant in Australia provided invaluable support during a large infrastructure project.
Clients who need to alter their team structure and fill gaps have also found that initially using a legal consultant helps them scope out and define the role in their team ahead of hiring a permanent team member.
Working with Peerpoint is all about utilising resource at the right time to get you, your team and your organisation the best results. In times of uncertainty and disruption there is nothing you need more than the confidence of knowing that there is someone working alongside you who has the knowledge and experience to provide you with the guidance and support your team need.
As Emma points out, “whilst the current market is uncertain, we have (unfortunately) been here before and have consultants on our panel who have been part of the response, whether that be implementing regulatory change, reviewing policy or providing cover to allow others to focus on the volatility in the workplace these scenarios can cause. Our clients value the experience and stability a consultant can provide and we have seen it in action time and time again.”
To find out more about how Peerpoint could help you manage risk and disruption, get in touch with one of the team: