Comment by BVAA CEO Rob Bartlett



Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

Well it still is really.  OK, we’ve not got to where we all hoped to be by now, and Covid-19 is still making matters a bit grim out there and we have to take the necessary precautions.  However our work continues unabated, and there’s still plenty to be grateful for.  Adaptability is the key to success – in Covid and indeed for Brexit - which is still very much a live and active topic, where attention must be drawn right now despite everything else that’s going on.

In assumption of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit scenario, we’ve brought every development, major twist and turn to the attention of members.  In particular we’ve broadcast – almost within minutes of publication - the very latest Government guidance and initiatives, even influencing one or two along the way.  We have also, through timely feedback, provided Government with precious intel that they have been able to utilise in return.  And that goes for the Covid arrangements too.

We’ve produced an update to the Brexit PED Technical Guide, BV002284 (currently being ratified by the Valve WG) which again assumes No Deal and goes through the arrangements and actions members need to complete for January 2021.  This may prove unnecessary if a deal can still be done, but it would be unwise not to put the necessary measures fully in place well in advance.  Brexit is more than PED of course, indeed it is an immensely broad topic.  To steer members to the right advice, there’s now a link at the top of the BVAA homppage on Business Readiness – click on ‘Business Readiness’ and a full list of useful links will appear on the major topics.

‘How’s BVAA?’ is an often-asked question from members.  In addition to kindly asking after the staff’s wellbeing, there’s an understandable interest in how we’re coping as an Association too.  I’m pleased to say that despite losing between a quarter and a third of our annual income due to loss of face-to-face events, we are still in the black.  Seventeen years of weaning the Association off of primarily subs-based income was rather undone in just a few months by Covid.  However through years of prudence beforehand (we started the crisis in an already strong position) continued prudence is seeing us through. 

There was – and continues to be - a huge demand for the Association to rapidly change what it delivers and how it delivers it, and there’s significant cost involved in a lean time.  I’ve been delighted by the enthusiastic reaction of the BVAA’s loyal staff to this challenge, despite being currently down 25% on headcount, and Covid has been the catalyst for many a change and service development in the recent months.  We had lots of webinars, Teams meetings, instigated a new CEOs forum, online training, converted ValveUser to an email-based product to continue to reach customers, and introduced exports advice to name but a few.  There is then of course the services we don’t shine a light on normally; we’ve been helping those unfortunate enough to find themselves unemployed to get their CV in the best spot to attract attention, to flag up opportunities we hear of, and generally to reach out lend support at what can be an awful time. Also BVAA’s old friend and FLP lecturer Dr Martin Haigh MBE is also offering free ‘Get Ready for Work’ training – see https://www.bvaa.org.uk/training_course_details.asp?id=168

Members have their part to play of course.  They can direct their staff to the Employment section of the BVAA website bvaa.org.uk and encourage them to view the positions, post their CVs, etc.  They can also post what positions they do have on their foc – there’s a lot of skilled and experienced people out there at the moment and it is an excellent place to start a search and avoiding the horrific costs of head-hunters.  Also members can help us formulate our new services by participating in the Chairman’s online CEOs Forum, next session 20th Oct, 4pm (register with karen@bvaa.org.uk ).

Finally, subs.  We’ve taken a significant hit this year to our Cash Flow by splitting our annual invoicing into two 6-monthly invoices.  We’ve been made up over the reaction of the majority to this, who have paid promptly and which has allowed us to continue to order the big-ticket items members need us to secure on their behalf.  One or two have disappointingly taken an opposite position, but I want to stress again that given the extraordinary circumstances this year we are bending over backwards to help members genuinely in difficulty. An early call to myself will be treated with the utmost discretion and a solution found.

‘Stronger Together.’


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