This week Charlie focuses his attention on the American election that is taking place next week, and its possible effect on our organisations.
My first thought was to title this bulletin, ‘President Trump…..What If…’, however I felt that this was inappropriate and falling into the same trap as many of us did during the Brexit election, by believing the polls. I can admit that I voted to 'remain' and was convinced by the poles that 'remain' would win, but it would be close. Instead of having a contingency plan and thinking through the consequences, I did what many people did, and thought it would never happen. I am a business continuity professional and I should have known better! Therefore, I want to look at what could happen if ‘The Donald’ is voted President. With the polls saying that he is closing the gap on Hilary Clinton, this seems like a real possibility.
The difficulty with a Donald Trump victory is that he is vague about what his policies are. Hilary Clinton has detailed policies on everything so we have a good idea of what a Clinton Presidency will look like. Trump's policies are a little like the situation we are at with Brexit at the moment. We understand what Brexit means but if we have a hard Brexit, and go for WTO trade rules this is a very different proposition, to a soft Brexit where we keep access to the common market and the effect on businesses is a lot less. Donald's position is not yet clear.
From what Donald has said to date, what could be the effect on our organisations?
- Firstly, businesses hate uncertainty and so his election could cause a business downturn even before he has actually done anything.
- He has said he would make it more difficult for Muslims to visit the USA. To me, if your organisation employs Muslims they may be reluctant to visit the USA, and secondly there may be more checks on entry to the country. It will make travel more difficult and time consuming, and perhaps staff may not be so keen to travel to the USA.
- He said he would put Americans first and reshore lots of manufacturing jobs. This could affect supply chains and impact companies who make goods for the USA market.
- The free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, NAFTA, could be cancelled, again disrupting business models and increasing costs on those providing goods to the USA. Although there could be some extra construction jobs created by building ‘the wall’ on the Mexican border!
- He has said he will cancel ObamaCare (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA)), this will disrupt the medical provision in the USA and have an impact on medical and drug providers worldwide.
There is perhaps not a huge amount we can do at the moment to prepare for a possible Trump Presidency as the detail of what he will do is unclear and we will only really know if he gets into office. He might find that once he is in office, implementing all the things he has talked about may prove more difficult in practice. On the other hand he may ignore the consequences and just go and implement them regardless and deal with the fallout afterwards.
I have always said one of the duties of the business continuity manager is to flag up risks and get senior management thinking about the consequences even if they seem unlikely. I think you should be flagging up to your senior managers that a Trump Presidency is possible and so the consequences of this will bring threat as well as opportunity. If he does win let us not be surprised as we have identified that this could happen and we are prepared for it.