In my bulletin on 20 May 2012 I wrote about the possibility of Grexit (Greece leaving the euro), luckily this never happened. I thought as the negotiations between the European Union, International Monetary Fund (IMT) and Greece have stalled, we should revisit the subject in this bulletin. Greece has a large repayment to the IMF at the end of the month which they cannot afford to pay. As I have said in previous bulletins, it is our role as business continuity people to horizon scan and make sure that our organisations are prepared for possible future events. This is an event which could have a major effect beyond Greece.
In my opinion, many of the issues associated with Grexit are business issues rather than business continuity issues. Even so, I think we should still look at our organisations exposure to Greece and then raise the issues with the relevant managers. I think there are three areas we should be looking at:-
Firstly, look at your exposure to the Grexit.
- Does your organisation have interests in Greece and do you export to the country or own Greek companies?
- Are you exposed to the Greek debt through your organisation’s bank?
- Is there a possibility that a Greek default could have a major impact on your bank or could the possibility of it collapsing have a knock on effect on your organisation?
This may be a small possibility but as business continuity people we have to prepare for the worst case scenario!
- Do you have staff that travel to Greece either as part of work or on holiday?
- If there is a sudden collapse of the Greek banks could they, and their families, be marooned in Greece with no money as credit cards may no longer be accepted?
- Do you have plans in place for helping them get home?
- If they are on holiday does your organisation have a moral obligation to get them back? Even if you don’t have a moral obligation, do you need them back to continue their role in your organisation?
I know a number of people who have Greek holidays planned this summer. Perhaps you could offer to setup and facilitate a workshop to explore your organisation’s exposure to these events?
Secondly, you should find out what is being done within your workplace to prepare for a possible crisis in Greece. This also includes the knock on effect to the economies in the rest of Europe. As noted earlier in this article, some of the solutions and understanding of the key issues may be beyond the skills of the business continuity manager. However, you should be asking the questions internally and raising this as a risk.
Lastly, you should be dusting off your strategic plans, just in case they are needed. Your CEO or MD may need rescuing from being marooned in the Greek Islands with no money and their credit cards not working!
I think this time around organisations are better prepared for a possible Grexit as the threat has been around for quite a long time. I think the most likely event is for the EU to give money to the IMF to pay Greece’s debt, providing all concerned with more time to sort out the issues. Although this is the most likely case, we as business continuity people should always be prepared for the worst case!