When you’re heading into a business downturn, your first question usually is: how bad are things going to get? Having answered this, you then identify what levers you need to pull to ride out the slowdown without financial distress.

In the current environment, this is the wrong first question. Why? Because it is unanswerable; we haven’t faced a situation like this before. We know the economic slump will depress demand and slow client payments, but don’t know when it will kick in, how bad it will get, or how long it will last. So, what is the right first question? It’s this: what levers can we pull to reinforce the firm’s financial solvency? Having answered this, you then pull all of them.

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