Internal MEMO: Q1 Summary / Be Kind
Internal MEMO: Q1 Summary / Be Kind
12th April, 2020
A note from Options CEO and President, Danny Moore…
Just a quick note to thank everyone for a great team performance in Q1. Tomer and the board send their thanks and appreciation also. We’ve kept them abreast of developments and shared all the MEMOs through March and your work has not gone unnoticed.
Speaking personally, March 2020 will go down as the most stressful month of my career by a long way, probably my life actually. September and October 2008 were ripples on the pond in comparison. The volume of MEMOs and blogs was probably a good indicator. There were a few Fridays when I was completely fried, hanging on for the weekend and an opportunity to regroup. I know a lot of you felt the same. Normal in the circumstances. Make sure to get some R&R. Also make sure to put yourselves and your families first for a while.
Do bear in mind that most everyone, including yourselves, has had an array of personal fears, stresses and anxieties these last few months – “community stress”. A number of us have also had stresses due family members hospitalised with COVID-19, the usual array of illness and bereavement, and as it turns out a lot of us have family and friends working in front-line COVID units. It’s also a tough time to be away from home. Remember that “people first” begins with how you treat yourself and your colleagues. We all need to strive to make each other’s’ work week a little easier at the moment. Cut everyone a little bit of slack as you don’t know what’s going on in their lives.
On the business side we had the perfect storm of record market volatility combined with a forced BCP migration of all our desktop clients, at once, while flipping to work from home ourselves. The top five all time high, daily closes for the Vix were in March. They corresponded fairly well with the top five days for Options’ client support calls. Then layer on all the personal and community stress from the pandemic. We got through the mountain of work in some style. I’d also like to think that we were leaders in the sector.
We should all be proud. Great teams lift their game when the chips are down. We really stepped up for our customers when they needed us.
We should also be thankful that thus far the Options’ extended family has largely escaped the horrors of the pandemic. I’m sure our collective and individual actions both as a firm and as leaders in our respective families and communities had a part to play there.
When we reflect on the last month 30 or 40 years from now, which we will, we will be proud of how we came together as a team and cherish lifelong friendships cemented in the furnace. We should also be proud of our generosity of spirt and what we were able to achieve when we focussed some attention to help the hospitals and society at large. The level of gratitude from the frontline teams we helped is beyond belief. In and of itself it’s testament to the fact that our Robin Hood Project was one of only a few initiatives to zero in and really hit the mark, fast.
Looking forwards, the next challenge we’re all going to face is processing all the news, spin and misinformation as various countries unwind the lockdown.
The hard data suggests that the US, NYC, London, etc, are close to the peak of the first wave. However, the wave is only peaking because governments took extraordinary measures to flatten the curve. The UK in particular is still miles behind on other key strategic initiatives like testing. The bottom line is we have no idea what will happen once those extraordinary measures are relaxed. Looking to Hong Kong, or Singapore, it seems highly likely that the epidemic could be reignited if governments aren’t very careful indeed.
I’ll send out a MEMO in the next few days summarising some of the most interesting research I’ve read focussed on what happens next, with a focus on providing fuel for individual critical thinking. The good news is that there are teams of scientists around the world working day and night to get hard data on the virus, how it spreads, etc. As we know from our business, the key to understanding how to manage complex systems usually starts with delving deep into the log files.
Overall, my personal “finger in the air estimate” would be that the hotspots in NY/NJ, London, NI, etc, have probably passed half their full first wave death toll, if not they are close. Grim, but at least an end is in sight. However, my bet is that the overall societal wave of disruption will last at least three years. It feels like there are way too many unknowns for anything less, including gathering data on fundamental issues like immunity (i.e. will a vaccine even work in theory never mind in practice) or key technological breakthroughs like the $5/5 minute test kit. There are also political complexities with the US elections and Brexit. Our leaders are trying to juggle multiple balls, not conducive to clinical decision making.
Finally, to confirm, as of today we have no plans for COVID-19 related redundancies or “furlough” in Q2. The future is an uncharted continent, but as of right now the business is in good shape. We’ll endeavour to keep it that way.
Thanks for everything. It’s an honour to work with you all.