A Year 2000 Win/Win Decision to Make Now
In life, there are some actions you take that seem appropriate and insightful. In hindsight, you are very glad you made them, even though you may not have been 100% convinced at the time. Now is the time to take two such actions. Please take five minutes to read through this letter to find out why these actions are so important. We really are trying to do some good here.
Fix Interest Rates Now
As a professional accountant and Year 2000 solution provider, I appeal to you to consider making a win/win decision for yourself before it's too late. Any low interest rates you are presently paying on all your business loans and personal mortgages should be fixed for at least three years. You will be safeguarding your cash flow and assets these loans are secured against. These actions will cause you some effort but when the Year 2000 technology crisis reaches maturity and interest rates rise (because of economic uncertainty and outright business failure), you will not be as seriously affected. In fact, you will have many opportunities. Interest rates are now low, but they are rising. This is still a win/win situation for you.
Your accountant and financial advisor may want to know why we are making such a strong recommendation. They will want to be as intimately aware of the Year 2000 problems as we are. If you knew the contingency planning being done in the U.S. just to cope with the civil unrest expected from those not receiving their welfare cheques, you would be quite astonished.
There is much you need to know about the real problems that the Year 2000-technology crisis will create. Individually and collectively we cannot take the chance it will not affect us. Time will quickly become our greatest enemy.
Year 2000 Technology Crisis is Real - The Proof
Besides completing a Guide for the Year 2000, we have been at the centre of research and communications related to the awareness and enabling of solutions for Year 2000.
There is proof that the Year 2000 crisis is real. Consider this alone. The most optimistic experts basically agree that at least 10% of institutions and businesses will fail sometime near January 1, 2000 because their Year 2000 problems will not be solved and they will not be operational. However, for even such a minimal business failure rate of 10% (and the problems it will create) to be mitigated, it means that
90% of all firms will have to have completely fixed their technologies and solved their interdependency problems so they can minimize risks to their own operation. Does 90% seem like a realistic success rate for fixing a problem that is so complex, expensive and a first time endeavor? If not 90%, then what - 85%? Experts also agree that a business failure rate of greater than 15% will cause a recession. Remember how high interest rates were (above 20%) during the last recession? The Gartner Group estimates up to 50% of firms will not be ready. The Statistics Canada Survey released December 8, 1997 states 52% of large companies have made no formal plans to tackle the Year 2000 problem. This is an important debate you must have with yourself. I'm starting to talk to myself too. All you have to believe is that at least 15% of firms with marginal operations or management in denial will fail because of Year 2000 problems. Then the above scenario becomes reality. That's the proof.
No Down Side to Fixing Interest Rates Now
There is little effort or extra cost involved to fix your interest rates for at least three years before long term funds disappear. It is unlikely interest rates will go lower, especially due to the spread between the Canadian and U.S. rates. Once bank depositors realize they have to safeguard their cash, they will not be keeping their
money in financial institutions for a long term as they are now. Banks will have to increase short-term interest rates (yours) to attract funds. In the meantime, you will be hit on many fronts with Year 2000 problems i.e. Suppliers, customers, bankers, accountants, lawyers, shareholders and employees will all be demanding proof of your operational continuity. If you don't take precautionary steps (e.g. one step would be to fix your interest rates) while you can, your business and personal financial affairs
will be affected. Your vulnerability will affect those counting on the business for their livelihoods and survival. On a scale of one to ten of how serious this technology crisis will become, the number 2000 comes to mind.
There are many other financial considerations concerning the Year 2000 such as vulnerability of your RSP investments and contingency planning that requires your attention, but that time has not yet come.
Once you continue your research into Year 2000, you will become as shocked and concerned as I am. I wish you the best. Please put your best decision-makers on this issue. Let me know if we can be of help. Fix those interest rates and consider ordering the Guide.
Ken Lagasse C.A.
Some Year 2000 comments of others:
"You don't get a Mulligan on this - there's no do-over, we're not kidding."
"Thus for a thinking organization, a fortress mentality is an absolute requirement for Year 2000."
"Year 2000 is a two digit problem with a four digit solution and a twelve digit price tag."
"There's only one word to describe what's going to happen to those that don't work on their Year 2000 problem. Extinction.
"This is a litigation catastrophe waiting to happen. It's just a matter of time."
"If you start January 1, 1998, you'll have 25% of your work done by January 1, 1999 (the final date to allow time for testing)"
"There are many unpopular decisions being made by others that will affect your survival in Year 2000. The worst problems will be credited to the decisions that are not being made. Humanity is good at doing too little, too late. Extremely good."