Welcome to our Spring 2018 Corporate Services newsletter
Despite the slow progress of the Brexit negotiations, the UK economy continues to grow, albeit at a slower rate than previously, and also behind G7 and global growth generally. Forecasts for 2017 are for GDP growth of 1.8%, and the IMF is predicting growth to reduce to 1.5% in 2018. These are the lowest growth rates since 2012. The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) numbers of those in work increased sharply and wages rose at their fastest rate (2.4%) in almost a year. That leaves the UK’s unemployment rate at a fourdecade low of 4.3%. This, combined with inflation at 3.1%, was part of the picture that led the Monetary Policy Committee to increase the base rate in November 2017, the first time since July 2007. It also suggested that ‘further modest increases’ are likely to be needed over the next few years.
Businesses in the South West continue to perform well against this backdrop but will face a number of challenges in 2018 including recruitment, wage inflation (with inflation at 3.1% and wage growth at 2.4%, underlying earnings still remain negative), interest rate rises, foreign currency fluctuations and of course understanding the wider implications of Brexit arrangements.
Experian has reported on the most active legal and financial advisers in the South West’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market in 2017 and we are delighted to have been the most active adviser – working on 53 deals. We also held our first Cyber seminars in November 2017 which were very well received and supported. We were also pleased with record numbers at our Finance Director (FD) seminars which ran across five locations; some of the topics covered are included in this newsletter.