Having just finished our summer series of Finance Directors’ update seminars, attended by over 400 people across five locations, we thought we would dedicate this issue to looking at some of the topics covered.
So how is business? We continue to operate with weak growth and many expect the UK to face another extended period of weak growth amidst a backdrop of both domestic and global uncertainty. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) recently reported that the UK “…now faces another extended period of weak growth” and has downgraded its 2018 growth GDP forecasts from 1.4% to 1.3%. It has also revised 2019 down from 1.5% to 1.4%. The BCC cites uncertainties around Brexit, possible trade wars and rising oil prices and interest rates as factors set to drag on the economy. The services sector, which typically drives a large portion of UK GDP growth, is expected to slow to 1.2% in 2018.
It has been well publicised that the UK has a productivity issue and benign wage growth. It is difficult to see how this will change whilst many feel in economic limbo. The next few years will no doubt have many challenges but there will also be opportunities. The frustration for many businesses is not having enough visibility or certainty in making investment decisions and assessing and taking risk. That all said, most of our clients continue to perform well in these uncertain times. We also see good levels of activity in our corporate finance team (covered in this newsletter) which alongside a good supply of funding, low interest rates and low inflation demonstrates that there are plenty of positives as well to build on.
Lastly, I’m sure GDPR, which came into force 25 May 2018, has been a focus for many of you in recent months. In theory you should now be receiving fewer emails and only the ones for which you opted in – unless of course you continue to be contacted by businesses under the clause of ‘legitimate interest’. GDPR compliance will continue to evolve and develop and 25 May was certainly not an end point but more the start of an on-going journey. GDPR requires good IT systems and controls, both of which are critical in dealing with cyber security, a key business risk for many. We have been working with businesses in this area and are able to support and accredit businesses under government backed schemes such as Cyber Essential (PLUS) and/or Information Assurance for Small and Medium Size Enterprises (IASME). These schemes are a good starting point to give Boards comfort as part of good cyber security and GDPR governance.