The real winner...

By David Scrivener 

It seems like only yesterday that I penned the introduction to our Spring/Summer newsletter. In that time however we have seen; a somewhat unexpected general election result (where the winners were the reported losers and the losers, who were the reported winners, appeared on the main stage at Glastonbury); continued devaluation of sterling against the euro (edging closer to parity as I write this); and growing uncertainty (mainly in one or two tabloids) about the future of the UK housing market.

Brexit still looms large of course and the incredibly ambitious two year timetable seems more ridiculous by the day. I help our clients here at Ensors to buy and sell companies so am very familiar with mergers and de-mergers. Some of those take over a year to agree terms and legally document so trying to enact a divorce from the European Union in such a short period of time is frankly crazy. And on top of that the cost in terms of professional advisers and civil service resource will be astronomic I suspect.

Whilst not obviously linked to Brexit, it is perhaps poignant to note that we have seen an increase in insolvency cases with new enquiries into our Business Recovery team at a five-year high. The UK wide statistics for corporate insolvencies are showing a small upward trend too, for the first time in many years.

It is timely therefore for us to announce the launch of “Ensors FIRST” which is a new service aimed at companies suffering financial distress. It is a one-stop shop for Financing, Independent reviews, Restructuring solutions, Sale options and Turnaround advice. We also set out to:

  • Be the FIRST port of call for companies looking for advice when they hit financial trouble; and
  • Offer the FIRST meeting, advice and initial sign-posting free of charge

We have teamed up with some fantastic partners to offer an end to end service that hopefully avoids the need for a formal insolvency process and concentrates on rescue as the prime desired outcome. This includes having access to a carefully selected group of funders to provide re-financing solutions for a majority of situations.

Despite the significant political and economic events mentioned earlier, we have seen both UK financial markets and generally the outlook for small and medium sized businesses remain pretty stable. It appears that the City and entrepreneurial business owners are becoming somewhat immune to “shocks” that would previously have caused a significant financial overreaction. That is a good thing, I think, as most of the fundamentals remain for us to be reasonably optimistic about the short term prospects for the UK economy.

I am pleased to say that we are largely seeing our clients “get on with it” and carry on as normal. They continue to invest in new people, technology and equipment and we are seeing significant corporate finance activity which is a good barometer of business confidence in our local markets.

The summer and early autumn months were exceptionally busy for the team with several deals reaching completion. The transactions were in a variety of sectors including Leisure & Tourism, Logistics, Automotive and niche Manufacturing.

It has been nice to receive some external recognition for the team recently too as we continue to match much larger firms for our corporate finance expertise. Personally I was humbled to win a “dealmaker” award at the second annual M&A Advisor ceremony in September. The team were also recognised by Insider magazine as one of the outstanding advisory teams in the region when they were shortlisted for the “team of the year” award for the second successive year.

Our tax experts take centre stage in this edition as we showcase a number of key tax planning tips and hints aimed at saving you money. We’ve included ideas for businesses and individuals as well as highlighting relevant points for some of our specialist sectors such as agriculture and healthcare. This section is well worth a read before discussing any ideas that it may prompt with your usual Ensors contact who will be pleased to personalise the advice for your particular circumstances. 

Robert Leggett also brings us up to date on HMRC’s planned “Making Tax Digital” programme which has seen some fairly fundamental changes since we covered it in the summer. MTD, as it has become commonly known, is an ambitious programme and has unsurprisingly encountered delays already. However, one thing of which we can be certain of is that digitalisation is coming and, with this in mind, David Fairbank reviews the benefits of Cloud Accounting packages as this most certainly will be an essential component of the ‘digital revolution’.

The impact of Brexit on businesses in our region trading inside and outside of the EU is examined by Malcolm McGready. Malcolm is the current chairman of the EMEA division of the international network CPAAI so is well qualified to comment on this area. Many of our clients export already and are seeing this as a growth area fuelled in the short term by the favourable exchange rate environment.

And last, but by no means least, Fiona Hotston Moore tackles the thorny issue of ‘work-life’ balance in the light of research that has unveiled that UK workers are estimated to do £33.6bn of unpaid overtime a year and the number of people spending more than two hours a day commuting has increased by 72% in the last decade. Something for all of us to be mindful of as here at Ensors, as with the majority of businesses, our staff are our greatest asset.

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