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Takeaways from our latest Finance Leaders Breakfast

05 Sep 13:00 by Dan Middleton

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Continuing our quarterly tradition, we recently played host to a number of senior finance professionals for a roundtable breakfast event in central London. It was a great morning, with lots of insightful conversation around a variety of hot topics.
 
Here are three of the key takeaways from our discussions:

On market conditions

The uncertainty that has dominated the headlines and political arena was very much mirrored at the breakfast table. Generally, though, our finance leaders are hopeful. The overall predictions for post-Brexit business are positive!
 
Many of our guests agreed that whatever the Brexit outcome, businesses will be boosted by a more certain and more predictable landscape:
  • We could be looking at an investment boom in Q4 or Q1 2020 – several Asset Management firms across the UK and Europe have the capacity for substantial investment but have been waiting on a more predictable landscape. 
  • Professional Service firms such as Accounting and Legal practices continue to profit from the regulatory changes.
  • Both high-end retailers and budget retailers have had a good year. The middle, however, has been squeezed out of the market and there are fears that households will suffer as a result. 
  • Food manufacturing and distribution firms will likely struggle to transition to the economic changes post-Brexit – small margin changes could be enough to tip these businesses into a loss-making position.

On diversification 

Whether it’s financial services, recruitment, construction, tech or advertising, our guests isolated diversification as the key to their success in recent years.
 
It was noted that being overexposed in any market is a greater risk now than ever. A number of London firms have enjoyed unprecedented growth from expanding into niche markets that maybe would have been overlooked previously.

On talent management challenges

Finance functions have undoubtedly changed over the past decade – with more commercial and business partnering roles being valued by business leaders. With this demand higher than ever, there simply isn’t the talent available on the market to satisfy. This is a real challenge, with some of our guests stressing that it was important to be patient with young recruits and provide support, training and proper direction, to build the talent they require.
 
It was hoped that system and ERP improvements would increase efficiency and, in the long term, allow finance functions to operate with a lower headcount. Interestingly, it was agreed across the board, that even with new systems running to an optimum level, headcount is not dropping. Instead, there is a further requirement for junior staff to reconcile ledger work.
 
Do any of these hot topics resonate with you? Perhaps you know a great way of keeping staff engaged, or your view on the UK economy differs drastically to that of our guests?
 
Keep an eye out for our next event, scheduled for the end of Q3, if you want to have your say. We’re planning something special, so you don’t want to miss it!