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Consumer Optimism Rises As Robust Jobs Outlook Boost Household Spending

British households opened 2017 in a bullish mood as the recovery in business optimism and a positive jobs outlook lifted consumers’ confidence to spend for both discretionary and essential items.

Deloitte, in it’s latest quarterly survey, found that five of its six gauges of consumer confidence went up, even as overall confidence trended lower in the last three months of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. It said there was a significant increase in essentials spending in the months leading to Christmas. Spending on discretionary items likewise trended higher.

UK citizens also remained optimistic about their career and employment prospects amid a rise in real incomes and a relatively resilient jobs market, as consumers dismissed negative projections about the British economy following last year’s referendum.

Ian Stewart, Deloitte’s chief economist, noted that last year’s Brexit vote has not impacted consumer confidence on jobs outlook, particularly among the younger segment of UK workers.

Stewart attributed the rise in consumer confidence to real wage increases, high employment rate, credit growth and business optimism, noting that these factors kept the consumer confidence index stable.

Despite the upbeat results, Deloitte warns that the numbers may not hold up in 2017 as a weaker pound may push up prices resulting in higher inflation, which could adversely impact consumers’ overall purchasing power.

Elsewhere, analysts expect the Bank of England to upgrade its growth forecasts this week following a better-than-expected performance in the last three months of 2016. Observers are predicting the 2017 forecast to jump to 1.7 percent, from 1.4 percent in November. In August, growth was pegged at a mere 0.8 percent. This week’s revision will be second time in three months as the UK economy continue to defy expectations.

Despite the upward tend, Mark Carney, Bank of England’s Governor, cautioned that UK growth was becoming too reliant on consumer spending. He warns that UK’s consumption-led growth could lose momentum and prove “less durable,” pointing out that consumption growth would eventually overtake earnings growth.

If you are looking for expert Part Time & Interim FD Services contact Assured FD Services today.

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IMF upgrades UK’s growth forecast for 2017

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has upgraded its growth forecast for the United Kingdom (UK) this year, citing a better than expected economic performance since the June referendum.

The IMF noted that economic activity in the the country has “held up better than expected,” prompting the monetary body to revise its 2017 forecast from 1.1 percent to 1.5 percent.

The monetary body’s updated forecast closely mirrors projections made by the Bank of England and the Office for Budget Responsibility, which both see the UK economy edging higher by 1.4 percent this year.

IMF’s growth estimates for the global economy remains unchanged at 3.4 percent in 2017, and 3.6 percent in 2018.

Commenting on the updated projections, a Treasury spokesperson said that the fundamentals of the UK economy are robust, adding that the country was the fastest-growing major advanced economy in 2016, and that the revised figures from the Washington-based fund confirm such assertions.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics shows that the country’s GDP grew by 0.6 percent in the third quarter of 2016, while surveys suggest growth of 0.5 percent in the last three months of the year, nudging UK’s full year GDP growth to approximately 2.1 percent.

The World Bank, meanwhile, has downgraded its growth forecast for the UK. It expects the UK economy to grow at a rate of 1.2 percent, down from its previous estimates of 2.1 percent.

The World Bank’s numbers are also broadly supported by the forecasts published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, noting that reduced growth prospects and increased volatility, as a direct consequence of the June vote, will mitigate the country’s growth potential in the near term.

Several other countries, including the United States and China, also saw their growth forecasts upgraded. The US economy is projected grow by 2.3 percent this year, slightly up 0.1 percent from a previous forecast of 2.2%. Growth figures for China were likewise updated to 6.5 percent from 6.2 percent.

Contact Assured FD Services today, to provide stability to your business and strengthen growth.

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British Consumer Confidence Plummets to Lowest Level Since EU Referendum

Consumer confidence in the United Kingdom dropped this month to its lowest level since the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, weighed down by worries over rising inflation pressures, a survey released over the weekend showed.

Polling firm YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) said consumer morale in the country declined by a whole point to 108.1 this month, the lowest level since July this year.

Pollsters found that British consumers were less optimistic about their household finances over the next 12 months due to worries over inflation, which is expected to rise sharply after the UK formally exits the European Union.

Scoot Corfe, Cebr director, says that looming inflation is slowly being felt in the economy at large and by British consumers.

The YouGov/Cebr survey echoed the findings of a separate survey published by GfK the day before which showed a deterioration in consumers’ sentiment for the coming year.

Sterling has shed more than 10 percent of its value against the greenback since June’s Brexit vote, and while a number of businesses have raised prices to compensate for the weakening currency, many are still holding out price increases until after the highly competitive holiday shopping season.

Contrary to predictions of doom, the British economy has done relatively well. Many economists were expecting worse.

However, a rise in inflation in the next 12 months is particularly worrying as it is likely to weaken the spending power of households, a key economic driver. Household spending power helped the UK recover economically during the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009.

Meanwhile, wages are not expected to keep pace with inflation, says XpertHR, a payroll data company.

The Bank of England (BoE) projects inflation to rise within the next 12 months to 2.7 percent from 1.2 percent.

If you are looking for guidance through these uncertain times, contact Assured FD Services today on 07817 676371. Assured FD Services provide specialist part time FD services to UK businesses, strengthening operating stability and strategising for growth.

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Phil Hall 3 Comments

Election Shock – The Dollar Impact on UK SMEs

Many people in the UK and across the world have been stumped with Donald’s Trump emphatic win in the US elections.  Soon after Donald Trump won the US elections, markets across the world including the UK plummeted. Analysts even compared the shock of Trump’s victory to another Brexit.  However, Trump’s first presidential speech, which was both balanced and reassuring, helped the markets recoup from sharp losses.

Various media houses and financial experts have been quite vocal in their predictions that Donald Trump’s the president of the US can have a bad impact on small businesses in the UK. In fact, they were not happy with Hillary Clinton winning as well, stating that her tax hike plans could impair the already waning capital investments for new start-ups.  In any case, since Brexit, the Sterling had dropped to the tune of 15 percent against the dollar.

The Q13 2016 Global Trade Parameter by ‘World First’, stated that UK SMEs have not done a good job of protecting themselves from the uncertainty of US elections, endangering them to a currency risk of £34.6 billion.

Businesses that purchase US dollars have reduced the length of their forward contracts, from an average of 90 business days to lesser than 70. This makes a majority of US buyers unhedged for a stretched amount of time. With 28 percent of UK small businesses trading dollars, the risk for their business can be increased if the currency moving the wrong, becomes high.

While the economic uncertainty looms large for small businesses following Brexit and US elections, business owners have to pull up their socks and prepare themselves against all eventualities. They must find the right strategy to channelise foreign cash flows better and retain profits.

The SMEs in UK are in for a bumpy ride. It becomes important to have the right foreign exchange protection. The companies will have to be well-versed with their FX exposure and have a plan to alleviate risks during times of sheer unpredictability. A solid financial tool is essential for businesses to develop strategies that can work well both on short and long-term, while exercising risk management and making cash flow transparent.

If you are looking for guidance through these uncertain times, contact Assured FD Services today on 07817 676371. We provide specialist part time Finance Director services to UK businesses, strengthening operating stability and strategising for growth.

Phil Hall 1 Comment

Learn how to protect your business from the £8,775 cost of trading disruption.

With any small business, launch and growth strategy are at the forefronts of our minds and we spend the majority of our time critically planning for future opportunities. The very basics of business teaching advise of the importance of SWOT analysis. We should not only look at our business strengths and opportunities but also identify our weaknesses and threats so we can effectively protect ourselves against them. Therefore, it would be lenient to forgive us for overlooking our contingency planning and business continuity strategy.

Following a recent study by small business insurer Direct Line for Business, a disruption to business trading can cause huge implications for a business ongoing operation and survival.

The aim of this article is to share with you the studied implications to a small business of a disruption of trading, the main causes of these disruptions, and what we can do to minimise the risk of it happening to us.

In the following article by Ben Lobel, he details why we should be taking business contingency seriously, referencing the findings of the recent study by Direct Line for Business.

 

How much does two weeks of disruption cost a small business?

The average cost of keeping a small business afloat while unable to trade for two weeks after a disruption is estimated to be £8,775.

Destroyed stock and delivery vehicles breaking down are just a couple of incidents that have been known to cause a halt in business trading.

Small Business Disruption

Reduction in profit (48 per cent), reduction in revenue (42 per cent), loss of customers (39 per cent) and putting personal money into the business (32 per cent) were found to be the most common impacts of an interruption in trading on small business owners.

See full post here…

 

The study carried out unearthed huge risk implications that businesses face when it comes to trading disruption. But what are the causes and what should we look out for? Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty conducted a huge review of business insurance claims and reported the following to be the causes:

 

The top 10 causes of supply chain disruption loss

Increased interconnectivities and interdependencies between companies, as well as lean production processes, have contributed to both the rise in business interruption claims and new risks to business, according to The Global Claims Review 2015: business interruption in focus by Allianz report.

Top causes of business interruption loss globally, by total value (2010-2014):

With the main causes of business disruption shown to be 

1. Fire and explosion
2. Storm
3. Machinery breakdown
4. Faulty design/material/manufacturing
5. Strike/riot/vandalism
6. Cast loss (entertainment)
7. Flood
8. Collapse
9. Human error/operating error
10. Power interruption

View further findings from Allianz review by clicking here…

 

So what can we do about it? With the report detailing that over 88% of business insurance claims can be contributed to technical or human factors, the positive that we can take from it is that we can have an impact in reducing our risk. The following article addresses how we can act now:

 

MINIMISE THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF CRISES

Once you’ve identified the key risks your business faces, you need to take steps to protect your business functions against them.

Premises

Good electrical and gas safety could help protect premises against fire. Installing fire and burglar alarms also makes sense.

Think what you would do in an emergency if your premises couldn’t be used. For example, you might suggest an arrangement with another local business to share premises temporarily if a crisis affected either of you.

Equipment/machinery

If you use vital pieces of equipment, you may want to cover them with maintenance plans guaranteeing a fast emergency call-out.

IT and communications

Installing anti-virus software, backing up data and ensuring the right maintenance agreements are in place can all help protect your IT systems. You might also consider paying an IT company to regularly back up your data offsite on a secure server.

Printing out copies of your customer database can be a good way of ensuring you can still contact customers if your IT system fails.

People

Try to ensure you’re not dependent on a few staff for key skills by getting them to train other people.

Consider whether you could get temporary cover from a recruitment agency if illness left you without several key members of staff. And take health and safety seriously to reduce the risk of staff injuries.

Insurance

Insurance forms a central part of an effective risk-management strategy.

To view the full post and discover more about crisis management click here…

 

To help minimise the risk and impact of a disruption, contingency planning is essential.

If you don’t know where to start with one, Ready Scotland have prepared a “Keep Trading” business record document to help form the foundation of a strategy. They describe it as:

 

One of a number of documents to help owners and managers in small and medium sized businesses who want to think about how to protect their businesses from disruptions, small or large, natural or man-made. They can be seen as a practical introduction to managing business continuity, or how to ‘keep trading’ when trouble strikes.

To complete the document for your business, you can print the document from here…

 

Being aware of the threats posed to our businesses allows us to better prepare for them.

If you would like further advice on business contingency planning, continuity insurance or help through short term cash flow problems, a Part Time FD is the perfect resource. Benefit from extensive financial management expertise and business operational experience, as and when you need it.

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Phil Hall 2 Comments

Business Confidence and Strategy Following The Brexit Vote

There is no doubt that as we continue to steam towards Article 50 and (officially) begin the journey of Brexit, the majority of us with a vested interest in UK business feel a degree of anxiety. With the media spouting their usual negative spin, you can easily understand why.

Business investment and growth is usually led through confidence of the business market and the people within it. So, how have small businesses reacted to the vote and how do they plan on coping with Brexit?

In the following article by Enterprise Nation, you can view the results of a recent study focussing on business confidence following the vote:

 

Small Business Barometer Summer 2016

The authoritative Small Business Barometer report, which polled 800 small companies and consulted dozens more via focus groups, found an astonishing 68% were expecting to swell in the last quarter of 2016, despite acknowledging Brexit uncertainty.

Of those, 59% said they were planning to boost profits by introducing new products or services.

While 36% said they were more confident about the next six months than previously, 24% said confidence remained the same. Of those that were more confident, one fifth put the increased optimism down to organic growth.

View an infographic of the main results here.
Small Business Confidence Infographic 2016

See full post here…

 

The results of this study paint a clear picture of an optimistic UK business landscape. It has highlighted, however, that strategy is at the forefront of their minds. IDF have offered their opinion on the export opportunities they believe small businesses should be considering as part of their strategy:

Why should your small business consider exporting?

Figures released during ‘Exporting is GREAT Week’, highlighted that there are a number of opportunities available for UK SMEs who are considering export.

In total, over 6,000 export opportunities have been showcased at exportingisgreat.gov.uk, since November 2015, equating to 40 new opportunities to export every day, that is one every 36 minutes!

Whilst SMEs account for 99% of all UK businesses, they currently only make up 33% of our total goods exports, begging the question, “Why aren’t more businesses making the most of the opportunities that exporting presents?”

Click here to read the rest of this post…

With the sterling dropping to the lowest levels in decades, exporting goods and services seems like a naturally progressive strategy consideration for any business wanting to strengthen their position.

If you believe you may require advice on business finance and growth strategy to guide you through Brexit, the services of an Interim Finance Director would be a perfect resource.

If you have any concerns about your business’s performance presently and in the future, Assured FD can help. Contact us today.

Phil Hall No Comments

Cash Flow Forecasting – or how to survive the recession.

The oil price has been plummeting – have you noticed? A barrel has lost about 15% of its value in the last few weeks and there’s more to come we feel. The one positive about the plight of Greece and the Euro is that we will shortly all see lower prices at the pumps.

All of which reminds me of my first FD job in the 1990s. I had become Finance Director of an Oil Company, just as Iraq invaded Kuwait. Then as now the price of oil was affected by events not related at all to supply and demand and had started to rise sharply – anticipating a war. I realised very quickly that this would have a major impact on our cash flow and eventually our Bank facility. We were a highly leveraged MBO and cash was tight.

I spent my first few months preparing – then revising – daily cash flows, several at a time allowing for ever higher oil prices. In the event Bush declared war and the oil price dropped like a stone!

So a waste of time? Not at all. Like every well-run company we were well prepared. The benefits were clear

1. We gave ourselves time to devise an action plan to preserve cash.
2. We informed our Bank in good time thereby avoiding last minute shocks for them – and as we know BANKS HATE SURPRISES.
3. We came across as thoroughly professional – something that would have been hugely beneficial if we had got into difficulty.

All of which brings me back to the current day and recession. With sales dropping but bills still to pay. Maybe stock levels at pre-recession levels. Customers taking longer to pay, Suppliers tightening terms and Banks unwilling to increase support. Never has it been more important to predict cash levels by forecasting.

I always begin a new assignment as part-time Finance Director with a forecast. If you feel you too could benefit from a more professional approach to your finances – call me now. Don’t wait until its too late!