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UK Retail Sales Decline in December

Retail sales figures in the United Kingdom for the month of December fell 1.9 percent from the previous month, according to the latest data released by the government.

Sales across all main retail sectors went down, with non-food stores accounting for the biggest contraction, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The latest retail sales figures represent the heaviest monthly fall in over four and a half years.

Some analysts attribute the December plunge to heavy Black Friday discounts given by retailers in late November. They point out that November figures were boosted because of the discounts and that December numbers slumped because shoppers lost the incentive to shop.

Also severely impacted by the shopping decline were household goods, footwear, and clothing.

Experts had forecasted a much smaller monthly decline at 0.1 percent.

With inflation figures showing an increase in retail prices in December, analysts are expecting the rest of the year to chart a downward path as higher prices are bound to negatively impact disposable income and consumer spending.

Compared to last year, however, UK retail sales in December are actually up 4.3 percent, and while main sectors saw their sales drop, smaller retailers like butchers have reported sizable boosts in sales during the holidays.

In related news, the ONS found that online shopping in the UK in December rose with consumers buying roughly £1 billion worth of goods and services from ecommerce websites and apps, representing a 21.3 percent rise compared to the same month last year.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney, this week, said that household spending remained strong, but cautioned that the UK economy was becoming a bit too dependent on consumer spending for economic growth.

The UK economy is among the world’s fastest-growing advanced economies in 2016, but the Bank of England expects growth to slow this year as higher prices and a weaker currency will likely adversely impact consumer spending in the near term.

Contact Assured FD Services today, for expert advice on business growth and strengthening your financial position.

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UK manufacturing soars to 30-month high on strong domestic and overseas demand

United Kingdom’s manufacturing sector closed 2016 with a bang, hitting a two-and-a-half-year high in December, an industry survey revealed.

The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index (PMI) went up to 56.1 last month from 53.6 in November. Industry players monitor the seasonally-revised index for signs of expansion or contraction in the manufacturing sector. When the index is at 50 or higher, that means the sector is expanding. Conversely, any figure below 50 indicates contraction.

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UK manufacturing production and new business rose last month, with new export business growing for seven straight months, as British manufacturers reported increased orders from major markets including China, Europe, U.S., and the Middle East.

Not only was last month’s PMI reading the highest in 30 months, it was also the fastest in terms of growth rate for both production and new orders in nearly three years.

The December survey attributes the rise of the index to robust demand from abroad, which was boosted by the weaker pound. The British currency has fallen sharply against rival currencies in the past year, making UK products more affordable for overseas buyers.

The weakened sterling, however, is proving to be a mixed blessing for the sector.  While the pound helped boost the country’s manufacturing sector get off to a strong start this year, cost for British manufacturers remain high due to reduced importing power, the Markit/CIPS survey found.

The weakness of the British currency has nudged the price of imported goods higher, which has translated to higher costs for a number of manufacturers.

The survey noted that price pressures continued to be at elevated levels in December, with inflation for input costs and output charges remaining among the fastest in the survey’s history.

To negate the higher input costs, some manufacturers have started to pass on the burden to their clients by increasing their selling prices, with prices consistently rising over the last eight months.

Some analysts expect these higher costs to push the inflation up in the coming months.

If you are a UK business within the Manufacturing sector looking to boost your company finances, a Part Time FD can provide the direction and financial guidance you need to ensure maximum success. Contact Assured FD Services today to see how we can help.

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Why Interim CFOs Are The Way To Go…

Hiring high-level professional help can be daunting task for most small and medium sized businesses. According to a recent study, the average annual compensation of a CFO in the UK is £100,944. This prohibitively high cost can impede a small business from hiring a CFO, all the while stopping them from making progress.

A revolution has began in this regime. The rise of many companies that offer on demand financial management are a breath of fresh air to small business owners. You can now hire top level CFOs at a fraction of the cost through consultancy services, as interim CFO.

With the need for adequate financial consulting growing due to stricter government policies for business, these services are the need of the time. With difficult tasks like marketing, sales and customer support already competing for the time and attention available to a small business owner, the added experience and time needed to perform audits, file taxes and manage the company’s financial resources adequately, can become impossible for business owners.

Now with the advent of financial consulting services, companies can acquire the services they need without hiring executives who become a burden to their already strained budgets. However, some may claim that the services offered by such agencies may be sub par. This is far from the truth. In fact, the competitive nature of the market in which they strive to gain contracts guarantees that they provide high quality services. This provides a better alternative to hiring lesser talent at a lower cost, which also results in negligible progress for a company. Thus, interim or part time finance director services are the only way to ensure that you receive high quality work for every penny you pay.

If you are a small business owner and want to make the most of your financial resources, contact Assured FD Services today to use your resources to the fullest potential. This is the best way to ensure that you make the most of your resources and grow your company at the pace you want.

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UK Economy Set To Lose Momentum

The UK economy is set for a sluggish growth next year as uncertainty over Brexit and rising inflation adversely impact both consumers and businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said in its updated forecast.

The business group projects the UK’s economy to expand by a mere 1.1% in the coming year, and by 1.4% in 2018. Previous forecasts pegged 2018 growth to be at from 1.8%.

The BCC says the country will not fall into recession, but predicts that growth will slow down as import costs rise due to a weak pound. The resulting rise in inflation will then diminish consumers’ spending power, eroding overall economic figures.

Recent data from the British Retail Consortium and Springboard indicate that consumers may already be feeling the pinch. Shopper traffic to the high street and shopping centres plunged in November despite lower prices and Black Friday promotions. Footfall in November was 1% lower compared to the same period last year.

The BCC says the sector that will be most impacted by the economic slowdown would be public finances, particularly tax receipts. It echoes the same projections made the Office of Budget Responsibility, a fiscal watchdog.

The business body expects UK’s inflation to top the Bank of England’s 2% target next year, with a forecast of 2.1% in 2017 and rising to 2.4% in 2018. November inflation figures are due on Tuesday, and are expected to climb to 1.1%.

Business investment is projected to decline by 0.8% in 2016, 2.1% in 2017 and 0.3% in 2018 – slightly better than previously expected, but significantly worse than the 1.9% growth previously forecasted for 2018.

The British Chambers of Commerce also said that export growth was likely to slow down in the coming years before picking up momentum again in 2018. The group said that previous projections on the impact of the weaker pound on UK exports were a bit overstated.

So far, the pound has shed about 15% of its value against the US dollar and roughly 10% against the euro since the Brexit referendum.

If you are looking for expert FD Services in the Leeds & Yorkshire area contact Assured FD Services today.

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How CFOs Are Changing The Landscape Of Small-to-Medium Sized Businesses and Their Financial Success

Small to medium sized companies operate within a rapidly changing environment. And, due to this rapid changing nature, many are ill-prepared to handle the continuous movement and adaptability, usually the result of a lack of relevant management expertise.

In order for a company to survive and thrive, there must be changes made. A lack of adaptability can almost, inevitably, spell doom for a company.

What Factor Lead To Change Within An Organisation?

A company’s finances are the one factor that leads to a real insight into what is happening within a company. It’s the one factor that can lead to significant changes, both in terms of productivity and strategy.

By knowing what a company’s finances are like, steps can be taken to ensure crises are minimised or avoided altogether, and opportunities are capitalised on.  The company can also focus on management control systems, cash flow forecasts and more, including using this information to effectively communicate its strategies and operation.

The Importance Of CFOs In Work Environments

No company can afford to ignore and work without some type of financial structure, as it is necessary to boost employee and consumer confidence. Both economic climate and operative finance are a complicated but necessary issue for companies. Specialised support and expertise are required to manage challenges most effectively. These specialised professionals are referred to as Chief Financial Officers (CFO).

These specialised professionals provide a non-invasive, flexible and on-site intervention, working for however long they are needed, on a full time, part time or interim basis, to ensure that a company’s financial operations are working efficiently and in compliance with the law. It doesn’t matter how complex the issue is; a CFO utilises their knowledge and expertise to advise management of the best course of action.

A Chief Financial Officer will carefully and strategically review the company’s financials and all of its resources. Many small to medium sized businesses still have family finance and personal assets tied into the business. Therefore, the entire process is multi-faceted, and a strategy will be developed over time to strengthen the business’s position.

Mary Ellen Biery, has offered a summary of a CFOs responsibilities here:

4 Key Functions of a Chief Financial Officer

Book

The primary role of a CFO, of course, is to make sure financial records of the company are in order. “They’ve got to make sure the books are right,” says Brian Hamilton, chairman of Sageworks. “Most CFOs have that covered.”

Share

CFOs should make sure that management has critical decision-making data. In order to provide that forward-looking data, CFOs must develop good forecasts and utilise reliable benchmarking data.

Comply

Every company has compliance issues to address, and the CFO oversees many of them. Filing and paying taxes is one example. CFOs oversee duties related to shareholders, such as issuing dividends, preventing fraud and disclosing financial information.

Assist

The final CFO function that is vital to companies is assisting internal customers – the people in the company, such as operating managers, who need data to determine things like decisions on pricing or the lifetime value of a customer.

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Adopting the recommendations offered by a full-time or interim CFO can provide solutions to most complex financial problems… even for the most innovative companies.

For the immediate future, CFOs provide a new service that companies can benefit from when it comes to their finances and financial services. The market recognises the value and stability a CFO can bring, increasing business confidence right away.

If you are interested in discovering how you can utilise Assured FD Services, as your interim CFO, to ensure your business’s future stability and growth, call us on 07817 676371, or email us at info@assuredfd.co.uk.