Year ahead Q&A: Neil Bennett, Leonard Curtis

What will define your firm’s strategy in 2015, and how will this be implemented?

There is little likelihood that the insolvency and restructuring market will change from its current static position over the next 12 months, and this will undoubtedly shape our strategy in 2015. In order to continue to grow our share in such an environment, we will try to cement our position as a leader in our core markets while at the same time keeping a tight rein on costs. 

What service lines will be most critical to your firm’s growth during the next year and how will you capitalise on this?

By offering a wide range of advisory and funding solutions, our ability to offer a proactive and broad-ranging approach in helping clients manage and resolve difficult situations before they become critical is enhanced and will be one of the key drivers to achieve a greater share of a shrinking market.

What challenges will the wider accountancy profession face over the coming year?

One of the main challenges will be for firms to maintain current levels of turnover, while at the same time, probably having to tap into a much wider client base than has historically been the case. This will put pressure on resources, expertise and the skill sets required by competing practices.

In addition, no one knows what impact future regulatory changes may have on the industry over the coming months, and the challenge will be to respond to these changes efficiently and effectively. Fall-out from the Jackson Reforms may well still have repercussions across the industry, while the review of pre-pack administration procedures and the Small Business Act could all prove challenging when it comes to undertaking new assignments and recovering appropriate fees for the level of work undertaken.

How will the business environment change in 2015 and what impact on the mix of services clients will require?

Much will depend on the outcome of the 2015 election and I suspect it will be a waiting game until then. Such a period of uncertainty is not conducive to a vibrant trading environment, particularly when combined with low interest rates, so it seems possible that we will experience another flat year with more companies focussing on survival rather than expansion and a general lack of activity across the sector.

Further, the impact of previously announced Government spending cuts will actually begin to be implemented in 2015 and this will do little to generate enthusiasm and the knock on effect to the ‘real’ economy is unknown. At the same time, the longer term issue of a potential European referendum looming may prolong uncertainty and have a negative impact on business and investment decisions.

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