UK accountancy: follow the money

The UK’s professional services sector is pivotal to the wider sector of
financial services. Historically, the UK’s worldwide renown in accountancy saw
the sector enjoy both domestic and international success. Will the downturn
affect this? What now are these firms’ aspirations for growth?

Despite the global financial turbulence, I believe there are significant
opportunities abroad for enterprising UK accounting firms.

Growing economies such as the Gulf, China and India offer exciting
opportunities. These economies are still growing, although at a slower rate. And
they look poised to recover faster than many developed markets. An increased
focus on risk management will also open doors to UK- based firms. The fall-out
from the financial crisis makes transparency and trust ever more important.

Advisers and auditors have a crucial role in helping mitigate future risk
exposure for domestic and foreign players.

With strong trading links established in the Middle East, Qatar is a leading
example of continued growth beyond the effects of the global financial turmoil.

Qatar’s economy continues to grow with GDP growth of over 8% and average per
capita GDP estimated at $87,600 (£63,290). The IMF predicts an average annual
growth rate of 12.3% between 2008 and 2012, enabling GDP to rise to $134.4bn by

Revenues flowing from its natural gas reserves fund some of the biggest
infrastructure and economic diversification projects anywhere in the world. The
Qatar Financial Centre, the centrepiece of the country’s efforts to lure western
financial talent, has already attracted major international banking firms.

Expansion into overseas markets of course presents challenges.Before starting
projects you need to know what the opportunities are and how best to exploit

For many firms the current instinct is to reconsider their trade priorities.
But I believe firms must find ways to sustain and build their businesses as a
long-term strategy for growth. This industry has international respect and
credibility. Now is the time to evaluate and plan new opportunities for revenue.

Robert Gray is deputy chairman of the Financial Services
Sector Advisory Board, UK Trade & Investment. Partner organisations are
hosting a conference on 19 March:
the Global Financial Crisis

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